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A Church Planting Legacy

Katelyn Masyga

Katelyn Masyga

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Enjoy this classic interview with Steve Nicholson

Interviewer:    Let’s do the first part about legacy a bit.  Tell me he churches you guys have planted.   How many, in what different places, and kind of what the impact of that has been.

Steve Nicholson:    Well, let’s see.  We have planted 18 churches over 36 years, and No. 19 is slated to go out the door early next year.

Interviewer:    A lot of them in the Chicago area.

Steve Nicholson:    A lot in Chicago but also other places.  We had two in Ireland, one England, several in other cities.

Interviewer:    Detroit.

Steve Nicholson:    Detroit.

Interviewer:    Washington.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.  We got one in Virginia.  That’s maybe the Washington one that you’re thinking about.

Interviewer:    Oh, right, ’cause it’s across the border.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.

Interviewer:    How do you feel when you think about all those churches getting planted?  What do you feel like has been some of the impact both on your church and on people in other places?

Steve Nicholson:    I’d say for our church it’s been great, one, just because it creates sort of a mindset, a culture, of what’s next.  How can we reach more people, kind of an outward-oriented focus rather than a sort of what’s in the past.  It means that we are able to keep training people because we keep sending people out.  ’Cause of course, always their problem is that if you’re not sending people away, then if you train people then there’s nothing for them to do because all the spots get filled.

Interviewer:    In your mind, what is the – so you plant a lot of churches, and some of them grow a lot and some of them don’t; but if feels to me like if you plant a church that grows to 100 people, it actually has a bigger impact than if you just grew your church 100 people.  Would you agree with that?

Steve Nicholson:    I don’t know.  I find it hard to compare, really, because all I know is that when you are – every 100 people is of course, not just the 100 people; it’s they’re always there.  They’re the beginning of a whole new network of people that are gonna go and do things.  It’s always more; you can’t tell for sure just where it’s all gonna go.

Interviewer:    And it’s a whole new set of gifts being used and vision that pops up.

Steve Nicholson:    Yep.

Interviewer:    What about evangelism __________?  How many people do you think have come to Christ over – how long has Evanston Vineyard been around now?  Is it 35 years?

Steve Nicholson:    Thirty-six years.

Interviewer:    Thirty-six years.  How many people do you think have come to Christ in that amount of time?

Steve Nicholson:    Well, between us and all the church plants, probably thousands.

Interviewer:    That’s amazing.  How many new leaders do you think have been released into ministry?

Steve Nicholson:    Well, we know that.  In terms of people in fulltime ministry, at least, we know.

Interviewer:    What’s that?

Steve Nicholson:    It’s been like maybe 150 or something like that.

Interviewer:    Are you serious?  That’s unbelievable!

Steve Nicholson:    That’s counting people who are church planners, people who became assistant pastors, people who became missionaries.  Yeah, like 150 people.

Interviewer:    And that’s because a) longevity; but would you say that planting all those churches is part of what kept that culture, that kept producing new leaders, instead just sort of a stuck group of people for 36 years?

Steve Nicholson:    That was certainly part of it.  I think part of it is we were looking for people to train.  It’s always been the case that if you want to get our attention, all you have to do is say, “I think maybe God’s calling me to be a pastor or to be in fulltime ministry.”  We’re like bees on honey at that point.  So we paid attention.  We have some people who came to us because we would pay attention to them when, when they visited other Vineyard churches, they couldn’t get anybody to pay attention to them.

Interviewer:    Yeah, that’s really true.

Steve Nicholson:    As a result, they came to us, and we got the benefit of having them while they were with us, and we got to train them, and we get the credit afterwards.  And they got nothing!

Interviewer:    So there’s longevity, there’s willingness to invest in people, and then things like church planting that create the culture.  How much of that was intentional on your part, and how much of that is just that’s who Steve and his buddies are, that you just train pastors?  You know what I mean?  Did you set out to do that, or did you just be who you were and that was like end up being the outcome?

Steve Nicholson:    By the time I finished up at Carlton, I didn’t have very many things clear, but one thing that was in my mind then, and I remember saying this at the time, was that I knew that somehow in my lifetime I was supposed to be involved in helping plant hundreds of churches.

Interviewer:    Just ’cause you knew?

Steve Nicholson:    I guess I don’t know.  It seemed that it was a crazy idea.

Interviewer:    You were like twenty-what? Twenty-one.

Steve Nicholson:    I was like 21.

Interviewer:    And you just knew you wanted to plant hundreds of churches, and you just figured you should start with one.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.  Well, I mean you know.  First two I planted just so I could have a church to go to.  It’s sort of like wherever I was, if there wasn’t a church I liked, I just started one.

Interviewer:    I’m trying to think about your life and the impact of Evanston Vineyard.  It’s sort of this understated, long-term intentionality that if you just keep doing it, the outcome is unbelievable.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah, there’s a big reward for persistence, no doubt about it.

Interviewer:    Let’s do this impact on the church at large thing.  How many conferences has Evanston Vineyard put on in its history?

Steve Nicholson:    Oh, maybe – well, it depends on what you count as a conference.  Between the women’s conferences and other –

Interviewer:    At one point you guys used to do quarterly Holy Spirit things, ’cause I used to go to them.

Steve Nicholson:    I don’t know how you count those, but certainly dozens, maybe – I don’t know – 20 or 30 that we put on, although there was a long time there where it wasn’t so much that we were putting on conferences but I was speaking at lots of conferences.

Interviewer:    Right, that’s true.  You were traveling everywhere.

Steve Nicholson:    I was traveling all over the place.

Interviewer:    How many conferences do you think you’ve been involved with in your ministry?  Maybe that’s a better way to ask that question.

Steve Nicholson:    I don’t know, a couple hundred maybe.

Interviewer:    What’s been the impact of that?

Steve Nicholson:    I don’t know how you begin to measure that.  First of all, how do you separate it out?  Some of those were conferences that I was speaking at by myself; some of them were conferences I was traveling with Wimber along with 400 or 500 other people.  Some of them I shared with various other people.  A lot of them involved thousands of people, so you just have no way of following up.  I do know that I regularly experience people coming up and saying, “Back x number of years ago, I heard you speak, or you prayed for me or something at some conference somewhere, and it’s such a big impact.”

Interviewer:    I can say traveling around the Vineyard, I experienced that in regards to you.  It’s unbelievable.  Everywhere you go in the Vineyard.  “Why did you plant your church?”  “Well, I heard Steve Nicholson talk.”  “How did you end up in leadership?”  “Well, Steve Nicholson prayed for me.”  I think in my generation it’s almost like Wimber was for you guys.  It’s always like, “I went to see Wimber talk.”  You feel like asking them, it’s like, “Well, you know Steve was just this thing, and he said this thing, and this changed everything.”

I’m just gonna keep changing topics.  Let’s talk about the legacy.  I think probably the most recent thing that you’ve done is just becoming a multi-ethnic church.  That’s been a huge shift at Evanston Vineyard in the last, what, 15 years?

Steve Nicholson:    Twenty years, about.  It’s been about a 20-year process.

Interviewer:    And that was again intentional persistence on your part.  When you started that, multi-ethnicity wasn’t a thing, and now it is a thing.  What got in your craw that you knew this thing mattered, and what does it sort of – how do you think about the fact that now it’s this big, huge movement.  When you were starting it was just this – maybe it’s [crosstalk] –

Steve Nicholson:    Well, actually, we talked about multi-ethnic churches back in the 70s when we first started this church.

Interviewer:    Really?

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.

Interviewer:    How was that influenced by just the Bible?

Steve Nicholson:    Partly.  The Bible gets you in a whole peck of problems.


Interviewer:    That’s a Steve line right there.  “The Bible gets you in a whole peck of problems.”

Steve Nicholson:    But we talked about it back in the 70s.  There was some churches that tried doing it, and most of them blew up on racial lines.  There was still a lot of tension in the country about race, about ethnicity, left over from the 60s, and I remember at that point saying to people, “Don’t you think we should be multi-ethnic, multicultural?”  They’d say, “Yeah, I think that sounds like Heaven, but I’m not sure it’s possible on Earth.”  We were a mostly white church, but we always had a few – from early on, we had a few other people who wandered in who weren’t white.  We had a seminary student from – a black African who was over here studying for a while, and there was a Turkish guy that we led to the Lord who was going to school at Northwestern.  There were always a few other people that wandered in along the way but never very many, and we never did very much with it.

Then about 20 years ago, actually, it wasn’t a decision I made; it was more God spoke to me one day and said, “I’m going to make your church a multi-racial, multicultural church; and by the time I’m done, there won’t be a majority culture.”  That Word came true this year, 20 years later.  We are now, according to our annual survey, 50-percent white and 50-percent minority, which means I guess that word’ll come true next year probably.

Interviewer:    Yeah, one more percent.  Get some of the white people to leave.

Steve Nicholson:    [Laughs]

Interviewer:    But you did some things to make that happen.  You didn’t just hear the Word and then kind of leave it alone.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah, we’ve done some things along the way.  In the beginning, I just told God, “I don’t know how you’re gonna do that, but if you bring the people, I’ll do my best to love them, and we’ll start from that,” I would say that’s sort of an undersold reality of church life, that a lot of it just boils down to just loving people.  Not many people talk about it, but it’s kind of important, and it makes a big difference in the long run.  So it started off just that was my commitment.  “I don’t know what’s next; I don’t know what needs to happen; I don’t know what I need to do.  But God, if you bring the people, I’ll try to love them.”

So we didn’t try to make it happen; it was more of a response.  “Okay, if God does this, then we were try to respond cooperatively.”  Inevitably God did start bringing people, and so then I had to figure out what does it look like to love people, which meant I had to start talking to them and listening to them and listening to their stories.  As that began to pick up steam, I had to teach it from the Bible about multiculturalism and what that meant and why that’s important, and try to help my church learn how to understand and appreciate what God was doing and how to love each other.

Over the years I talked about everything from Biblical principles for multicultural societies to sometimes just a little basic history.  A lot of white people are kind of ignorant about what’s actually happened to other people.  [Laughs]

Interviewer:    Yeah, that’s so true.

Steve Nicholson:    So we had to do some work on that.  Eventually we started making intentional efforts and figuring out what is—in terms of bringing people into leadership and adjusting worship and so forth, and it just has slowly increased more and more and more and gotten more and more diverse.  Now it’s not just 50-percent non-white but it’s people from 46 different nations of the world.  It’s many different cultures.

Interviewer:    I want to go off notes, and I want to see if I can figure out how to ask this to you.  If I look at these four – and really the fifth bit of legacy I put there that I’ll ask you about in a minute, which we already actually talked a little bit about is just that impact on young leaders – it sounds so matter-of-fact when you say it, but the impact is incredible.  To create a diverse church in this society, to impact lives all over the country, to see thousands of people come to Christ, to plant 18 churches, and to continually plant churches for like a longevity of a church’s history, most pastors of churches like me don’t end up there.  They don’t persist in loving people and this simple faith and obedience.  We either drop out of ministry entirely or somewhere get stuck.  I wouldn’t name names, but I could just tell you people your age where they didn’t keep doing that.  They’re not bad people; God loves them; I’m sure their ministry’s precious to Jesus.

Can you – I mean I’m not trying to say, “What makes you special?” but how does one be the sort of person who persists in that kind of simple obedience for a very long time?

Steve Nicholson:    I don’t know.  I thought about quitting things of times.  [Laughter]  I just never could find the exit.

Interviewer:    I knew you were going to come up with a humble way to answer that question.

Steve Nicholson:    Well, it’s kind of true.  It wasn’t – there were lots of times when I thought if I could quit, I would.

Interviewer:    Why couldn’t you?

Steve Nicholson:    I just never could figure out how.

Interviewer:    What do you mean by that?

Steve Nicholson:    How do you quit?

Interviewer:    I mean do you submit your proposal and you get out the classifieds and you look for another job.  But you just—

Steve Nicholson:    Well, the problem is there’s like God is in this equation.  It’s sort of like if you’re committed to following Jesus and actually following Him, there’s a sort of “Father, may I?” in the process.  He just never let me quit.  I think maybe – I don’t know – it seems to me the only way to quit is to stop listening to Jesus, I guess.  I’ve seen people quit and try to run away, and a lot of times they end up coming back – a little worse for the wear, but coming back nonetheless.  I don’t think he lets us off the hook that easy.  So I think that’s part of it.

I think another part is my father was a pastor, so I grew up around the church.  I’ve been around it my whole life.  My key associate, his father was a pastor, too, so he grew up our whole lives.  I think maybe we had a little more realistic expectations about what this was in the first place.  I think we knew from the beginning that it is just a hard – well, I like Eugene Peterson’s phrase that he used for a title of one of his books: “A long obedience in the same direction.”  I think we understood that that was the game we were in from the get-go.

I don’t know if people always do that.  We have these expectations of something else.  When we started, I had no expectation of having a big church or any of this other stuff, really, other than I knew I was supposed to plant hundreds of churches, but I had no clue how that was gonna happen.  But our expectations were pretty low, and we didn’t try to have wild-eyed dreams.  Somebody asked me a couple of years ago, “Have you fulfilled your dreams for your life?”  I just laughed, and I said, “Oh, we passed those up a long ways back.”  [Laughs]  I wasn’t really trying to have all these wild dreams for my life; it just turned out that God had more in mind than I did.

Interviewer:    Let me ask you about this last one.  We already talked about it a bit, but almost anywhere I’ve been in the world with any kind of a Vineyard network, I talked to young people who’ve been deeply impacted by you.  It’s gotta be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.  I’m hearing you just say, “Well, I was just obedient to God.”  Is there something you can say about where that kind of impact comes from?  When you look at a young person, is there something that you’re thinking or something God tends to say?  I don’t know.  What can you say to that?

Steve Nicholson:    I think I would say No. 1, I’ve always had faith for the next generation to do better than we did, and I think that makes a big difference.  I’ve always expected you guys to stand on our shoulders and surpass what we’ve done.  So I’m just all the time looking for who’s gonna do that.  A lot times I talk to pastors, and I say, “How do you motivate young people?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  It’s sort of like, “Are we on the same planet?”  Because I never have any trouble with that.  You understand what I mean?

Interviewer:    No.

Steve Nicholson:    I don’t have any trouble finding young people who are motivated.

Interviewer:    Why do you think other people do?  What are they missing?

Steve Nicholson:    They don’t have faith.  No. 1, they don’t actually have faith for the new generation.  They approach them with skepticism instead of faith.  Or they’re just not even interested.  Whereas no, I have a lot of faith.  I expect great things, and I figure I want to be a part of it, so I’m gonna give them encouragement.  So that’s the beginning.  I think out of that, then you pay attention to people.  You’re looking, and you see them, and you pay attention.  I’m looking for people who want to do great things, and wherever I find them, I try to blow on that fire a little bit any way that I can.

Interviewer:    So here’s a funny tension to what you just said.  You had lower expectations for your own life, but you have higher expectations for other people’s lives.  Would you say that’s true?

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah, probably.

Interviewer:    That’s a funny tension.

Steve Nicholson:    Well, it seems to work really well for me, anyway.


Interviewer:    How old were you, do you think, when you started think about a little more intentionally about the next generation?

Steve Nicholson:    I was 20 years old.

Interviewer:    What did the next generation mean to you when you were 20?  Ten-year-olds?

Steve Nicholson:    No, when I was 20, I was at university.  We had a thriving ministry on campus.  It grew to like ten percent of the student body, and I was think about, “What’s gonna happen when we graduate?”  So I started intensely trying to train the people who were gonna come after we were gone.

Now, I have to say it didn’t actually work out all that well at the beginning.  I’m not sure we picked the right people to start with, and it didn’t pan out.  But I was already thinking that way, and I’ve just always kept thinking that way.  Who’s gonna come after?

Interviewer:    One thing is like everybody who’s in ministry is a) you’re trying to manage what you have – the church you’re pastoring in the moment you’re pastoring it – in almost every area, it’s not like you did something extraordinary; you just pushed a little bit past that.  Not just this present moment but also what comes next, and not just this church but maybe a church in another place, and not just the pastors that I’m maybe overseeing but a few – it’s just seeing a little bit further in every area.

Steve Nicholson:    My favorite question to ask people is, “What’s next?”

Interviewer:    That’s good.  If you just think that way a little bit all the time, it multiplies in impact over time.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah, I think that could be true.

Interviewer:    Interesting.  I don’t know what exactly I’m gonna do with this interview; it’s probably like four articles already.  Let’s talk about that little poster that Facebook can’t get enough of.  You know the one that says, “We’re having a meeting, Christ Church of the North Shore.”  Tell me what you remember about having that printed up and where you put it.  How did the meeting turn out?

Steve Nicholson:    It was kind of like the other stuff.  It was really matter-of-fact, like, “Okay, let’s start a church.  What do we need to do?”  “Well, let’s meet and tell people about it.”  So that letter, we started with the people we knew and we sent them that letter and just kept on like that.  Just like we’re doing this thing, and we told people about it.

Interviewer:    How many people showed up to the meeting?

Steve Nicholson:    I think the first work, maybe 20, maybe 25, the first week.

Interviewer:    Then did that immediately turn into the church, just one week at a time?

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.  When we met on Sunday.  We had a meeting place; we thought of it as a church on Day One.  People always ask me, “What was your vision?”  I say, “Our vision was we can do a church that we don’t have to dress up for, and we can have guitars and worship, and we can have small groups.”  We fulfilled the vision on the first Sunday, and we just kept doing it and just kept telling people.

Interviewer:    Let me pick apart this thing a little bit, ’cause I’ve actually spent a lot of time looking at it and thinking—

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah, you’ve spent more time looking at it than we probably spent writing it.  [Laughs]

Interviewer:    Do you ever feel like that’s kind of the truth about the New Testament?

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.

Interviewer:    I think Paul was like, “I never thought about it that hard, guys.  Jeez!”


Steve Nicholson:    I think that might be the case.

Interviewer:    “It’s just a letter to Galatia.  Get over it.”  It’s pretty bold.  Let me just say about that.  You’re just like, “The Lord is calling us to do this,” and at the end it says, “God has guided us in an obvious way.”  When I think about one struggle a lot of young church planters is this sort of hesitancy like, “Maybe God’s gonna do this; I’m not sure.”  This is just a pretty stark, bold confidence that you knew what God was calling you to do.  How do you get there, and what does it take for a church planter to have that kind of – I don’t know – clarity, or boldness, or naiveté, or whatever it was?

Steve Nicholson:    There’s a backstory behind that in that we’d been in a previous church – several of us friends together – that blew up.  When the church blew up, it as agony just trying to figure out what we were supposed to do, because it went in all kinds of directions and pieces, and so what do you do?  We had meetings with each other, trying to decide together, ’cause we knew we wanted to stick together somehow, and made lists of pros and cons, all of which were worthless.  Finally, I just literally laid on the floor of my bedroom and cried out to God and said, “God, you know what?  I don’t care anymore what you tell me to do; just tell me what you want so that I’ll never doubt it again, so that I’ll know what it is that you want me to do.  Then I’ll do that, whatever that is.”

What proceeded to happen was over the next two weeks, God gave me a very clear vision for this church, and then people started calling me and said, “I think God’s telling me that we’re supposed to start a church.”  I think it’s interesting because maybe in light of all the previous discussion, this was one of the most essential things, is that we knew that we knew that we knew that God called us to this, and maybe that’s why we never quit.  It seems to me like that’s the most essential thing anybody’s gonna leave the church.  You just have to know that God’s called you to it and not doubt, ’cause if you start doubting, you’re done.

So we just got that at the beginning, and it was born out of agony, and weakness, and disaster, and pain.  But there was something that came out of that that’s never been shaken since.  I mean literally, God answered my prayer.  It’s like, “This is what you’re supposed to do,” and I’ve never doubted.

Interviewer:    When I was – I just wanted to tell you this story, it just reminds me – when I was 20 years old, you came to Jeff Bailey’s small group at Trinity Seminary, and my girlfriend took me.  You said, “You should pray a prayer and say, ‘God, anything you want to do in my life, I’ll do it.”  Then Jeff Bailey said, “That’s a pretty dangerous prayer,” and I remember hearing that and thinking, “That guy’s a wimp.  I’m gonna go home and pray that prayer.”

Steve Nicholson:    [Laughs]

Interviewer:    A week later, my girlfriend dumped me, and I said, “God, I was just kidding.”  But I think if I had married that girl and not married ______, I would not have gotten a single place in my life that I’ve ever gotten so far.

Steve Nicholson:    There you go.

Interviewer:    But it’s like agony and weakness and pain, but just like, “God, if you will tell me to” – this is like a thing in your heart where you just say, “If you’ll actually point me, I’ll actually do it.”  If you can say that when you’re young and stupid enough to actually mean it…

Steve Nicholson:    I tell you what: that’s one of the most powerful prayers you ever pray in your life, and it’ll take you a long ways if you stick with it.

Interviewer:    I wonder – I’m curious if you really pushed on the average Christian 25-year-old, how many of them are willing to pray that prayer and how many wouldn’t be.  It’d just be really interesting.

Steve Nicholson:    That sounds like a sermon to me.

Interviewer:    Okay, I’ll stop preaching.  This happens when preachers talk to each other, you know?

Steve Nicholson:    [Laughs]

Interviewer:    This is just classic Steve, No. 2.  In I think maybe growing out of that confident sense of what God was doing, there was just very clear next steps.  “Here’s who it is; here’s what’s going on.”  You know that very practical side of, “Now we know what we’re doing.  Here’s the building; here’s the time; here’s the phone number; here’s the people.”  Just talk about the importance for somebody now that they’re obeying God, doing that practical stuff really well.

Steve Nicholson:    When I look back on that, I don’t feel like it was – I wouldn’t use the term “very well” to describe it.  [Laughs]  I think that anybody who does the basic stuff that we teach them to do in our church plant training now does it ten times better than we ever did.  We had a clarity about a few very simple things, but we didn’t really have the clarity of vision that we make people have right now.  We kind of discovered it along the way.  We hadn’t really thought through, “What’s our strategy for getting people to come to the church or gathering people?”  We weren’t even thinking –

Interviewer:    Yeah, you knew what your strategy was.  You sent them a letter.

Steve Nicholson:    We sent them a letter; that was a bit out.

Interviewer:    “We’re starting a church.  Show up.”

Steve Nicholson:    And then I – but you know what the biggest thing was, though?  It’s just we sent the letter, and then after that I just invited people.  I invited everybody I could, everybody I met.  I just invited people.  But it was nothing beyond that.  I think it’s always important to remember, of course, it was a very different time in terms of culture and spirituality.  You could get away with it then.  There was a much greater openness in society at large towards spiritual things than there is now.  But it was kind of – there is a linear thing there.  It’s sort of like, “Well, here’s our next step; this is what we do.”

Interviewer:    Just church planters I work with now, Steve, if I could get them to just say, “We’re starting Sunday.  It’s at 3:00; it’s at my house; please come.”  We’d get a lot further than some of this tortured, creative, “I have no idea what you’re trying to do,” stuff that goes on.

Steve Nicholson:    Well, that’s interesting.  That’s an interesting thought.

Interviewer:    No. 3, I’m just gonna skip; we already talked about that.  This kind of circles back to the whole thing you said about you gotta plant churches to create space for people.  You’re recruiting musicians on a little leaflet.  That’s pretty funny.

Steve Nicholson:    Well, that was ’cause we were desperate.  We wanted to have a church with guitars, but we didn’t have any guitarists.  So you want to know what actually happened?

Interviewer:    Yeah.

Steve Nicholson:    We couldn’t get any guitarists, so I went to a music store and bought a guitar myself, and I found a book that had pictures of fingering, and I taught myself about five or six chords on the guitar, and I was the worship leader on a guitar for the first year myself.

Interviewer:    Was it pretty awesome?

Steve Nicholson:    Huh?

Interviewer:    Was it awesome?

Steve Nicholson:    It was every Sunday.  I was it.  Every Sunday until eventually somebody who actually really knew hot play guitar came along, and then we got them to do it.

Interviewer:    The other spirit of that thing is asking for musicians, and just calling people to pray, and inviting them in to be a part of it.  I want to think about – ’cause you have there – I know you think I’m overinterpreting it, but I just – you have there this confident vision, these practical next steps, and now an invitation to be involved.  “We want you to be involved.”  That’s – I mean if you do that, that’s a church plant, right?

Steve Nicholson:    That’s it.

Interviewer:    Then as time went on, how did you keep making more space for people to be involved?

Steve Nicholson:    Well, we had small groups, so we had more small group leaders and added some various other kind of leaders and that got more people involved, and some other ministries and that got some more people involved.  Then I think we had a few years – four or five years – where we were kind of stuck and we weren’t making much more space, and that led us up to meeting Wimber and the Vineyard.  Then he just took sort of what we had in embryo form and just took it light years beyond – to change metaphors – just took it so much further than we could, and all of a sudden we had whole new conceptions of how to get people involved.

Interviewer:    What changed when you met Wimber?  Just intentionality?

Steve Nicholson:    Somewhat, but a lot of how-to.  When we met Wimber and the Vineyard, we had an almost immediate reaction, like this is our long-lost family.  These are the people who are doing what we’ve always wanted to do but we just never could figure out how to do it very well.  That was our immediate reaction.  This is where we belonged right from the beginning.  We just didn’t know it.  They have more awareness, more wisdom, about how to do it than we have, not to mention a much bigger platform.  So we just jumped on.

Interviewer:    Maybe that might be why people look at that picture on Facebook and get excited, because you see it – like you said, it’s in embryo form.  “God is doing something.  Would you like to be involved?  We’d love to make you a part.  Everybody gets to play, and we’re just gonna follow Jesus wherever he takes us.”

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah.

Interviewer:    It sounds so simple, but in some ways it’s really not.  That’s some of the seeds of the movement that we have now.

Steve Nicholson:    Yeah, I think Wimber would like that description, actually.

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