There’s so much to share with you after the summer break but I’ll try to keep it short and divide it into three of our priorities: Ministry; Equipping and Fellowship.
Whilst the Child Contact Centre continues to do amazing and crucial work (Elaine is looking to recruit a deputy manager) our current focus is on preparing for Vineyard House. We have seven “rocks” and last Sunday we were inspired as we were given a glimpse into what three of them might mean: Prayer Rock, Sunday Rock and Young Rock. We’ll be looking at the other rocks in the coming weeks. You can read and hear more about them or follow Phil's Blog on the STEPS 2017 page of the website.
As we explained on Sunday, we’ve made great progress toward our immediate goal of buying Vineyard House – but we’re not there yet. We’ve got a real test ahead of us, not least raising the rest of the money we need to buy the building. I think we should plan to raise at least another £100,000 (on top of the £280,000 already pledged).
Please play your part, however, small or large that may be. We would be grateful to receive your pledges by the 20 October. We don’t necessarily need the actual gift straightaway – probably nearer the end of the year. It maybe that you would like to make a gift next year or over several months. That too would help us to buy the building.
Most of all we need to pray. I shared one of my favourite scriptures on Sunday: Nehemiah 4:9, when faced with a great challenge their response was, “We prayed to our God and we posted a guard”. We do what needs to be done, give what needs to be given, but we also pray.
One of my deep desires is that Leeds Vineyard does really good theology! I’d love you to learn more about the bible and what we believe. To that end I’ve invited Daniel McGinnis to come and speak next Sunday. I think you’ll very much enjoy hearing him speak on “What Makes Good Theology”. If you’re a preacher or would like to teach or if you are just interested in theology, you’re invited to stay behind after service to chew it over (and some pizza) with Daniel. He will tell us about the Leeds School of Theology (which Daniel leads - their open day is 14 October) which runs January to November on Saturdays. If you would like to sign up for that we will be glad to subsidise some of the fees.
If you prefer to learn on-line I would recommend having a look at Vineyard Institute. This is being updated and improved continually and is great for being able to pick certain modules and study at home in your own time.
We also invest in equipping people in ministry skills, particularly if you would like to explore leadership in the church or in mission. One of our small groups is the Servant Leadership School run by Matt and Anne from September to June. At a national level we commend the Hub (in fact this is a prerequisite for church planting or employment on pastoral staff of a Vineyard church). Our Hub is hosted by Ian and Hannah at their home in Eccleshill, Bradford and the next entry is in January.
In November there will be two opportunities to learn about Coaching. Tom Camacho is the lead trainer for Coaching in Vineyard USA and he will be spending Monday evening 6 November with us (you can book here). He will also be running a full day “Intensive” (part of the Hub programme) in Birmingham on 11 November (you can book here).
Finally, Cause to Live For, a gathering for young adults from around the Vineyard, is on Friday/Saturday 17-18 November in Nottingham (book here).
It’s an unfashionable word, fellowship, but it’s shorthand for placing value on building relaxed, safe, relationships – becoming family as we spend time together and do life together and where Jesus is at the centre. We minister to one another, grow and change together. We know and are known.
Sundays are really important, in fact they are essential in our celebration of faith together, but we get to the heart of the church in the small groups. This is the strength of the church.
Sometimes people who live busy lives say to me that they simply have too much on to commit to a weekly/fortnightly small group. That rings warning bells to me – the busier you are, the harder you work, the more responsibilities you have – the more you need to be in a small group. It’s a bit like saying that you’ve got to drive down to London on the M1 and you haven’t got time to stop to fill the tank. The consequences are obvious! So, join a group (and if you’ve done the Exploring ones, please join a Growth Group (as well as an Activity group!).
I hope you have had a good summer and managed to catch some decent weather! Many of us had an outstanding time at Ashburnham and I have heard good things from others of you about holidays and conferences all over the place. It has been great to welcome many new people to the church (if you’re a regular please be on the lookout for people you don’t recognise and say hullo – it’s hard turning up at a new place when you don’t know people).
A couple of weekends ago Alison and I enjoyed praying for El and Ed as they got married in Sheffield (Rosie was one of her bridesmaids) and then we ministered at Sheffield Vineyard on the Sunday. We’re glad to report that it is a proper Vineyard! There was a real buzz there and the Holy Spirit is at work amongst them. We are reminded that we sent out Harrogate and Sheffield just over five years ago – how time flies!
So there’s lots happening. Leeds Vineyard is healthy and we have much to do (ministry & equipping) but it is important to be (fellowship & worship & prayer). Most of all though I would ask you to pray for the church and particularly for Vineyard House as we obey the Lord’s summons to “buy this precious pearl”.