Why Jesus Would Go to Vegas if He Came to America

Vince Antonucci says Vegas is the place Jesus would go if he came to America.

If you’re looking for a great example of how to love people outside the church and what it means to be mission oriented, you need to meet Vince Antonucci, pastor of Verve in Las Vegas. Their tagline is “Stripping Church. Seeking Life.” These guys have an amazingly clear of how to love people who hate the church!

The title of this blog was almost Vince and Jesus love strippers, pimps, and Nazis because I keep hearing stories about how Verve is overwhelming people with God’s love for them. Not just lost people, but people Christians typically write-off as unreachable or far too intimidating – like say…Nazis.

redemption enacted
One story of redemption that impacts me poignantly is the story of Warren. Warren plays an evil, fire-breathing clown – literally. He is someone who hates God and anyone associated with church. Warren came into contact with Verve because he heard about a new church starting up, and was determined to sabotage it. Vince tells the story so powerfully, as he lays out Warren’s plan to disrupt the services by spewing profanity and violence throughout it.

When Warren showed up, though, what he found going on there in the music, the speaking and the ambiance was so surprising, that he was distracted into hearing the message. Verve is living out their core value of Irreverence TO Reverence with clarity so powerful that it captivated Warren immediately. They state the value as We do anything outside of sin to uncross the arms of unbelieving people to lead them to the cross so Jesus can remove their sin. The service reached an end, and Warren snapped out of his amazement thinking, “*$%@!, its over. I didn’t get around to wrecking it!”

Showing up again the next week, he sent Vince an email saying the service was strangely addictive. But he expressed quite clearly that he HATED Vince and everyone at the church. It wasn’t long before he was driving 45 minutes to come to all three services. After one of them Vince saw him and commented that surely Warren had figured out by now that all three services are identical. Warren’s reply shocked me…

“Man, I know…I just can’t get enough of Jesus.”

Wow! What a powerful and convicting statement from someone who had not even given their life to Christ yet. I want to sincerely say that with as much desperation as Warren. A man who was dedicated to hating God and destroying His church is so thirsty for Jesus that he can’t get enough. Vince and Verve are living out the unique identity and mission God has planted in them with such compelling clarity that they showcase the irresistible grace and beauty of Jesus.

measures of success
I love how they creatively and succinctly express the essence of how they measure success in their church. Let these sink in a little:

God Stalkers
1. Intimacy with God: How have I passionately pursued meaningful time with God?
2. Identity in Christ: How have I allowed God to love me just the way I am, and how have I allowed Him to show me where He loves me too much to leave me that way?
3. Obedience to the Holy Spirit’s direction: How have I been inviting God into all my decisions?

Grace Wholesalers
1. Intimacy with Others: How have I passionately pursued deeper relationships with those closest to me?
2. Authentic Relationships: Have I allowed God and a few friends to see and deal with my hurts and hang-ups this week?
3. Evangelism: Who have I invited to church this week?

Guerrilla Lovers
1. Influence for God: How have I passionately pursued opportunities to ambush a few people with God’s love?
2. Contribution: How have I allowed God to show me where I can generously invest my time, talent, and treasure into His Kingdom?
3. Multiplication: Who am I inviting to serve with me?

What is going on at Verve is a powerful expression of how God’s clear vision and focus expands influence and effectiveness. I encourage you to check out more of what’s going on, and hear the outrageous stories of God’s impact in people’s lives. You can find Verve on the web here.

You can see more of Warren’s amazing story of transformation on YouTube here

What is the unique identity in your church just waiting to be unleashed?

Read more from Tony here.


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Tony Bowick

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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