Rather than listing out my ministry experience via resume style I decided to write it out in more of a conversational format. What follows is some background information on me starting with my childhood experience with God going through my adult ministry involvement up to the present:
If growing up very poor, and in a small rural Minnesota town wasn’t isolating enough, then having a large port-wine stain birthmark on my face was. Additionally, I was nerdy, socially awkward, and book-smart in grade school. All of those factors together made for a perfect recipe that led to social isolation and loneliness. Elementary school was tough: constantly being teased for my birthmark, teased for having thrift store/garage sale clothes, teased for being unathletic and small, stressed at home with comstant fears of being out on the street due to lack of parental employment, severe dysfunctional family dynamics, physically and verbally bullied as school, and so on. There were many days I cried at school and/or came home in a mess of tears. And the arguements that we had at home were intense and seemed as dramatic as life or death for a little gradeschooler. In recent years a counselor I worked with helped me gain insight into those experiences. Even though I hadn’t identified with the term in the past I now find it easy to describe my childhood as one that was littered with trauma. Thankfully, I did have a place where I found a sense of peace and belonging – our church.
We were members of an ultra-conservative Christian church. The church prided itself as having the one true Christian way. It boisterously proclaimed that only our obedience, through strict observance to God’s law and exemplary moral behavior, made us acceptable in God’s sight. No one outside of our church was included in God’s future Kingdom, unless they chose otherwise after they received a second chance during the final Resurrection. I didn’t know how outside orthodox our church was until I got older. But as I kid I found their worldview comforting at the time. It made me feel unique and reinforced the ide that much of the pain and suffering I was going through was due to the fact I was special and holy in God’s eyes and the world didn’t like it.
Church was a magical time. I grew up learning all the Old Testament stories, memorized scripture verses, sang in choir, took my own sermon notes, and felt the call to serve God on my life from an early age. The church was everything to me. It was the place where I found acceptance, family, purpose, hope, and the medium by how I interpreted the world. As I child I had an unwavering faith in the existence of a God and no doubt in His love for me. However, I couldn’t find the power, or any motivation, to live out the holy and separated lifestyle that my church demanded. A lifestyle that would result in having a right standing with God. The message of Jesus, and His grace through faith, was absent from this church. Relationship with God was taught and modeled to me as being confident to approach Him based upon how well I have performed both in my moral personal conduct and observance of His eternal Law.
As I documented in my 3-part blog post series, “Growing Up in the WorldWide Church of God”, when I was 13-14 my church went through a doctrinal split. The new leaders abandoned its former works-based and cult-ish beliefs and converted into a typical evangelical church. My parents followed the changes that the leaders presented and resultantly began preaching the good news of Jesus to me. But in some ways it was too late. The isolation and loneliness I had experienced with my birthmark, and the teasing, and the family dysfunction including much financial stress, took its toll. Combined with my own belief that I can always repent and turn back to God, I could not withstand the allure of the world. I wanted to live for myself and gratify myself in the same ways I saw everyone else doing. I joined the rest of the other social outcasts in school and found acceptance and fun with them. We inclined ourselves to cigarettes, drugs, sex, alcohol, and petty local crime. All the while I still knew God was real, loved me, and would welcome me back if I just stopped in my own power and started living right. But, I wanted to first experience the world and enjoy the good feelings and fun that it brought before I would finally give me life fully over to God.
My parents never gave up. Always praying and encouraging me to come out of that lifestyle. Looking back from my parent’s eye now, it’s agonizing in feeling the pain as I think of what I must have put my mother through during my teens. But, in the middle of my sixteenth year on earth, after wearing my parents’ knees out in prayer, I put my faith in “Jesus”. But it was a Jesus who I barely knew anything about and sadly had little relationship with. However, lifestyle change did occur. I gave up many of my lifestyle woes, focused on my musical aspirations, and headed out to college in 1998.
In college I was steadfast in my faith, but music was my only real focus. I didn’t get involved with any campus ministries, or chose align myself with a church, but took my guitar, locked myself into a practice room and, and practiced, practiced, practiced.
During my 3rd year, on one of my many trips home on college weekends, I picked up a teaching cassette tape about water baptism that my mother had left out for me on the kitchen counter top. My parents had been pushing me to get baptized, to sort of seal the deal on my faith, for a few years now. I put the tape in my car and started the 2-hour drive back to college. The tape, by Don Kow, described the purpose behind water baptism and most importantly the difference between what the Bible calls the baptism of the Spirit, and water baptism. As I was driving across the I-94 bridge near Hudson Wisconsin I felt a strange sensation come upon me. Something that I would describe as a combination of euphoria, enlightenment, rest, and joy. From that day on I became a new man and my life has never been the same.
This experience compelled me to immerse myself in my faith by listening to more and more of these tapes, fervent prayer, and intense personal bible study. The tapes came from Andrew Womack Ministries and I couldn’t get enough of them. I was reintroduced to topics such as: grace, faith, healing, the Holy Spirit, sovereignty, the nature of God, authority of the believer, spiritual gifts, repentance – all were doctrines I have heard teaching on before but nothing had captured my heart as these tapes did, and all from a different angle. I went through a multitude of spiritual battles in that 3rd year of college but the work that God begun in me was unquenchable. A fire had been lit and nothing could put it out.
Shortly after this time, while ministering music room to room in a nursing home, I met my future wife and we were married a year later. After graduating with a Bachelors of Music Composition from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire I perused a career in traditional music ministry and accepted an invitation to take on the Minister of Music position at First Baptist Church in Gettysburg, PA. I had a great time working with the kids choir, cantatas, worship team, conducting hymns, hand bells, as well as challenging the other staff members with my own doctrinal slant. It was fun being a closet charismatic in a traditional Baptist church. It made staff meetings interesting! And to God’s credit we experienced much unity.
After two years I hung my music carrer on the shelf and we moved to Colorado Springs, CO to attend Charis Bible College. We finished a two year program and stayed on for a third year to apprentice with long time faculty member amd new friend Don Krow. All the while I felt I was being led to go into traditional ministry as a traveling teaching minister. But after a revelatory classroom experience, following our mission trip to Columbia S.A., I was turned on to the concept of radical house church. It completely upended my concept of ministry organization and I was never the same. I would be an organic house church and marketplace ministry proponent from then on out.
During Bible college also I met up with Jim and Lynn McHood of Awaken Ministries (formally Kingdom Transition Ministries). He offered me a position in his professional recruiting company as a part-time payroll administrator. That job turned into a full-time position and functioned more as an 8 ½ year apprenticeship in marketplace ministry. In addition to handling all of the accounting, HR, and benefit administration for this company (with international clients as Intel, Texas Instruments, General Dynamics, Qualcomm, etc.,) I was on the board for Kingdom Transitions Ministries where I successfully wrote our 501(c)(3) application and oversaw the financial aspects of our growing multi-national organization.
In April 2007 we moved back to Minnesota continuing to work for Jim’s marketplace ministry business venture and serving in Kingdom Transitions Ministries. Prior to our move we were introduced to Susan Stacy who was at the time the director of a faith based prison program (Interchange Freedom Initiative through Prison Fellowship) at the woman’s correctional facility in Shakopee, MN. We quickly joined up with her and volunteered in the woman’s prison for 3 years conducting interactive weekly bible studies, preaching, teaching, and occasional music ministry. During the same period I designed, implemented, and taught a weekly basic computer skills course for ex-offenders in connection in North Minneapolis with FreedomWorks – which at the time functioned more like a half-way house for those coming out of the same Prison Fellowship program that we were aligned with.
Having substituted both marketplace ministry and radical house church for what is usually a traditional ministry vocation, I reentered the Twin Cities music community with the goal to fully transition into performing music as my primary occupation…the apostle Paul made tents to support his ministry, and I would perform music. I spent seven years playing in various bands and private solo performances until I made the big leap into performing under my own name (www.vinnierose.com). Since 2014 my music has been able to support my family as well as my ministry endeavors.
Currently I stay active by golfing and spending time in nature with my wife and daughter. I love reading theology and writing/sharing my thoughts with others. I have a robust community of local believers that I am in house church community with and also run a bi-weekly Sunday church service for an assisted living community a few miles by my house. My long term ministry goals are to challenge, strengthen, and encourage people around the world to look at God differently than how He has been traditionally viewed, and to help be a resource for those who feel they want to explore radical house church.