Missions Leadership Team Introduction:
VM: Thanks for joining us to give us the run-down on who God made when He made you, Jerry! So, what is it you do in the Vineyard?
Jerry: Currently I am developing and supporting things in four areas. 1. Leader Care, including developing national spiritual directors and retreat leaders in emerging AVC’s, and supporting our Missions Regional Coordinators. 2. Travel security and child safety. 3. Selecting – sending – caring for our Long Term Cross Cultural Workers, and 4. Developing a retreat for people who are called to Justice and Compassion ministry.
I am talking to leaders, both national and international most days, offering consultation, coaching, prayer, and counseling.
VM: Wow! That’s more than a plate or even a platter. God’s given you a buffet table to care for! When and where did you find the Vineyard?
Jerry: Val, my wife, and I went to our first service at Vineyard Anaheim in 1981, back when we met in the Canyon High School gym. I had what is apparently a classic experience, crying for joy and relief in the worship times and knowing I had come home when John Wimber talked about being “naturally supernatural.”
Coming from a very “doing”-oriented church background, I remember coming to Eddie Espinosa, one of the worship leaders, after 6 months at Anaheim, and I offered to do ministry with kids. There had been a call for 4th grade teachers for Sunday services. I told Eddie that I had a degree in Religious Education and had written curriculum for kids and taught several Sunday school classes. After a brief discussion Eddie said, “Jerry, just keep on receiving, God is doing a work of transformation in you. The time to serve will come. Enjoy being with Jesus.”
Val and I were “kinship” group leaders at Anaheim in the mid 80’s to early 90’s. Our groups were a safe place for broken and struggling people. As I was finding healing and deliverance in that time, I fit right in!
VM: That’s beautiful. I’m glad you took the time to receive. What is a prayer that you pray daily?
Jerry: I have had seasons of different daily prayers; the Jesus Prayer, the “Oh, God, help!” prayer that John Wimber made famous, and in recent years, my prayers are those prayers that emerge from my annual, personal 5-day retreats.
For the recent year or more I have prayed this prayer: “Guide my day, Shepherd of my soul. Help me humbly receive your guidance. Bring me back from my wanderings to the place of connection and safety.”
VM: Love that! It seems to be working. What is your favorite memory with Jesus?
Jerry: Wow, so many favorites! As a way of life I practice being in the present moment with Jesus. My lifeline is knowing the Presence of God and find my heart and mind turning to Him throughout the day.
I came to adult faith in Jesus as a senior in high school and had a dramatic experience, for which I had no frame of reference, where the Love of Jesus overwhelmed me. I was overcome with the Love. My best days are the ones where I am aware of receiving and sharing that transforming, powerful love. My “way in” was love and that is my “way on.”
VM: What is your highest priority for your area of influence this year?
Jerry: To answer that, we have to go back a little. For the past 8 years, my focus has been what we call “Leader Care.” These are spiritual formation retreats, offered in a contemplative fashion that my team of spiritual directors and I offer to senior pastors of emerging Vineyard movements. [We offer national leaders two retreats per year for two years and one in the third year, in their own country, providing a comfortable, safe environment conducive to slowing down, hearing Jesus’ voice, receiving His presence and knowing the love of the Father.] Stories of transformation with busy leaders developing as human beings, more that human doings are plentiful. As we train ourselves to be leaders who listen to, wait for, and follow Jesus’ lead, we give that away to the people we are discipling.
Now, what has emerged from our Leader Care focus is building national teams who are better able to work together, and who seek to “give away” what they have received.
Since sustainability requires that they have their own spiritual directors and people who can lead retreats, my current focus is to find spiritual direction training that will work within the financial and geographic reality in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, and India.
VM: That is no small endeavor, but it will be worth every ounce of effort when the vision is fulfilled! How do you unwind on your Sabbath day?
Jerry: Since I am not usually teaching or preaching on a Sunday, that day is often my Sabbath. I am challenged by writers like Ruth Haley Barton and others who present from scripture and life experience the need to follow God’s design for rest. It is an act of “faith” for sure: to let go of email, devices, screens, writing and counseling. Sabbath is to be still and know God. I am always blessed when I live in this space and I am slowly, but steadily making room for God, my family, and community when I practice Sabbath.
VM: What is the Lord teaching you this week?
Jerry: Well, the things I didn’t learn last week, and the week before…
VM: *laughter* AMEN!
Jerry: Okay, more specific… I wear lots of hats. I have my work with Vineyard Missions, which is a part time, paid position. My other work is as a “Member Care Provider” where I use my skills as a counselor, coach, and trainer for those who are going to the least-reached and unreached peoples of the world. Val and I are supported missionaries with Member Care International for our Member Care work. While there is great similarity in these two roles, there is also a need for Spirit-led priorities in the many opportunities and demands.
So, the lesson I am learning (again) this week is that the condition of my soul matters. I must stay connected with Jesus, my wife, and my community. I cannot do this alone. (It does not work anyway!) I need to daily stay in the “easy yoke” with Jesus and those who journey with me. Those others include the richness I’ve found in relationship with my wife, Val, family, friends, colleagues, a spiritual director, a coach, and Immanuel Approach coaches who pray with me. These are the ones helping me to stay connected with the One who loves me most, Jesus. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) really fits here: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
VM: What book do you recommend to challenge leaders to the next level?
Jerry: Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy and Engagement in the People You Lead by Warner and Wilder. God made us (and our brains) to live in Joy. Trust and engagement happen in teams and groups where leaders lead with joy.
VM: That sounds like something we should all pick up. Two more questions on the lighter side. Do you have a favorite new technology or app? How does it help you?
Jerry: On most days (except when traveling and my body clock does not really know what time it is!) I fast from looking at back-lit screens from 7PM to 7AM. I use a “real” book for my devotional time and other reading. My brain does better and I sleep better with this routine.
But 7AM to 7PM, I do use apps and the Internet a lot! So, one to get is “Meeting Planner” by timeanddate.com. You can schedule meetings in multiple time zones, making it possible for everyone to actually make the meeting “on time.” Of course “on time” is a culturally bound concept (even in the USA) and there is no app for that.
VM: *More laughter and head shaking* and then there’s Vineyard time, too. Do you have any unusual talents?
Jerry: I live in the mountains of Idaho. I love the joys and challenges of each season. So, in the past few years I have developed new “talents” such as logging, road grading, operating a back-hoe, and removing lots of snow on my ¼ mile hill side drive way. I love water sports like sailing and surfing. I am a sailing instructor and enjoy ocean sailing (which does not happen often enough, I live in Idaho!), and I have learned to run white water as a raft guide. Being a safety-first kind of person, I wanted to learn river safety, so I became certified as a white-water rescue person. A big challenge with this is: I really don’t like cold water. Surfing in Hawaii anyone?
VM: Sounds like a perfect plan to me? Do you suppose we could suggest a change of venue for the MLM next year?
Jerry: We would miss out on the Colorado views and hiking.
VM: True. Colorado mountain vistas inspire greatness and can hardly be beaten! Jerry, thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you. It’s been a delight to hear your heart and see your deep love for Jesus and people.