If you have been around here for a while, you may have heard us reference Crestwood Vineyard as “Crestwood the Beautiful.”  There is a story behind this.

The third week of April, 2013, a week after God spoke to me about planting this church, AT Hardgrave walked me through our present church building.  (AT was pastoring the former Baptist church, (then called “Transformation House”) that owned the building.  At the time of our walk through, I had no idea that this facility would serve as the birthplace and home base for Crestwood Vineyard Church.)   As we were walking through this facility, AT told me that there are some old postcards of this building that referenced it as “Crestwood the Beautiful.”  The building was in extreme disrepair and in desperate need for renovation.   

I relayed my conversation with AT to my wife, Dianna and she responded, “Wouldn’t it be great if it was called “Crestwood the Beautiful” again.  Later that week, I bordered a plane for the Ukraine to help lead a pastor’s retreat.

While in Ukraine, I spent an afternoon praying about what kind of church God wanted us to plant.  Isaiah 61 came to mind.  The first few verses, I was very familiar with, it was what I found in the rest of the chapter that gave me insight into what God was intending to do with us.

I will write out the chapter in full but I will bullet point parts insights I believe God showed me about the church he was calling us to plant.

Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,

  • These verses are foundational to the ministry of Jesus (Luke 4) and to the Vineyard movement. It was no surprise to me that God would call us to this.  It was simply confirmation to do what many of us have been doing for most of our adult lives. Learn more: From the Sanctuary to the Streets
  • This was also a call to rediscover and reemphasize the original DNA of the Vineyard movement. Learn more: Doing Church

to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

  • Reading these verses, God began speaking to me about the Crestwood building. When I read “crown of beauty instead of ashes” I believe God said, “This place will be called Crestwood the Beautiful again!” It was not so much about this building; it would be about the ministry that was to flow from this place.  I was surprised at the revelation that God was actually invested in the Crestwood building and he was intending for us to associate ourselves to this facility and the community surrounding the building. (That is why we adopted the name “Crestwood Vineyard Church.”)
  • Along with that came an overwhelming empathy for the generations of Baptist that served in this facility. People who had poured their time, resources and prayers into the ministries associated with this building.  God was intending to make this  “Crestwood the Beautiful” again. 

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

  • God was planting us here in this community. An oak puts down deep roots.
  • (“…for the display of his splendor” – It was not until a few years later that I would understand the significance of the phrase “putting Jesus on display” and how it ties into the calling of this church.) Learn more: PuttingJesusOnDisplay.com

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

  • The Holy Spirit indicated we were to be rooted in an urban community and invest in restoration of this local community. God will bring the people we needed to continue his mission in this community and beyond. 

And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

“…you will be priests of the Lord” – that means all of us, not just a few gifted individuals. “Everyone gets to play!”

  • When reading the words about inheritance. I understood it at the time as inheriting the prayers and intercession of the previous congregations. I believed that if we honored the history of those who went before us, there would be a spiritual inheritance for us. I had no clue that it also meant inheriting the actual building three months after we started our first worship service. Watch: Crestwood Baptist Tribute Video
  • “Inheritance” also implies a connection to the past, this is why I believed it to be so important to honor those who went before us and rather than adopt an attitude of “we are doing something new”, we were to adopt an attitude that we are building on the faithfulness and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples.  All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

  • “Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples” – our influence will go beyond our immediate community, God will use us to impact nations. We are called both to this neighborhood and to the nations. Watch: An Equipped Church video 

Isaiah 61 defines for us our mission and our mission field.