Psalm 80:7-11
Vision Sunday

Join us as we share our vision for Yountville Community Church in 2022 and beyond.

Vision Sunday 2022
A Fruitful Vineyard Dan Bidwell, Senior Pastor

Psalm 80:7-11; Isaiah 27:2-6; John 15:5 3 April 2022

Last Sunday after church I took my family out for a coffee at Oakville Grocery. Afterwards we decided to take a walk down Oakville Crossroad through the vineyards. We were expecting rain, so the sky was filled with dramatic clouds and the wind was blowing through the olive trees. It was very beautiful! Perhaps most beautiful of all were the new leaves beginning to bud on the grape vines.

This time of year is bud break in the vineyards, a time when the vines begin their transformation from bare, brown branches into leafy, green vines that (by the end of summer) will be bejeweled with clusters of the deep blue fruit. Of course, that precious fruit becomes the Napa wines that make this valley so famous.

Bud break is the beginning of the season of growth.

Bud break is an apt image to keep in your mind as we think about the vision of Yountville Community Church today, because I truly believe we are at the beginning of the season of growth.

So why don’t we ask God to speak into our hearts now as we open the Bible, and as we explore God’s vision for our church. Will you pray with me?

Our heavenly Father, we know that you are in control of all things. We ask you to give us wisdom and guidance and insight as we plan for the future of your church here in Yountville. Teach us from your word as we seek you now. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen

I’m excited to have you all here for Vision Sunday. A number of years ago I heard a quote about vision that has stuck with me ever since. It goes like this:

Vision is a picture of the future that inspires passion.

Vision is all about imagining a future reality. Dreaming dreams about what might be. Painting a picture of the possible.

Vision Sunday is all about imagining the future reality of Yountville Community Church, so that we can dream that dream together, as we work to make it a reality.

Now I have big dreams for this church, and I suspect you do too. But as we dream those dreams, I want us to start by looking at God’s vision for the church, so that our dreams are shaped by what God’s word tells us.



The image that kept coming to mind as I thought about the future of our church is the picture of a vine. A grapevine. It’s very apt for the Napa Valley, right.

But this image of the grapevine comes straight from Scripture. Look at Psalm 80:8-11 with me.

8 You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.

9 You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land.

10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches.

11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River. (Psalm 80:8-11)

Psalm 80 paints a picture of a vine that is planted by God. It takes root and fills the whole land, reaching from the river to the sea. A luxurious vine that brings shade and refreshment wherever it grows.

In its original context, the vine represents God’s Old Testament people, Israel, whom God had brought out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. (The same land that God promised to give to Abraham’s offspring.)

The picture here is of God’s people filling the Promised Land and enjoying God’s blessing. It’s a picture of happiness, and goodness. It’s a picture of flourishing.

And I think this image of the vine teaches us three lessons us about God’s vision for the church.


The first lesson is right there in verse 8 – that it is God who plants the church. In v8, the Psalmist speaks directly to God:

8 You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.

9 You cleared the ground for it... (Psalm 80:8-9)

It is God who plants his people where he wants them to be. It is God who plants the church.

That doesn’t mean things are always easy. Just in these two verses, we’re reminded that God’s people lived in slavery in Egypt for 400 years before God brought them into the promised land.


And in the land, there were the ‘nations’ – people who were opposed to the establishment of the kingdom of God’s people.

But none of those problems were too hard for God. God is the one who cleared the ground and planted his people where he wanted them to be.

That’s an important lesson for us to remember, because actually we live in one of the most difficult places in America to plant a church. Out of the entire United States, the Bay Area has the highest number of people who don’t have any connection to God (we sometimes call them ‘unchurched’). The Bay Area also has the highest number of ‘dechurched’ – people who once had a faith connection but don’t anymore. They’ve left church (and God) behind, for whatever reason.

And it’s not just the Bay Area. Research shows patterns of declining attendance in churches all across America.

But none of that is an obstacle to God. He has planted churches all over this country, and all over the world, to be beacons of hope in a dark world. God has planted his people right where he wants us to be. And I think God has given us a special work to do, by planting us so close to the Bay Area, where there are so many people who need the hope of Jesus.

So that’s the first big idea today. It is God who plants his church, and so we can trust that he will continue the work that has been going on here for over 140 years.


The second big idea that this passage teaches is that the church has to have deep roots. Verse 9 says:

9 You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land. (Psalm 80:9)

Just a few months after I started working at Yountville Community Church, the world got turned upside down by COVID. And so I joined the trend of building an ISO vegetable patch, right here on the church grounds. My little garden was fantastic! And so I thought I would plant some grapevines along the back fence. When in Napa, right?

Sadly they didn’t do well. I probably didn’t prepare the soil well enough. The vines probably didn’t get enough sun. And 2020 was an extremely dry year, with a very hot summer. My vines grew about 3 leaves, and then they shriveled up and died. When I dug them up to do a postmortem, I could see that the roots never grew.


In Psalm 80, however, the vine takes root. It puts down deep roots in the place where it is planted, and the vine flourishes, and fills the land.

I want our church to be a church with deep roots.

Yountville Community Church already has deep roots in the Napa Valley, going back to 1874 when the Yountville congregation first started meeting. That congregation built this chapel in 1876, making Yountville Community Church one of the oldest churches in the Napa Valley.

So we have deep roots historically. But that doesn’t mean we can just coast along. If I’ve learned one thing living in wine country, it’s that it takes a lot of work to make vineyards thrive.

Our vision is that Yountville Community Church will be a church where people want to put down deep roots. A church where every person feels like they belong. A church where we feel connected, spiritually nourished, where we grow in faith, where we grow in community. The kind of church where you look forward to going, the kind of church where you want to spend more time. A church you call home.

I’m often amazed by what God has already done since we reopened the church building in August last year after renovations. It’s only been 8 months if my math is correct. In 8 months, God has brought so many of you to us, both here in the building and those watching online.

One of our main focuses over this last 8 months has been to create a Sunday church experience that helps us connect with God, and connect with one another. I’m so grateful to God for our Welcome Team, for the Coffee Team, for our Worship Team. God has answered our prayers in providing amazing musicians to lead us in worship – with Laura, and with our other band members who are home on Spring break (they’ll be back with us next week).

I’m also grateful for our Kids Minister Charlotte, and her team of leaders who make Yountville Kids so much fun every week. Whenever I tell people that we have a church in Yountville, they always say how hard it must be because there are no young families in town. I tell them they’re wrong – we have a thriving kids ministry here at Yountville Community Church, and it only seems to be growing.

One of our prayers is that the littlest members of our church will put down deep roots in faith during their time here, which is why Yountville Kids is so much more than child care. In both Nursery and Elementary, our leaders share the hope of Jesus with our kids in ways that are age- appropriate and really help kids experience the joy of knowing Jesus.

Our vision is to see the Kids program expanded, and we are praying for more families to join us, and for more leaders to enable that growth.

Something the Leadership Board is passionate about is creating the opportunity to share Jesus with Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers. Our vision is to see a youth program where


teenagers put down deep roots in faith at that pivotal stage of life. That is something we are praying about currently, and also working through from a budget perspective. We’d love your prayers as we seek to bring that vision to reality.

We’ve talked about our kids putting down deep roots in faith. But our vision is that every person who attends Yountville Community Church will have the opportunity to nurture their faith in community. We want everyone to put down deep roots in the Christian faith.

That might be in a Small Group where we dig deeper into the Bible. I’m so grateful for our Small Group leaders who lead those discussions week to week.

For those just starting on the Christian journey, we have our Alpha course. We are in the middle of an Alpha course right now with a group of young adults and it has been such a great time together, talking about life and faith and meaning. If you haven’t done Alpha, we’ll be running another course right after Easter. You should sign up!

As the year goes on, we’ll be announcing more opportunities for nurturing our faith in community: a conference for women; a book club; a film study and more.

But I hope you can see our focus – creating opportunities for every person who attends Yountville Community Church to put down deep roots in the Christian faith.


So the first aspect of our vision is a church that is ‘rooted’; the second aspect of our vision is a church that is ‘reaching’.

Look at Psalm 80:10-11 with me:

10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches.

11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River.

The picture here is of the vine filling the land, from east to west – from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. Remember this is a picture of God’s chosen people filling the promised land, and enjoying the inheritance God had promised to Abraham.

But there’s another detail in the poetry, another symbol in v10. The image of the vine is super- sized. The branches reach from east to west, and its leaves provide shade over the mountains, they even cover the mighty cedars.

Cedars often symbolize strength in the Old Testament. And so I think you see here that God’s people grow to a position where they are stronger than the world’s powers. The image of shade


usually symbolizes protection and comfort. So in this image, the Psalmist paints a picture of God’s people filling the land, bringing peace and protection and comfort to all who live in the land.

And if we think back to God’s promises to Abraham, that was the third promise, wasn’t it? That God would bring blessing to the whole world through Abraham’s offspring.

This picture shows us that God intends the church to be an agent of blessing to all the world. The church isn’t focused in on itself: it reaches out with the hope of Jesus.

Over the last year or so, part of our reaching out has been using a marketing company to make sure people can find us on the internet. They do a great job, by the way! One of the ad campaigns they run for us each month is called Real Life. When people are searching for answers on the internet about stress, or anxiety, or financial worries, or marriage issues, or parenting questions, they often click on one of our ads. And it sends them to some excellent, Biblical, helpful articles linked to our website. We are seeing thousands of people click on those advertisements each month. It shows you that people are searching for answers, and they are open to hearing the Christian point of view.

This is one of the ways that Yountville Community Church is reaching out with the hope of Jesus into our online community. But I’d love to see us create the same opportunities here in the Napa Valley. Psychologists predict an epidemic of mental health issues on the back of COVID, and we would love to be able to connect people from our local community with good online resources, as well as links to local counselors and psychologists. When people come to us for help, we want to be able to connect them to the help they need.

The same for the economically vulnerable in our community. We would like to be a church that contributes to local charities who are set up to provide appropriate care and resources.

I am really excited that we are taking little steps in Yountville Kids to create connections with the Veterans Home. This Easter, thanks to the passion of some of our moms, Yountville Kids will be delivering 20 Hope Packages to the Vets Home. In fact, the kids are writing cards today as part of their lesson, and they’ll add them to boxes with crossword puzzles, tissues, coloring in booklets. Something to brighten the day of the residents. That little gesture has the potential to become a regular pastoral opportunity in the Vets Home...

So you can see we have a vision to be a blessing to our local community in practical ways.

But we also know that the greatest blessing is to find life in Jesus Christ. And so we will always be looking for ways to reach out with the hope of Jesus. That’s why we’re running an ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram this Easter, because we want to meet local families so that we can share Jesus with them. I make no excuses for that. It’s why we’re advertising our Easter services in the local newspapers, and dropping off invitations at all the hotels. It's why we’ve printed extra invitations for you to share with your friends.


Because the heart of this church’s mission to share the hope of Jesus in the Napa Valley and beyond. We are a church with a missionary heart, a missionary mindset, a missionary church, reaching out into the Napa Valley with the message of hope, and life, and blessing through Jesus Christ.

I love the image from Psalm 80, the image of the vineyard stretching out through all the land. I’m reminded of it every time I drive anywhere in the Napa Valley. We have vineyards as far as the eye can see. It’s an image of what this church could be – a church that influences the landscape, a church that influences the culture, a church that brings blessing, a church that bears fruit for all eternity.

Don’t you want to be part of that church?

As I said at the beginning, I think we’re only just at the beginning of this journey. The buds are only just beginning to break, but that means the growing season is beginning. But one day, God’s kingdom will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit. And on that day, we’ll know what a special thing we’ve been a part of here.

Will you pray with me?

Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)