Ephesians 4: 1-13
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
‘When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.’
(What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
God's Good Future for Causeway Coast Vineyard
This was by no means an ordinary Sunday message! Alan and Kathryn began by sharing how, at different stages along the journey of CCV, God had clearly directed the most significant changes and decisions through the collective wisdom and discernment of various teams. Taking Ephesians 4 as our example, leadership was never supposed to be the responsibility of just one person. It’s a group of men and women working together, empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit, to equip God’s people to fulfil their destiny and bring life to the city. Our culture is built on servants not sermons, people not platforms.
With that in mind, Alan and Kathryn had the immense pleasure of announcing that in the summer of this year, Neil and Janet Young will become Senior Pastors of Causeway Coast Vineyard.
They outlined some details of the appointment process in which the CCV Board of Directors took a primary role, along with the Senior Leadership Team and Vineyard National Leadership. With the selection criteria very clear, there was a period of robust conversations, diligent reflection and, at times, uncomfortable scrutiny. Over time it became very clear to all involved that Janet and Neil were uniquely equipped, called and gifted to lead CCV into the good future God has for us.
Speaking about the decision, Alan and Kathryn said:
“We clearly recognise God’s favour on Neil and Janet - their gifting, leadership and calling to bring life to this city. They are uniquely equipped for the task ahead, having served alongside us from the very start. Not only do they brilliantly carry our culture as a church, but they embody the bold risk and servant-hearted leadership this community needs. And so it is with our whole hearts that we endorse them.”
The congregation present on Sunday were genuinely thrilled with the announcement and visibly demonstrated their united support with a standing ovation across the auditorium.
Neil and Janet then took some time to share their own process of discerning the Lord’s will in this huge step. They acknowledged that it was not a role or position they had sought after and emphasised how important it was for them both to hear the Father speak and not to step into anything which wasn’t clearly His call or desire. Over time, through prayer and a series of prophetic confirmations, they became convinced that this was indeed God’s will. Neil concluded: “Just as you don’t want to be somewhere that God hasn’t told you to go, when He does speak, you don’t want to be disobedient to His voice.”
Alan and Kathryn then shared what the future holds for them and their two girls, Sophie and Emily. For some time they have sensed God asking them to hand over the leadership of the church. Having spent considerable time in prayer seeking the Lord’s wisdom, timing and direction, they will be moving to the United States of America at the end of June 2017.
Alan spoke of the season of grieving he has already experienced since they made this decision, but noted Kathryn’s wisdom that there is no shame in grief. In fact, “grief is a receipt we wave at the world to show that we have loved well and we have loved deeply.”
We were encouraged that for the CCV family, the best stories are yet to be written, the best teams are yet to be formed and the best dreams are waiting to be born. With that in mind, "...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." (Heb 12: 1-2)
Dates of Neil and Janet’s commissioning service will be announced in due course.