What if we don’t get enough money?
This entirely depends on how much the shortfall is. There will be delays to our timetable because we will be restricted in the funding sources we can approach. Some of the money will be used to cover running costs in the first few years so we would need to call on church funds if there aren't enough in the Vineyard House "pot".

What if more than we need is given and pledged?
We would be able to instruct contractors to begin some work sooner than currently planned and we would be able to approach funders with more confidence. We would also be able to do more and better renovations.

What if a disaster happened which prevented us doing this project?
There is always the possibility the project could be delayed, in which case we would persevere. However, if it became either impossible to proceed or perhaps due to some major unforeseen circumstance no longer sensible to proceed, then the money in the “STEPS fund” at that point would be saved until another suitable project arose.

Who will know what I’m giving?
Our finance team (Adrian Howe & Anne Button) will be responsible for counting and processing gifts and keeping records.
David & Alison will know the total amount of money that has been given but will not know who has given. Names will be redacted from the financial documents everyone sees. When it comes to STEPS giving we feel that it protects the pastoral relationship to keep the amount confidential. This is between you and the Lord, and we do not want anyone to feel under pressure from us. 

We are just a church – does anyone here actually know what they are doing?
Good question and fortunately the answer is, “yes”. The Lord has brought a number of people to us who are experts in business and property. We have chartered surveyors, project managers, chartered accountants, specialist architects, financial advisers and a property lawyer. Although we rely on God for wisdom and guidance – especially for the times when we need to take steps of faith – we can be sure he has provided good people to help us make wise decisions.

Being a church has enabled us to negotiate very competitive fees with the professionals with whom we need to work and yet we are being taken seriously because of our team and their connections.

We have two project managers:
1. Sam Lewis (who attends Mosaic Church) is an experienced project manager for buying and renovating buildings. He oversees the building work, liaising with the architects and planners.
2. Cath Storey is an expert Fund Raising Consultant (she also works with Kidz Klub). She oversees our fund-raising.

The Board of Trustees oversee the whole project and make use of expertise both within the church and by appointment of professionals as required.

Our Business Manager, Adrian Howe, has secular and church experience in this sort of project. Anne Button oversaw the first major STEPS campaign. The trustees all have high level business and project management experience.

Why are we giving away 10%?
As we have done in the past, we will give away 10% of whatever we receive. One basic principle of handling money is to give away the "first slice of the pie", to honour God's generosity and goodness to us by giving back to Him the first and best portion. This applies to STEPS too - the church should not just receive from others' generosity but be generous itself too. So, once we know what the pledges amount to we will give everyone an opportunity to help us decide how to give 10% of the total away. 

We usually give to charities and ministries which work with children, young people and families and which are not directly part of Leeds Vineyard. An important result of doing this is that it will keep our focus on generosity and ministry, not on buildings.

We also do this for our regular giving too, not just STEPS. Giving for everyone starts with an acknowledgement that everything we have has come from God in the first place. So if the church receives gifts we honour God by “tithing” 10% of that away to causes outside the Leeds Vineyard. Handling money is a spiritual matter and there is something about honouring God with giving that releases us to receive so much more than if we try and keep as much as we can.   

Can I change my pledge?
Yes. If for any reason you wish to alter your pledge (for example, you have an unexpected change to your financial situation) then you can increase or decrease your commitment. We just ask that you inform us in writing or by emailing giving@leedsvineyard.org  and give us as much warning as possible so that we can adjust our expectations!

What if I’m reading this after the 9 June 2019?
The 9 June marks the date when we can give thanks for what the people of the Vineyard have chosen to give. However, we want everyone who would like to participate to feel very much a part of our on-going journey, by contributing to all that the Lord has called us to as a church. So please feel free to join in.

What is so good about this building?
There are several features which make Vineyard House an outstanding opportunity:

  1. Location. Although not on the main road, the building is on a thoroughfare across the centre of Headingley. It is the mid-point of the old triangle that makes up the heart of Headingley (since pre-Doomsday records!) between St Michael’s Church, Headingley Methodist Church and where South Parade Baptist Church now stands;
  2. Size. This building is one of the largest standalone buildings in Headingley with approximately 647 sq metres (4,762 sq feet) of useable space;
  3. History. Vineyard House was originally built for community use (much as we would use it) and fulfilled that function for some 100 years before being converted to business use;
  4. Alternatives. If we want to win Headingley for the kingdom and become great neighbours in this community we will need property in the middle of Headingley. We’ve looked and looked and there really is very little around. But in fact it is hard to imagine anything better than Vineyard House – it really is something of a miracle that the Lord has brought this to us;
  5. As a Grade II listed building it encapsulates a lot of Headingley history. Many local people have memories associated with the building and are looking forward to seeing it put back into good use. The planning and heritage authorities are also delighted at our plans.

What are the main problems with Vineyard House?

  1. Car parking. As with the rest of Headingley, car-parking is in short supply. Our plan would be to have a strategy which encouraged the use of public transport and develop ministries for those within walking distance;
  2. Renovations: This is a plus and a minus. On the one hand we want to be able to adapt the building to accommodate our vision. On the other hand we don’t want to have to spend lots of money on a wreck. As it happens the building is in generally good condition and whilst it will cost a great deal of money to re-configure it for meaningful use, there are few critical problems - at least so far!
  3. Age. It is an old building (1884) and was not built with the internet age in mind nor with ecological forethought! Nevertheless, it is eminently adaptable.

Is the site safe?
The building is in a mixed residential and light commercial area with lots of footfall. It will be no more or less safe than Headingley Methodist Church or the Heart Centre nearby. As much as we are permitted by planning regulations it will be well lit and secure.

Why now? Why the hurry? Why don’t we wait?
When the Lord prompts you to do something, by and large a good rule of thumb is to get on with it. We can rely on him to hold us back if we are rushing. We have actually held back and made cautious progress, step by step. Now that we own the building we will be incurring costs month by month so it makes sense to get it into working order as soon as possible.

In practical terms we are also very limited by space – both in our office and storage and also in our capacity on Sunday mornings. The church will not be able to grow if we can’t find space to let our activities and children and young people find space, a better home.

Will time or space be allocated to certain groups or people?
There will be an order of use: starting with those activities which are fulfilling our core priorities. People from the Vineyard may also be able to make sue of the Rooms for their own ministry-orientated purposes and the local community will also be able to apply to use the facilities. We plan for the building to be used a great deal and for as much of the day and night as possible.

What if we outgrow it?
That would be great. We anticipate that the building will eventually be “full” and we may need to buy/develop other property (if the Lord helps us find something again). We can’t anticipate ever selling this building. Our vision is for Leeds Vineyard to make full and vibrant use of both Headingley Methodist Church and Vineyard House for the foreseeable future and to see God at work in both places.

When can we start using it?
We have started using the building in a limited way - for Prayer meetings, some small groups and for offices. Other activities and plans will need to wait until the renovations are complete.

What will it cost?
This depends upon what we decide to do and the quality we aim for. A minimum of £600,000 or up to 3 X that amount.

Where does the money for this project come from?

  1. This is primarily a Leeds Vineyard project so the purchase deposit £315,000 was provided by the congregation. 
  2. We have a mortgage with Stewardship for £315,000.
  3. We are now raising funds to "prime the pump" for further funding to pay for renovations.
  4. Then we will apply for funding from philanthropic organisations and grant-making charities.
  5. Then we will consider Social Impact investment. 
  6. Then we will probably launch a Crowd-funding appeal to finish off the fund raising.

That is rather a lot isn’t it?
Yes, it will be a challenge. In fact, without God’s help, it won’t be possible. That’s good because we do need to know that this project is His plan for us. However, we also have to be careful and wise. Proverbs 19:20 says, "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise." And Proverbs 20:18 says, "Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance."
So we have taken advice all along the way.

And we are encouraged by fellow pastors in Leeds to be ambitious for what God may do through us to grow the church in Headingley. We are inspired by what Bridge Community Church, Gateway, Life Church and Emmanuel Baptist have all done in recent times to make big property commitments into Leeds – with awesome results.

Our trustees, all who have significant experience in business have said that whilst definitely being a really big step of faith, this is not reckless financial management and presents a realistic opportunity.

What will this take from me?
It will probably mean a sacrificial gift from you. It is certainly the biggest financial risk that the church has taken and carries with it a chance of failure too.
But, when the Lord calls us to something the bible says in Hebrews 10:38, "My righteous one will live by faith. If he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."
We seem to have a God-given and inspired opportunity to take a major step forward in the journey of the Leeds Vineyard. We should walk forward with Him and play our part in his plan both prayerfully and willing to take a step of faith.

How do I work out how much to give?
Someone said, Nothing great was ever achieved by people giving what they could afford. And there is a lot of truth in that. We believe that we are approaching a time when God wants us to grow in the way we follow Jesus. In taking these steps of obedience we can expect to see Him teach us amazing things.

If we believe that what He has called us to give is His idea, then we can also believe that He is able to get the money together if we respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

This is not an ordinary budgeting exercise. Rather than try and work out how much you can give from your cash flow or savings; go before the Lord and ask Him how much He wants you to give.
As they say, "Aim to give what’s right, not what’s left." Often when we do this sort of thing, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to us, a thought, or in this case, an amount of money jumps to mind. That may be what He is asking you to give or it may just be what you are comfortable giving. Keep praying and seeking God until you are convinced that the amount you’ve decided on is also the amount He’s asking of you.
It may well be that this amount is way more than you can imagine being able to afford. That would be great because it means that you are trusting God to provide for your needs in an extra-ordinary way. And He will.

Some will delve into their savings or sell their investments. Others may use an inheritance or sell their second car or second home. Some may forego a foreign holiday or commit to giving sacrificially each month for the next few years. It’s between you and the Lord.

What is expected of me?
We don’t have any expectations of what you should give. Yes there will be sacrifices but there should also be freedom and joy. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each person should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

Every single contribution is valuable. Whether that is £10 or £100 or £1,000 or £10,000 or more. If you give what the Lord has asked you to give it is just the right amount to add up to what He plans to do through us. The important thing is to give what he has asked – no more and no less – the Holy Spirit knows our hearts and circumstances and the sacrifices we will need to make.

Who owns the property and what happens if Leeds Vineyard fails?
Leeds Vineyard operates within the larger, umbrella charity, the Wharfedale Vineyard Christian Fellowship. This charity owns the building.

In the highly unlikely event that the Wharfedale Vineyard were to come to an end, the building would be sold, any mortgage paid off and the proceeds, along with other assets, used to further the Kingdom of God in the same way as we have always sought to. The trustees at the time would probably distribute funds either to Vineyard Churches UK and/or other churches.

What if something happens to David or Alison Flowers
David & Alison have no intention of leaving Leeds Vineyard. The time may come when they hand over leadership to someone else but there are no plans yet in place for that eventuality.

The Senior Pastors of a Vineyard are not appointed but recognised. I.e. no one has the right to force them to resign or leave. If something goes wrong, one of two things happen: either Vineyard Churches UK withdraw the right to the name Vineyard from the Senior Pastors and/or the people in the church vote with their feet and leave. Their legal employers are the trustees and they can make the Senior Pastors redundant.

If there were a forced change John & Debby Wright of the Trent Vineyard (our personal overseers) and Andrew & Rosie McNeil of Birmingham Vineyard (our Regional Overseers) would work with the trustees to find leaders to replace David & Alison from within Leeds Vineyard or from elsewhere in the Vineyard.

There are insurance policies on David's life so that in the event of his death or serious illness any mortgage could be repaid.

Is property more important than people?
By no means. Jesus died to save people not premises or organisations. Buildings are just facilities which help us to do what the Lord has called us to get on and do. We have a big vision for what He has laid out for us, buying a building is simply an enabling next step.

We will resist becoming building-focussed but we will use any tool we can find, including a building, to get on with the kingdom business to which we have been called – compassion and mercy, worship and prayer.

How can I pray?

  • That God’s will is done and that we will play our part;
  • That sufficient funds will be raised;
  • That God will protect and bless the church at this time;
  • That God will bless the various people working on this project:
  • Sam & Cath, our Project Managers;
  • The trustees;
  • The staff team as they seek to maximise our impact in Headingley through Vineyard House;
  • David and Alison Flowers, as they lead.

Can we do this?
Yes, because the Lord is in it. Yes, if we are willing to pay the price and take the risk. Yes, if we keep close to him and take the next STEP He is asking of us. 

David Flowers, 18/05/2019