Essential Training

We want to set up all our church planters to win. And so we have developed a brand new course for potential church-planters that, in our church context, we believe will equip you with the minimum skills and experience that you would need to plant a Vineyard church, and give you a good start in church leadership. We are unbelievably excited about it. It will help you get off the starting blocks in the best way we can conceive of at present. Clearly further coaching and training (and perhaps study) may be required as your leadership journey progresses.

The link to our course, the City Church Leadership Academy is here. We find it very hard to imagine releasing and commissioning any church planters who have not engaged with this course on some level.  The course is open to anyone over the age of 21 from any church, subject to selection, and there are full-time and part-time options.

Why plant churches?

So my friend Andrew McNeil sent me this amazing paper by Tim Keller, that I’m sure we’ll come back to a LOT. Here’s the first paragraph for your delectation:

“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes–will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.” Tim Keller

What kind of churches will we plant? (Part 2)

So…. why, if Jesus loves all kinds of churches, are we only planning to plant ones that carry the Vineyard DNA and immediately become card-carrying members of our movement?

The answer is that we want all the churches that we plant to thrive. The dream is for a growing number of growing, healthy churches to be established in our generation, that will outlive us and serve their communities for many generations to come. We believe that planting Vineyard churches will give each church a really great start. Here’s why we believe that:

Track Record
The Vineyard movement has been established for 40 years, and has grown from a handful of churches in California, to a gloriously diverse group of around 2,400 churches around the world. The Vineyard knows how to plant healthy, growing Vineyard churches and draws from all those years of experience every time we plant a new church.

Quality Assessment
Having learned much from the successes and failures of church plants over the years, the Vineyard has developed an excellent discernment process for potential church-planters. This means that if anyone in our church family feels called to plant a church, the Vineyard brings a huge amount of expertise to the table to ensure we only release people when (and if) they are ready.

Great Training
There are a number of pieces of the training jigsaw which will come from our Vineyard family. A Cause to Live For, Hub, Vineyard Institute (theology), Church-planting intensives (like boot camps) are all easily accessed.  Of course there are also about 120 other churches in the UK and Ireland family from whom people can learn.

Expert Oversight and Coaching
One of the main reasons that we joined the Vineyard in the first place was because we couldn’t imagine how City Church could be solely responsible for loads of other churches. The glory of belonging to a church-planting movement is that all pastors and church-planters have the opportunity to be overseen, coached and mentored by people who have been there, seen it and bought the t-shirt.

Perhaps the most significant reason is much less about pragmatics, and much more about belonging. For many years our church was independent. And whilst we didn’t feel lonely (because we had friends) or vulnerable (because we were fairly self-sufficient), we did often reflect on a longing for a wider family. Since joining the Vineyard we have LOVED being part of a family. We have been the recipients of all kinds of encouragement, blessing and banter (as well as some pretty direct conversations) that only happen in families. We want that for all our church plants.

What I’m really saying is that if we were to send out anyone to plant a church which was not to be a Vineyard, we could have little confidence that it was going to thrive. On the other hand, by planting Vineyard churches we give each one a great chance of health, growth and longevity.

What kind of churches will we plant? (Part 1)

I was sat in on of our church services recently, and I was struggling. I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was exactly – to be honest, I was probably just tired (and therefore grumpy).

To me, the songs all sounded like they’d been slowed down – as if the wrong speed had been selected on the record player. It probably wasn’t the A-team of worship bands. The guy behind me was singing VERY loudly and horribly out of tune. There was all kinds of disruption happening in  the room – a guy on the other side was very drunk and causing a bit of scene; a baby was screaming at the top of her lungs.

I remember saying to myself, “I don’t know what to make of this today, but I don’t like it.” And I’m pretty sure that Jesus responded, “I LOVE it.” He apparently wasn’t phased by the tuning of the chap behind me, nor the drunk guy on the other side. He just loves it when his people worship him. I realised then that our preferences aren’t his preferences. I might prefer middle-of-the-road 90s soft rock worship. Others may choose choral evensong or Gregorian chanting. And Jesus loves it all. He sees beyond the melodies to the heart. He loves the diversity and variety of the Christian church which, come to think of it, reflect his nature.

Having said all that, for very practical reasons we are only planning to plant Vineyard churches: churches that carry the family DNA; churches that join the movement from their inception, that belong to our family.

Inverness Vision Evening

We are desperately excited about sending Thomas & Mhairi Urquhart to plant a brand new church in the city of Inverness. They’re already gathering a team, and if you’re interested in hearing more (no strings attached!) then do come along and hear them talk about the vision on 22 June, at 7.30pm in the Gilc Park downstairs hall.

Introducing Thomas & Mhairi

Thomas & Mhairi Urquhart will be launching Inverness Vineyard late 2017.  They have two wonderful boys, Joshua and Struan.

We are so excited to announce that later this year they’ll be packing up and heading to sunny Inverness to get settled and knitted into the community.