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Justin Juntunen

Justin Juntunen

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In this profile, I love how Shari’s personality not only comes through, but how it turns up as a key part of how God is using her in the church she is planting.


Name: Shari Luebbert

Church Plant: Tapestry Vineyard Church

Location: Elko, MN

Recent read: I just finished “Carry On, Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton. Even though our theology doesn’t always match up, her thoughts on life and loving others are so inspiring. Some great quotes from the book, “When your miracle doesn’t happen the way you planned, it becomes important to look for peripheral miracles.” “Better is a troublesome word for me. Better suggests increased value, and I think I was worth exactly the same when I was a falling-down drunk as I am now: a sober, loving, creative wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend.” “We know that any faith worth a damn is a faith worked out over a lifetime of relationships with other people.”

Music you are listening to right now:  Bethel Music’s “You Make Me Brave” album. Today, my favorite from the album is “Wonder” spontaneous worship. Other than that, I’m hooked on “Still Hopeful” by Tapestry’s very own worship leader, Aren Johnson. 🙂 Last week, I was listening to 80’s dance music.

Favorite Day-off Activity:  Horseback riding. So relaxing and rewarding to get away with my four-legged guy.

Cutest thing your kid has said recently: From my son, Ben —
Makayla walks up to me giggling while I attempt to rent my textbooks for the coming quarter. She smiles and lifts her tiny fist, taking care not to squish the contents. Maybe it’s a bug? She laughs and releases it into my face, “I farted and caught it!”

Funniest thing a new believer has said recently: From a new believer that feels like God is speaking to her about something to do with the name “John.” She sees that name everywhere. 🙂 “JOHN! It’s JOHN! There’s even a book in the Bible called JOHN! And look, there’s JOHN the Baptist. And, did you know Jesus had a disciple named JOHN?!” 


 

How did you decide where to plant your church? 

It really felt like God decided. I’d be driving along and realize that I’d been evaluating locations for a church and praying for the people God wanted to reach. It was bizarre. I was happy where I was ministering, yet these thoughts kept coming again and again.

What’s the biggest fear you overcame when planting a church?

How on earth do I tell this to my conservative, women-can’t-lead-in-church family? Yowsa. I was on a week-long road trip with my father-in-law and we had a bazillion conversations about women in church leadership. His views are firmly established. I was terrified to tell him that God was calling me to plant a church. In the end, it broke his heart that I let fear keep me from telling him first.

What’s one thing you wish you had known before planting?

I wish I would have known it’s ok to be me. It took a while to get into a rhythm because I was trying to do church like I’d seen it before. Things got on track when I realized God called me because He wanted what He had placed and grown in me to come out.

What has been the best experience of the first year?

People! I love that I get to talk and pray with so many people. That ties for first with this feeling of jumping into a river and just floating along where God’s leading. So many doors are opening up within our community that have seemed impossible to push through in the past. It’s crazy. We’ve got the city planner calling Rick and me into meetings to explore how the city can refer people to the faith community to minister to their needs. It’s crazy. He also heard about our vision to be woven into the community and he’s actually exploring how the city can promote our vision of weaving faith, family, and fun together.

Do you have a cool story of ministry or healing that you’d like to share?

Our coolest ministry time stories actually came from attending the women’s conference in Duluth. We’re still small. Everyone knows everyone. But, heading to Duluth and having the experience of total strangers prophesying over our women things that only God could have told validated the experience of prophecy within our setting. Before that, one of our ladies said she thought we were just speaking from what we knew in the natural. So cool.

What’s something you were told about church planting that you have found to be true?

 You better be 110% sure of your calling. You will be tested and tried like never before and the thing that keeps you moving forward is the fact that God has called you to do this.

What are one or two big things that you’ve learned along the way?

  1. Take advantage of the Vineyard’s offer of a Church Planting Coach. Don’t be shy about interviewing a couple of coaches until you find the right one. My coach has a way of helping me see what the Holy Spirit is doing. He also senses when I need to rest (HA!) and encourages me to take care of myself so that I have the strength to keep going.
  1. When you feel like you are agitated with people, it’s an indicator that you’re being bumped off-course. We’re all about loving people, so go spend time with God. Get filled up. Get loved on. Then go.

Is there a question we didn’t ask that you would love to answer?

What’s it like being female and the sole lead pastor of a church? It’s stinkin’ hard when I encounter other Christians who have a preconceived notion of who God calls to lead. It’s very freeing, though, in that from the start, I don’t fit the expectation. I can be who God calls me to be because there just isn’t a mold for me. It also drives me to go to those who don’t yet know Jesus, because they’re the ones who will receive the message of Christ from me the easiest. I’m a bit off-kilter, just like them. We’re supposed to go to those who don’t know Jesus, anyways.

How can we be praying for you?

It feels like we’re growing deep before growing wide. We’ve got four of us in VI, getting grounded in Vineyard theology and praxis. We just opened up a new space, Stompin’ Grounds. It’s our office & also a space that’s a hangout. Progress is slow-going. We’d love prayer for more laborers and for those we have to stay encouraged. They are all troupers, but it can be tiring having just a few doing so much.


How have you seen God use the unique way he created you to bring his Kingdom?

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Essentials For Preparing to Plant

After we had fasted and prayed through a time of discernment and got a green light from our senior pastor, God spoke