Josh Williams is the Associate National Director for Evangelism and Justice. Josh grew up in Iowa, with strong family ties to Indianapolis, IN.
In 2004, he headed to the East Coast to study at Yale University in New Haven, CT where he majored in American Studies and Ethnicity, Race and Migration. During his time in undergrad, he was involved in connecting his faith to justice issues on the campus and in the city. That integration continued as he went to Divinity School and got plugged into Elm City Vineyard (ECV), then an eight-month-old church plant in the heart of the city.
During his time at grad school and in the first years of ECV, Josh started several evangelistic prayer groups on Yale’s campus, established an outdoor church for the housed and unhoused, and launched an incarnational inner-city neighborhood ministry that included a sidewalk Sunday school where many kids (now twenty somethings) made first-time commitments for Jesus. Josh saw the connection between the Vineyard’s emphasis of John 5:19 and L-shaped listening and wanted to apply not only in the sanctuary, but also to the streets of his city. As a result, he saw gang members and university students alike follow Jesus for the first time. Right before he graduated with an M.Div in 2011, Josh was ordained as a pastor in the Vineyard. Weeks later, he happily married his wife, Tina (ECV’s Worship Pastor and a regular presence in Vineyard Worship recording projects), in a very musical service followed by a reception with much dancing. In 2014, Josh became ECV’s first full-time Lead Pastor, and he has enjoyed seeing Jesus grow the church in multi-ethnicity, justice, evangelism, spiritual formation, and Holy Spirit ministry over the last seven years. ECV is a sending church, and it has sent out several missionaries (Taiwan, the Middle East, Uganda, and more), one church plant (Princeton, NJ), and countless leaders over its fourteen years.
In the Vineyard, Josh has served as an Area Leader and an Executive Team member since 2017. He has also been on the Vineyard Ethnic Diversity task force since 2019. One of Josh’s favorite Vineyard memories is helping to lead a Diverse Leaders Gathering in 2019 for leaders of color to connect with one another, be refreshed, and be inspired by God’s Spirit to thrive, not just survive in our movement.
Josh and Tina recently celebrated ten years of marriage and are also parents of two adorable little ones, Zoe (3) and Joy (1). Their favorite family activities are going to waterfalls and beaches in Connecticut, eating ice cream, and singing loudly together.
I’m excited about the Vineyard following the Spirit to new levels of risk and courage. Where it was once risky to sing intimate worship to Jesus and pray for physical healing in our churches, our obedience has now made that commonplace — not only in the Vineyard, but in the world. What is risky right now that God wants to make commonplace in twenty years? I believe part of that risk and courage is bringing the work of the Spirit to our local contexts. Where our towns and cities struggle with addiction, violence, and loneliness, can the Vineyard bring freedom, peace, and community long before anyone darkens the doors of our church? Let’s find out together!
My dream for Vineyard churches is for each local congregation to understand that justice and evangelism go hand in hand. Evangelism is God’s desire for right relationship with the human heart. Justice is God’s desire for right relationship throughout the world. During the abolitionist movement in the 19th century, the “altar call” was designed to give people a way to respond to Jesus and to join the movement to abolish slavery no matter the cost. My dream for the Vineyard is to discover the 21st century “altar call”, new tools and practices that reconcile us to God and to one another.
I envision the role of Associate National Director of Evangelism and Justice giving people practical faith and hope that the Church of the 21st century can call anyone to the good news of Jesus while sharing a good word and good works that cut through the injustices of our day. My hope is that as crises – big and small – happen in our local contexts we find ourselves not trying to merely survive but instead partner with the Holy Spirit to see how God is already coming close to the brokenhearted with practical and spiritual help that makes all the difference.