Better Together by Mary McKellick

I love the local church. I love that being a part of a local church is a statement to myself and to others that I cannot live this journey alone. It’s a commitment to community, to growth, and to being a part of the whole where together we are better than we are on our own.

I don’t know about you, but it is relieving and challenging to me all in the same breath to commit myself to a journey with others. I think that we are wired to want to face the challenges and the joys of life together. That there is something in our makeup that desires the partnership of someone else and that by participating in that partnership our experience of life becomes instantly richer. I will gladly admit that I am not the most social person, yet at the same time I do love sharing the experience of life with others. I love waking up in the morning and knowing that whatever the day brings I have people who will walk through it with me.

At the same time, for all of the comfort and joy that life in community has brought me it has also carried with it its fair share of challenging moments. I have disagreed with my leaders and my friends. I have had challenging conversations that have lead to humbling apologizes. I have been annoyed and frustrated with others as I assume they have also been with me. I have wanted to hide myself in moments when life got too intense. However, being in community has prevented me from giving up, from stubbornly holding onto my weaknesses, and from hiding in my pain.

Like myself, HLI is committed to the local church for the support and the challenges in growth that it brings. Each HLI site is hosted by a Vineyard Church and it sits under the leadership and care of the church that houses it. In addition to that, each HLI site visits at least 10 Vineyard churches ranging in size, age, and demographic. We want our students to graduate our program with a love for the local church. We want them to see Vineyards that live out the vision and mission of our movement in ways that are contextualized for their communities. We want to challenge the idea that there is only one perfect way to ‘do church,’ and give them a broad and beautiful picture of what the body of Christ can look like.

We believe that not only are our personal lives better when lived in the community of our local church, but that our churches are better when they are living in the community of one another. We are better when we work together and each HLI site has worked to create a partnership with not only their hosting church, but with the churches and leaders in their regions and around the movement. We are committed to being better together.