Missions Leadership Team Introduction:
VM: Welcome, Christie Costello. Thanks for telling us a little bit about you today. When did you first jump into the Vineyard Movement?
Christie: I discovered Vineyard music in college, then when I moved to California in 1995, I visited the Vineyard church in Newport Beach (led by John McClure at the time). In 1996, I moved inland and started attending Vineyard Pomona when Mark Fields was the lead pastor. His talks about his cross-cultural experiences resonated with my soul. I knew I was in the right place.
VM: What a start! What is it you do in the Vineyard?
Christie: In 2004, my husband, Chris and I joined a Vineyard church plant team. We were deeply involved with that Vineyard church until 2016 (12 years). I led our board and was a pastor there up until we left. So in the local church setting, I have been one of those “all hands on deck” people. I think I’ve functioned in almost every church role there is – oh wait, (*laughing*) I never led men’s ministry!
In 2008, Mark (Fields) needed some help with Vineyard Missions, and Chris and I stepped in to help with travel and administration. We also helped coordinate the Missions Leaders Meeting (MLM) that year. And we stuck! This October will be our 10th MLM!
A couple years ago, I joined the Missions Leadership Team (MLT) as Communications Coordinator. (Chris is still actively event planning, among many other tasks!) As Communications Coordinator, my entire focus and mission is to make sure we (Vineyard USA churches) are talking about missions and what God is doing through the Vineyard all over the world. I want to serve and help us realize greater engagement at the local church level. I am always looking for ways to connect people with our leaders, to inspire our movement with stories, to communicate our vision and the unique way the Vineyard does missions through blogs and videos. At the same time, I am super relational, so I have a passion for making sure our team stays connected with one another, even though we live all around the US. And I absolutely love learning about cross-cultural communication and cultural differences.
In my role, I get to engage with so many amazing Vineyard leaders all over the US and even many around the world. Sometimes I pinch myself and wonder how I got here. It’s such a blessing in so many ways. My husband and I have grown more spiritually and emotionally over this past decade than at any other time in our lives. We are “all in” and feel like we practically bleed “Vineyard.” As Phil Strout said at the national conference, “The Vineyard is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” I think much of that is because of the level of involvement we have been privileged to experience - being able to learn from people who have been in the trenches and who have so much passion for Jesus.
VM: WOW! I think you like your job! *chuckling at the obvious* What is a prayer that you pray daily?
Christie: “Thank you.” I have to practice gratitude every day. When I don’t, I can easily fall into complaining. “Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
VM: What is your favorite memory with Jesus?
Christie: I was in an Immanuel Prayer time with Val Reddix, and I was thinking of a painful memory of when I felt very alone as an 8-year-old girl. Jesus showed up in my memory, and he had this big grin on His face. Val said, “Why don’t you ask Jesus why he’s smiling.” I asked, and I heard Him say, “I’m always smiling at you.” It was the sweetest moment I think I’ve ever had with Jesus. It’s a moment I can go back to when I am feeling shame or fear or loneliness. Jesus is smiling at me with pride. The good kind.
VM: Oh that is just precious! I know Jesus is always smiling with pride over who you are! What is your highest priority for VM communications this year?
Christie: Currently, my highest priority is trying new things. I constantly experiment with ways to expand our reach into more of our VUSA churches. There are still churches that don’t know what a missions partnership is or why that is a key strategy in the way we do missions in the Vineyard. I’m always looking for new ways to get that message across – that life is about something bigger than just “my local church.” But it’s so different than how people are used to thinking of missions that I have to find creative ways to get that message out. It’s super exciting once people catch the vision!
This year we’ve been increasing our social media presence with a consistent schedule and regular-like-clockwork newsletter. That means creating a constant flow of new videos, blogs, and stories. Next year, I think I’m going to experiment with how to get all types of people engaged in different ways, even if they aren’t senior pastors or missions pastors. This is tricky, but it’s on the minds of several of us. So I’m going to see what we can plan to serve our awesome young adults at Cause Con in April.
VM: How do you unwind on your Sabbath day?
Christie: In addition to Vineyard Missions, I’m also in seminary right now. That means that these days my sabbath is more irregular and frequently includes a lot of assigned reading. But seminary is not forever. I’ll graduate in May of next year (2018).
VM: Ah seasons! Sometimes the beginning of seasons is the most fun, sometimes the completing of seasons is the best. What is the Lord teaching you this week?
Christie: Not just this week but this past year – the Lord is teaching me how to wait. I always want to jump to the next thing and do and move. I can be incredibly high strung and high energy. In the midst of some huge transition, God wants me to be OK just waiting on him for next steps. It was super uncomfortable at first because I worried about others’ perceptions. But I think I’m in the groove now. I have cast aside those fears, and I’ll just wait here until God says otherwise.
VM: Yes. “Wait” is often so much harder than “go.” So some quick preference questions: Futbol or Football?
Christie: Neither. I’m more into individual sports like CrossFit and gymnastics and even Ninja Warrior! Something is super inspiring about the personal achievement stories in those arenas. But each of those individual sports also have incredibly tight-knit communities that do life together in various ways. It’s the tension between “we have to make our own way” and “we’re really all in this together.” Plus watching people overcome amazing obstacles and seeing people do things with their bodies that seem impossible to my non-athletic self – it just inspires me to be better.
VM: Steak, chicken, or fish?
Christie: I like all three, in that order.
VM: Awesome! I’m eating with you! Sweet or salty food splurge?
Christie: I’m a sugar addict of the worst kind – seriously, Twelve Step-level, full-on addict. My worst vice right now is the Starbucks caramel frappuccino, but I’m a sucker for most sweets in general.
VM: LOL! So after our steak, chicken and fish dinner, we are having cookies, cake and coffee at Starbucks! We need to put a date on that one, but we’d better go for a run before we start! Do you have any unusual talents?
Christie: I don’t know if it’s a talent, but I often see things that others don’t see. It can get me into trouble, but it is also immensely helpful when I’m in a strategic role like I am right now. Strategic thinking invigorates me. I also sing, but in the Vineyard, that’s not unusual at all!
VM: What book do you recommend to challenge leaders to the next level?
Christie: *her eyes actually light up!* There are so many great ones, but one that really impacted me as a pastor was Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton.
Because I have a pretty traumatic past, I tend to gravitate to books about growth, spiritual health, and healing old wounds. The Critical Journey (Hagberg & Guelich), Sacred Pathways (Gary Thomas), and The Wisdom of the Enneagram (Riso & Hudson), have all impacted me immensely in my growth journey over these last several years. My bookshelves are full of good stuff, and it’s getting overwhelming now because I’m adding all my Fuller Seminary course books. So. Many. Good. Books!
VM: My favorite way to get to know someone is browsing their personal bookshelves! What’s your favorite book of the Bible?
Christie: I can’t pick a favorite, but I’ve been living in the Psalms through recent times of pain and grief. They have helped me to learn how to lament well, so much so that I think God is already starting to use me to help others learn to grieve and lament well. Also, I just really love the Gospel of Luke and how we get to experience the rich stories of Mary, Elizabeth, and other women at a deeper level.
VM: Mmm, yes! Do you have a favorite new technology or app? How does it help you?
Christie: Waze. Definitely Waze! It’s a GPS app. It has helped me navigate some crazy real-time traffic. (Very important in SoCal.) The app got even more fun a couple of weeks ago when I discovered you can record your own voice directions! My 11-year-old niece and I spent an afternoon recording silly voices for the GPS directions. We created voices like “Backseat Driver,” “Baby Dakota,” and “Opera Auntie”! Built a great new memory with my Dakota.
VM: That sounds like such fun! I am sure we could go on chatting for ages, but we will sign off for now. All the best to you and your communications team as you pursue new ways of connecting churches to Vineyard Missions’ vision for planting church planting movements in the nations.