When the Lord put it on my heart to start a new church in Morristown, a verse from Isaiah 66:1 suddenly popped into my mind, where God spoke to the people of Israel saying, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. “That’s it… we’re supposed to build a house for Him… a place where God could call His home!”
I prayed about that and asked Him what that “house” was supposed to look like… and I found the answer almost immediately in His Word. In Acts 15, James describes the church as an expression of the restored tabernacle of David, which God promised to raise up when He said, “in that day I will raise up the Tabernacle of David, which has fallen down” (Amos 9:11). I went back and restudied the Tabernacle of David, asking myself why would God want the church to resemble that makeshift tent pitched in the back of David’s home? Three things stood out to me from that study that I believe made God love the Tabernacle of David so much… so much so that He would want His church to look like just like it.
The first thing is that God loved the authentic worship that permeated that place day and night. The Bible says that encircling the Ark of the Covenant were groups of worshippers who ministered to the Lord 24/7 for 36 years. Secondly, unlike the Tabernacle of Moses or the incredible Temple of Solomon, there was no veil in the Tabernacle of David to separate the Ark of the Covenant from God’s people. You see God never liked that veil. He only established it to protect those who would approach it in an unholy manner. But God never wanted anything, especially a veil, to separate us from experiencing true intimacy with Him. He hated that veil… because it created a distance between God and His people. That’s why He ripped it from top to bottom in the temple of Herod once and for all, when Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary. So, God loved the authentic worship & He loved the fact that there was nothing that stood between Him and His people. And lastly, God loved the level of intimacy He shared with those who chose to rest in His presence there. We so often think about how much God wants us to spend time with Him that we forget just how much God wants to spend time with us! There is a great Vineyard song, “I Love Your Presence.” Well, He loves your presence too!
So, we sensed God calling us to build Him a house, to start a church. And that church should express what God loves… authentic worship, nothing to separate us from intimacy with Him, and a passion for His presence. For us to experience authentic worship, I believe our worship needs to be free of hype and performance. Our desire is to express to God the deep gratitude in our heart for who He is. You know, God is so incredibly generous to us. He has given even His own Son for us. But worship is reserved for Him alone. You’ll find that the songs our worship teams lead are songs written to Him rather than songs written about Him. In worship, we come as a community of people living in a complicated world experiencing all kinds of challenges. And yet, with a growing understanding of who we are, up against the backdrop of who our precious God is, we worship Him.
The simple truth is that God just loves our worship. In fact, His word says that He inhabits the praises of His people. That means that He steps away from the perfect praises of heaven in order to dwell in the midst of our imperfect worship. Why? Because He loves being with us. I just love what Solomon writes in the Song of Songs, “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine!” That reflects the kind of heart I believe God created us to have as a church… to be a community that not only lives in the knowledge that our God joyfully calls Himself our Faithful Father… but that we are His treasured possession!
So, that’s ultimately the calling God put on our hearts as we started this church… not to build some elaborate mega-church, but to simply build a house for the Lord… a church that expresses authentic worship and a deep intimacy and closeness with Him. Three years later, that simple vision still serves as the foundation upon which everything else in The Vineyard Church is built.