After my wife Beth and I retired from the military, we spent a lot of time in prayer about God’s will for us. We came to Chesaw, WA thinking we were fully retiring, but after living there for a couple of years, we grew to realize there were a lot of people who weren’t being reached by the existing church in town. Beth would talk about how more people in the area could be reached by a new church, but I resisted the idea that we might be the ones to help provide it.
We wanted to be a vibrant part of the community. We prayed that we would be positive examples of Christ to our friends and neighbors.
Engaging in Our Community
Even before we recognized the call to plant a church, we sensed a leading to be involved in our little community. From joining local clubs and helping sell snow-cones during the Chesaw Fourth of July Rodeo to starting a prayer group, we wanted to be a vibrant part of the community. We prayed that we would be positive examples of Christ to our friends and neighbors.
As we did this, I began to recognize that God was calling us to be trained to plant a church. We had prayed for his will for years, and now it was time to be obedient and answer his call.
Joining the Vineyard Movement
We knew we didn’t want to be an independent church. We wanted to be part of something bigger with the resources and accountability that comes with it. The year leading up to planting, it seemed like every book we read led us towards the Vineyard. We heard about John Wimber and read his book Power Evangelism and became interested in the movement.
I had never experienced God’s presence like that before. God didn’t just shine a light on the path, he shined a spotlight.
We found the closest Vineyard church in Colville, WA, which is a two and a half hour drive from us. We prayed, “Lord, light the the path you want us to follow, whether it is through the Vineyard or elsewhere.” We met with the founding pastor and came back to worship on Sunday. From the second line of the first song, I found myself sobbing because I had never experienced God’s presence like that before. God didn’t just shine a light on the path, he shined a spotlight.
I soon enrolled in Vineyard Institute and we started seeking opportunities to immerse ourselves in Vineyard culture, values, and doctrine. We attended a Vineyard Worship Leader’s Retreat and a church planting intensive. Whenever we were traveling, we always looked for a Vineyard church to attend. We committed to going to the Vineyard in Colville at least once a month, only to realize that wasn’t often enough and eventually decided to go all in and attend every week.
Now we’ve planted the Highlands Vineyard Church and have just completed remodeling our meeting space, which we call The Upper Room. We recently held an open house to invite people in the area to see our little church and had more than 50 people attend.
We continue to seek ways to be involved in our community. For example, one couple who attends our church asked if they could use the church to hold free community art classes. These classes have been a lot of fun and bring people into our building who otherwise would likely not enter a church.
Learning God’s will, obedience to it, and preparation and immersion in the Vineyard community have been the guideposts for us along the way toward planting the Highlands Vineyard Church. Our biggest prayer request right now is for the Lord to lead us to more of those friends and neighbors that he wants to be a part of our community.
Mike and Beth Bricker retired from the military and moved to Chesaw, WA looking forward to enjoying retirement only to discover that God had other plans. Those plans included planting Highlands Vineyard Church in Chesaw, “1 ½ miles from the Canadian Border and 63 miles from the nearest stop light”. Mike completed an Advanced Biblical Leadership Certificate from Vineyard Institute and Highlands Vineyard Church began meeting on Sundays in February of 2017.