Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Vineyard Church, whose leaders Daniel and Ramona Cannone and their team, build their health and vitality through initiatives such as this.
Read the conversation below.
DC: We feel that the element, the facet of God’s kingdom we’re called to reflect is relationship. Sometimes a fear is that as a church if you get big and everybody’s just treated like a number, then you lose the sense of belonging.
I experienced something in the year 2000 that taught me about being big but also intimate. I had just turned 21. It was the Sydney Olympics, and I was engaged to my now wife, and we went to Darling Harbour. It was while the Olympic Games were on, and there were people everywhere. Packed. Did you experience that at all?
So it shocked me. The love that was in the air. People were saying Where are you from? What are you doing? How are you? Great to see you! Are you enjoying Sydney? You know, what are you here to see? Are you an athlete? Are you a spectator? Are you someone…? It was a free for all, no barriers.And that taught me something. It’s possible to be in an enormous crowd where you literally don’t know a soul, but feel like everybody’s your brother or sister. There wasn’t a vibe where it’s busy and people are angry or cramped or pressed up.
This was just loving and friendly, and it’s something that the Olympics carried that I honestly didn’t think I’d find outside of church. But seeing it there, I realised, you don’t have to be small to be intimate.
People need to have, and we do say this, you’ve got to have belonging. So we do small groups, right? We find that is a very very important element of people finding their belonging in church is that you don’t have to know everybody, but you need to know somebody.
So with that culture in the room, it’s my hope that people feel really free. That if they want to disengage they can disengage. There’s no pressure to be a buddy buddy.
But at the same time, there is a warmth and a welcomeness that doesn’t matter how many people turn up, it doesn’t matter how big we get, no one gets treated like a number because there’s love in the room. And then God reminded me of heaven. An innumerable measure… You can’t count them.
I guarantee there’s not a single person in there who feels like a number. They all feel incredibly loved and close to the father. So that’s the… It’s a culture that we create in the air. When it’s like that, it doesn’t matter how big you get.
NCLS: So what do you do practically as a leader or as a leadership team to nurture that culture?
DC: I make sure it exists in the team. Because I think that it only ever sort of bleeds out from the core. So if we ever get to a point where we’re forgetting to have fun together, not getting time to book socials, everything all becomes about the job, that’s a warning sign for us to know, hey, hang on a minute, whatever we do is actually going to leach into the church because we’re actually the core and everything feeds off of.
That’s the leadership’s role, not to be up the top and everybody look to, but rather in the centre and everybody glean from, I suppose.