Vault is a conference on how to do church … for people who don’t like church. There are many books and conferences on how to grow a “successful” church, but unfortunately they’re not focused on how to reach the unconvinced and cynical. Read more about Vault here.
Vince Antonucci became a Christian out of a completely non-Christian background and ever since his passion has been reaching the “lostest of the lost.” He was the founding Pastor of Forefront Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a church where 72% of the people who attend were previously unchurched non-Christians. Vince recently moved to Las Vegas where he started a new church, Verve, in the heart of Sin City, just off the Vegas Strip. Vince is the author of I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt (2008), Guerrilla Lovers (2010), and Renegade (2013).
Session 1: The Call to Reach God’s Lost Children
- Vince started by telling his story. Interesting that his mom was Jewish and hs dad was a professional poker player. How in the world did those two meet?
- God has countless number of lost children wondering around… is anyone going to help these children back to their Father?
- Jesus message “Return to me.”
- The mission of every pastor and church planter are not good at helping people get back to God.
- Does the church truly have an “evangelistic DNA”?
- We can’t pass on DNA that we don’t have.
- Don’t lose the rhythm of God’s heartbeat for lost people. How do we get ourselves around lost people?
- The longer we wait to reach the lost, the harder it is to reach the lost.
- Churches are like steak restaurants for PETA activists.
Session 2: Programming Church Services for People Who Don’t Like Church
- Principle 1: Uncross your arms – Change people’s posture. Help people unfold their arms!
- Principle 2: Wear their Shoes – How does it feel to go to church when you have never gone their before?
- Principle 3: Bring a Guest to Dinner – What do you do that’s acceptable to you but hard to swallow to an outsider?
- Principle 4: Be on Your Game (Joe DiMaggio) – Every service should be done like it’s someone’s first time.
- Principle 5: Check Your Influences – Are you going to other churches to get things or are you accessing what lost people are interested in in order to change what is secular into something that could be sacred.
- Principle 6: Use their Culture – What are people engaging in that you can access?
- Principle 7: Don’t Use Your Culture – Be careful about the assumptions you make, your assumptions make your crowd.
- Principle 8: Authenticity – Who is this person and is he anything like me? We need to let people access the unconditional love of God.
Session 3: Diving into the Chaos
- It’s not your job to clean up someone else’s mess. Lead people to experience the love of Jesus and their sins will start to pass away.
- Create the right conditions to grow which is an arena for grace.
- It’s easier for most Christians to judge people instead of love people.
- People who are far from God have been living with the enemy for so long they have forgotten what it’s like to experience the love of God.
- There will be some people who accept grace as a reason to sin. It’s worth the risk.
- If people think you like them, they will listen to you.
- We need to be more comfortable in our communities instead of our churches, involved in people’s lives who need Jesus the most.
Session 4: Radical to Radical
- If you want a radical follower, you need to find someone who is radically lost.
- Radically lost people become radical followers of Jesus.
- We are all about igniting a revolution and not starting another country club.
- We must be compassionately connected to those far away from the Lord.
Session 5: Questions and Answers
- Courage comes from a genuine love for people and seeking their best.
- Courage to talk comes from courage of conviction.Are we offering people a better way of life?
- What is the most loving way to say things to people?
- Point people to evidence to help change on a level that is beyond yourself.
Session 6: No Splanga, No Glory
- You’re willingness to rist is your potential return.
- When we stare at our risk we are giving into our fear.
- Lives are impacted when we do things for the kingdom of God.
- It’s totally worth doing what God wants you to do. Stare at potential return and it will help you overcome fear.
An Excerpt from Henri Nouwen on faith: “The Flying Rodleighs are trapeze artists who perform in the German circus Simoneit-Barum. When the circus came to Freiburg two years ago, my friends Franz and Reny invited me and my father to see the show. I will never forget how enraptured I became when I first saw the Rodleighs move through the air, flying and catching as elegant dancers. The next day, I returned to the circus to see them again and introduced myself to them as one of their great fans. They invited me to attend their practice sessions, gave me free tickets, asked me to dinner, and suggested I travel with them for a week in the near future. I did, and we became good friends.
“One day, I was sitting with Rodleigh, the leader of the troupe, in his caravan, talking about flying. He said, ‘As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think that I am the great star of the trapeze, but the real star is Joe, my catcher. He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump.’ ‘How does it work?’ I asked. ‘The secret,’ Rodleigh said, ‘is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar.’
“ ’You do nothing!’ I said, surprised. ‘Nothing,’ Rodleigh repeated. ‘The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It’s Joe’s task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe’s wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.’
“When Rodleigh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus flashed through my mind: ‘Father into your hands I commend my Spirit.’ Dying is trusting in the catcher. To care for the dying is to say, ‘Don’t be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make your long jump. Don’t try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.’ ”
Great day drinking from a fire hydrant.