In September 2014, I stood in front of Shore Vineyard churches for the last time and was decommissioned as the assistant pastor. Gabrielle and I were being released to begin our explorative journey of what it was to plant the church God was putting on our hearts. We didn't know what it was going to be like, but we were willing to give it a shot.
Over the coming months our Central Vineyard church plant has slowly emerged. People have signed up and plans have formed. God began showing us what direction to head in and we have started to head there and see what happened. We are now well on our way in this journey – it's not just a hunch anymore, but a reality.
Which brings us to this Sunday: we will stand in front of our Shore Vineyard family again, this time not to be decommissioned to investigate, but commissioned to go and do what we are now doing: planting Central Vineyard.
In the book of Acts is the story of the birth of the Church. Jesus issues the visionary orders that they will be filled with God's Spirit and they are to "go to the ends of the earth." This all becomes a reality by the explosive act of God's Spirit creating a strong gathering of believers in Jerusalem and then, through the persecution of the believers, the church scatters out into the surrounding regions where these scattered-ones don't stop sharing this new Good News and making more believers...
...who form more gatherings. The way the church spread was by the gathered ones becoming the scattered ones, who then made more gathered ones who joined in God's work in that other place. It took being grounded somewhere, but also the uprooting of being sent out.
Our church roots are with the gathered ones of Shore Vineyards, our fantastic church family who have grown us up to be the people we are today, and bitter-sweetly, this weekend we will be with this family for the last time. This Sunday, our SVC family will do like the prophets and teachers of Antioch did in Acts 13:3, who "laid their hands on them and sent them on their way", releasing Paul and Barnabas to go and do what the Holy Spirit was leading them to do.
We are proud of our roots. We love Vic and Fran, our pastors who have equipped us and raised us up. We love the countless amount of people we have served alongside in all kinds of ways over the years – many of them are close friends still today, and we will miss doing the work of the Kingdom with them all. There is the sad and painful cost for us in being uprooted and sent, and it's that we don't get to do this with this family anymore. But this is what it looks like to be in a movement of churches that values multiplication – we know that the Body of Christ is one of gathering together, but also being scattered elsewhere to be salt and light. As John Wimber used to say, "we want to be change in God's pocket, and He can spend us however He likes" and this is how we are choosing to be spent.
So we look forward to being with our Shore Vineyard family this Sunday, as they bless us to be sent on our way to go make our new family, Central Vineyard. If you're a friend who is going to be there, we look being with you then and receiving your blessing to go.