Over the next month, I’ll be sharing the story of my journey with the Vine.

Here are a few rules of the road:

1) This is not the Vine’s autopsy.

I will, from time to time, draw out some lessons from what we learned about what it takes to plant a church (successfully or unsuccessfully). However, this is primarily about telling my story as honestly as I can. Not every good story will have a moral or ministry lesson at the end, (and I’m okay with that.)

2) This is my story.

This is not the Vine’s story. I am just one person: carrying my own wounds, stories, insight, blind spots, and bias to these past five years. There’s a lot of beauty in what we experienced these last five years. There’s also a lot of ugliness and mistakes. I’ll be as honest, open, and truthful as I can about all of it.

3) This is Ben – not Pastor Ben.

I heard Nadia Bolz-Weber, noted Christian author and user of profanity, speak at a church earlier this year. In regards to her language, she told the crowd, “This is who I am. I understand if you don’t like it. But, I’d appreciate it if you give me permission to be me and I’ll give you permission to be you.”

I made a conscious choice to be as true as possible to my own voice, even if that occasionally offends my audience’s sensibilities.. Some of you may be surprised to learn that that includes a lot of sarcasm, self-deprecation, and profanity. If you’re a little off-put by that, I understand. But, I hope that you can give me permission to be me, as I work through my story with you.

4) Please talk back to me.

Meaning-making is a community event, so, please, talk back to me. If you have comments, make them. If you have questions, ask them. If you have objections, state them. If there are things you want to hear more about, let me know. It will be incredibly helpful as I try to make sense of these last five years of ministry.

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