A friend shared recently with me the importance of staying connected to vision (big picture) and story (little picture) whenever we are in a "management" role making decisions about strategy.

They specifically pointed at how easy strategic decisions can become ends to themselves, and our focus on budgets, teams, partnerships, events, and programs can become unhinged from the desire to see God's Kingdom unfold in the lives of our neighbors and friends.

It really clicked for me.

I have been learning more about leadership (and in particular, how important the strategic structures of our church actually are), and simultaneously I have been realizing just how critical vision is to our community. Vision is hard to communicate, but when people have been gripped by a compelling vision they will sell everything, and commit decades of their lives towards realizing that vision.

It is here that vision and strategy need to align. If that strategy is not meaningfully and effectively aligned with that vision, then the vision CANNOT be realized.

All of this had the effect of helping me see clearly how important it is that we connect all three dots as often as possible in our own minds, and in the minds of those we lead.

  • When we tell stories in our church, we must tie those stories directly to vision and strategy.
  • When we share our strategies with our church, we must tie it to vision and story.
  • When we cast vision, we must do so within the context of stories and communal strategies. 

When people hear a story about someone who was led by the Spirit to spend an evening in conversation and prayer with a neighbor, they will be moved emotionally. But if we can also connect that story to our vision to be a neighborhood church and to see the Blessings of God's Kingdom transform our neighborhood, it will have power to invite others into similar actions. And if we can also connect that story and vision to our strategies around Missional Service, our summer BBQs, our service partnerships, and people's individual vocation, THEN we will have hit the sweet spot.

When we tie all three together, then the story becomes a way of making the Big Picture the defining reality for people, and the Strategy a compelling course of action.



Here is how you celebrate victory!

Mickey's team won the championship game.  He hit two home runs.  They were the last place team during regular season, but they went undefeated in the playoffs.  In case you don't know him, my son is the one in front with his arms in the air...


Bezalel: What is Ministry?

Interesting fact for the day:

Exodus 31:1-5 records the first place in scripture where someone is "filled with the Spirit."  Can you guess what the Spirit empowered them to do?  Not prophetic words, not healing, not angelic tongues, not preaching, nor worshipping, not even leading the people.

Bezalel was filled by God's spirit to be the artist and craftsman in charge of the artwork and finely crafted instruments for the Tabernacle.

It makes you think...

Ministry is often conceived of as "pastor-work."  In most places the nurses, teachers, gardeners and neighbors are looking over the pastor's shoulder saying, "that looks fun, can I try?"  But that isn't the way it is supposed to be!

Ministry is supposed to be the work of Christians in the world.  The pastoral role ought to be guiding and equipping Christians in that fundamental ministry task of partnering with God in His work around us, in us, and through us.  In short, the pastor should be looking over the shoulders of the nurses, teachers, gardeners, and neighbors and saying, "that looks fun, can I try?



Imagine walking out the front door of your house onto your porch, down the steps and onto the sidewalk. You turn down the block, and around the corner, on your way to work, and as you walk, you pass by parents walking their children to the school.  These families are of all races and nationalities, they are from every corner of the earth: Nepalese, Congolese, Chin (Burmese), Somali, Sudanese, Karen (Burmese) and more.  Not to mention the Puerto Rican, African American, and Italian American families that populated the neighborhood before the refugees began to flood into the city.

You live, work, worship, and play in one of the most diverse places in America; the West Side of Buffalo.

You live in a neighborhood whose recent history is pretty rough, but whose future is bright.  The people still live in the grip of poverty; urban poverty that has oppressed generation after generation, and the poverty of the refugee community who escaped their homeland with nothing but their own lives and perhaps (if they were fortunate) some of their family.  But development work has hit a tipping point.  The neighborhood has seen a consistent effort towards the renovation of old housing stock, the kick starting of new business and economic ventures, the building of playgrounds and children's programs, the hiring of neighborhood youth, the organization of community groups, the development of urban agriculture, and more...

Ministry is often conceived of as something that pastors, worship leaders, small group leaders, and missionaries do.  But scripture makes it clear that the leaders of the church are supposed to be equipping the people to do the ministry.  That means that ministry is really something that is done by spirit-filled carpenters, teachers, gardeners, businesspeople, doctors, parents, neighbors, and artists.

You are one of those people.

What is more God is doing something strange and exciting here, something that believers have interceded about for centuries.  He is bringing unity to His children.  While divisions in the church are still real and painful, the Holy Spirit has woven together a network of churches, organizations, business ventures, and individual believers who are working together to glorify God and to bless the city.  Your home is a nexus for this unity.  You live with believers from many churches and church backgrounds, sharing meals together, praying together, sharing stories, and encouraging one another in ministry.

You live in the BUMP house.

The Buffalo Urban Mission Partnership (BUMP) is a collaborative network of church and parachurch partnerships.  The Buffalo Vineyard Church is a founding member.  For three years we have hosted dozens of young people in paid, year-long, ministry/service placements here in Buffalo.  The BUMP program has three essential facets: paid ministry work 20-30 hours a week, christian community life in a house and in a local church, a weekly class discussing a missiology for the city.

For more information visit:

or email:

Pastor Steven Schenk
Buffalo Vineyard Church


By Gary Weins

    wispy fleeting phantom
    longing grazes the edges of my soul
    just out of sight

    A faint perfume
    it hangs midair
    a memory not quite complete
    touching feelings
    stirring something
    not quite there
    yet real

    sweet Jesus
    how long until once more your gaze arrests my heart
    you come and go
    now touching
    not keeping distant
    unpredictable like breath of wind

    when can I find you?
    will you be captured as you have captured me?

    sweet sadness overtakes me
    lending voice
    to the pensive song
    of a lovesick soul

    less wild lovers call
    sending forth their saccharine smells
    false appeals
    stemming not from love
    but raging hate

    they promise joy tonight
    if I but take and eat
    I glance
    but longing calls
    and sweater far its misty strains
    than any pledge of instant glee

    lovely Lord
    stretch forth your wounded hand

    and drip the precious
    fragrant flow of passioned love all over me again
    retake my battered heart
    steal me away to secret place where deep and deep engage

    I love you Lord
    I want your presence gorging me
    consuming me
    with fervent zeal
    to know you more

    living flame
    beset me now
    with love divine
    and say to me again
    beloved I am yours
    and you are mine

    but release does not yet come
    the veil is torn
    I've entered in
    yet still I see with eyes be dimmed as in a glass

    when shall I know as I am known?
    when shall the hope be realized?
    how long will mortal flesh impede desire?
    how long?

    wispy fleeting phantom
    longing grazes the edges of my soul
    just out of sight

    a faint perfume
    it hangs midair
    a memory not quite complete
    touching feelings
    stirring something
    not quite there
    yet near
    so very near


Good Things

"Enjoying good things is a wonderful preparation for Heaven."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu