Missions Leadership Team Introduction:
VM: Roy Conwell. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. What role do you function in for Vineyard Missions?
Roy: I’m a Specialist for Partnership Health. We are two years into the development of this aspect of resourcing for our partnership leaders.
VM: And you are a full-time senior pastor at the same time, right?
Roy: Yes, my wife Gail and I have been the senior pastors of Mountain Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Covington, Washington for over 30 years.
VM: Wow! That is a good long time to stay in one place, especially for folks so deeply invested in the missions world. When did you first jump into the Vineyard Movement?
Roy: 1986. To get in the Vineyard we traveled from Seattle (Kent) to Lancaster California where we met Tri and Nancy Robinson at the Ranch. The Desert Vineyard, then led by Brent and Happy Rue, after a few weeks decided we were part of the tribe, and Vineyard welcomed us in!
VM: Tri has played a role in several of the MLTs stories. That’s great. What is a prayer that you pray daily?
Roy: I pray, “Jesus make your presence known to me today. May I have eyes to see what the Father is doing and ears to hear what you are saying to me today. Help me focus on what lasts forever and do those things. Help me return to joy from the things that distress my soul. Help me love my wife and God have mercy on me a sinner.” I also listen daily to Pray As You Go, and I do Sacred Space.
VM: That’s so good. Your humble desperation is inspiring. Spending all that time with Jesus in prayer, you must have a favorite time or two. What is your favorite memory with Jesus?
Roy: I remember when he first came to me in a vision while I was in college. He lifted me out of the garbage of my life, and as messy as I was, He held me. That was the first time I felt the love of God saturate my whole being. :-)
VM: That is really special. It is so like our Great God to be so visual and experiential for you simultaneously. In thinking about your goals for your area of specialty, what is your highest priority for VM Partnership Health this year?
Roy: We are still developing the process for Partnership Health. We are almost two years into development. My priority is that each partnership leader who participates in the process will continue to be well-served through the assessment tool, the cohort of fellow leaders, and their missional coaches - and ultimately that our partnership leaders will grow the health of their partnership churches as well as the churches in the country or people group they serve. The process is continually under review for improvement.
VM: Your use of the word cohort makes me smile. It provides the connotation of people working undercover in sharp and clever ways. Maybe even like Tolkien’s Hobbit’s characters banding together in search of a great treasure and working together in a grand adventure—but without the thievery of course!—Cohort definitely describes the VM Missional Leaders Team. So, what is the Lord teaching you this week?
Roy: I love life, and I hate death. I recently did six funerals in four weeks. It takes me a lot of time to process through all the grief. Death can get a hold on me, so Jesus has been talking to me through His cross not to fear death. My own mortality as well as that of my parents who are in their late 80’s weighs on me sometimes. Seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and participating in his death as well as his resurrection is taking the sting out of those thoughts. Jesus is showing me all the people he sends me to make me laugh and play and return to joy in his presence.
VM: That is awesome, Roy! Jesus is kind. Grief processing can get tricky, but we have One who sticks closer than a brother. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible?
Roy: Definitely - the Gospel of John. Most of my younger life I was like Peter, but I wanted to be like John, the one Jesus loved. Over the years, I came to love this gospel of intimacy and the glorious love the Father and the Son share and into which I am constantly being invited.
It paints a picture of a new world coming through the resurrection of Jesus and His followers, where all that is wrong will be made right by the One who chose to live in the dirt of our world. John presents Jesus in the many earthy terms Jesus used for himself like water, bread, shepherd, friend. I love how Jesus made breakfast for his confused disciple after he rose from the dead. One day the voice of the Son of God will be heard throughout the earth, and all who believe in Jesus will come out of their graves to begin a new a glorious world. Come Lord Jesus, Maranatha!
VM: Now I’m all excited! It is a beautiful and exciting picture of our future. Do you have any books you can recommend that would challenge leaders to their next level?
Roy: Yes. Warner and Wilder’s Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead, and a secular book from 2010 called Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.
VM: Now some quick fun questions: Futbol or Football?
Roy: My family has many athletes. We are BIG on football. I played in college and my youngest brother Ernie (youngest of 9 in my family) played in the NFL for the Rams and won the Super Bowl.
VM: What! That’s so neat! Steak, chicken or fish?
Roy: I love to cook outside on my barbeque and feed the family.
VM: So, all of the above! How do you unwind on your Sabbath day?
Roy: I love to ride my bicycle, sail our Yankee 30 sailboat, and hike the beautiful trails around Mount Rainier and the Cascades.
VM: I hiked at the MLM with you once and you can really move it! I still use the kicking-backward while walking technique when I think I cannot go any further uphill. LIFE-saver! Do you have any unusual talents?
Roy: I can take complex theological truths and make them understandable to non-scholars.
VM: That is very useful in your line of work! What a terrific gift. For our final question, do you have a favorite attribute of God?
Roy: His Mercy that endures forever that flows out of the glorious love the Father and the Son had before the world was. I am invited into that Glory!
VM: Roy, that is beautiful! Thanks so much for letting us get to know you a more personal level and see what makes that smile so big. Thanks for all you are developing and providing for the missions partnership leaders’ health and churches’ health. You and your infectious grin are an asset to the Kingdom.