Another church in Wheaton? Doesn’t Wheaton have enough churches?
That was our reaction when we felt God calling us to Wheaton to re-launch the DuPage Vineyard. It seemed to us that Wheaton had plenty of good churches, so why would God send us there?
Over time, we felt that God gave us a vision for what he wanted to do through the Vineyard, and why he was sending us to Wheaton. This is what we felt God impressed on us as we prayed:
Many in this area are longing to actually encounter God in a real way, today. They are tired of reading about what happened long ago; they want to do those same things today. The cry of their heart is “there must be more!”
Vineyard DuPage is to be a place where people can encounter the presence, power, and love of God in a real way. Where experiencing God the way the Bible talks about is normal, not just something we read about, and where people can learn to operate in the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.
Wheaton is full of people who have been hurt by the church. While they haven’t necessarily stopped believing in God, they are very cautious, even suspicious, about the church. But they would be open to a different kind of expression—a place that was authentic, that lives out both grace and truth, and a place where people don’t have to perform to be accepted.
We are called to be a place of healing; a place where people can be healed and transformed by the grace of God as they discover how much God loves them personally. VCD is a place where people are set free from the things that hold them down and begin to experience the life God intends us to have.
Many people out here have felt like a “square peg in a round hole.” They have never found a church where they felt at home, where they fit well. That isn’t anybody’s fault, but it has been their experience.
VCD is called to be a grace-filled community that accepts people where they are and then helps launch them into their identity and destiny—where people are encouraged and equipped to “be who they are called to be, and do what they are called to do.” A place where people step into the life God intends for them.
There are lots of people who aren’t followers of Jesus who have been turned off by their picture of the church—one that is harsh, judgmental, and out of touch with real people dealing with real problems. Many of them would be open to a different expression of church life.
VCD is called to bring the good news of God’s love to people in a way that they can understand and relate to, and help people grow in their relationship with God. A place where people can fail, learn, and grow, and discover together how powerful God’s love and truth really is.
This passage from Isaiah 61:1-7 captures the kind of church we are called to be:
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former devastations;
And they will repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks,
And [e]foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.
6 But you will be called the priests of the Lord;
You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
And in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame you will have a double portion,
And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land,
Everlasting joy will be theirs.
It’s a place where people fall in love with Jesus Christ and their lives are changed—transformed—by the power of the Holy Spirit. People who are broken-hearted, people who have been hurt by the world and are grieving are transformed into “wounded healers”—people who experience joy and are then able to minister to others in the same way.
Ultimately, this isn’t just about individual lives changing. We believe that as individuals are changed, the larger picture is that whole communities can be changed. To be part of that is why we are here.