Just sent this letter on our Vineyard Community Mission Netowrk newsletter. (Want to subscribe for free? Just email a request to receive it sent to firstname.lastname@example.org):
"Just six months ago when our beloved Crown Valley Vineyard Church closed, the world looked very different. Although the first hints of the current financial strain and chaos were blipping on the radar last summer, the campaign cycle was in full swing, there had been no bank and mortgage meltdowns or mass layoffs yet, and most folks (including Christian leaders and church members) anticipated "business as usual".
My how things have changed!
It turns out that our move to replant our ministry to the community IN the community couldn't have been more timely. Many churches and non-profits are reporting that they are in serious financial trouble at a time when people need help more than ever. If there was ever a time for God's people to re-imagine ministry through more simple, organic and purely biblical models, it is now.
What I saw and heard at our last ATM (our network's monthly "All Together Meeting")confirms my suspicion that we don't need a lot of the resource-hungry structures and programs to "equip the saints to do the work of the ministry". You are doing as much or more actual outreach and care ministry now as you did when we were still a traditional church (CVV).
You are meeting neighbors and connecting. You are doing ministry in everyday places as everyday people who know Jesus. You are training and branching out into new ministry on the internet, at Birth Choice and in other ways and in other places.
And here's what is really interesting: WE ARE BEING WATCHED. Witness this email I just received through our VCMN website:
I am the pastor of a local church in Santa Ana and recently came across information regarding your ministry. I was quite intrigued by the structure of your church because we have a very similar structure. More than a centralized church, we are a small ministry network with expressions of church that meet around our community in Santa Ana. We are committed to working in some of the more economically challenged communities in our city. Most of us have moved into the city as we seek to establish God's kingdom in our community.
I wanted to know if it would be possible to speak to a pastor or ministry leader from your church network. I would like to dialogue about your church structure. I have read your story on-line and have many questions. What would be the best way to connect with someone from your ministry?