Here’s the second in our series of church planter stories! This time, we hear from Jason Verduzco and Vineyard 509 in Spokane, Washington. Jason’s enthusiasm for talking about what God is doing in his church is infectious—I found it hard not to smile as I was reading his responses. So take a look and find out what’s up in God’s kingdom in Spokane.
Are you part of Vineyard 509? We’d love to hear more of your stories! Post in the comments section below.
Name: Jason Verduzco
Church Plant: Vineyard 509 (after the area code where we planted)
Location: Spokane, WA
Recent read: Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard and Sex God by Rob Bell.
Music you are listening to right now: I listen to all sorts of music. When I want to sing some songs to Jesus I will usually use Pandora for playlists like Vineyard, Jeremy Riddle, Bethel, Hillsong, Worship Central. When I work out, I use the pop fitness playlist. Although, I did just put on 80’s rock for some of my recent workouts! Fun stuff.
Favorite Day-off Activity: My wife and I like to work out. We both do crossfit in our garage gym. We also like to take walks with our kids after dinner and watch the sunset.
Cutest thing your kid has said recently: “I love you, Daddy.” Melts my heart every time.
Funniest thing a new believer has said recently: This person isn’t necessarily a new believer but has just come out of a cult and is re-engaging with us in community. “Man, I wish I could think better. I am thoroughly convinced that I smoked so much pot when I was younger that I lost some brain cells.” Classic!
How did you decide where to plant your church?
Oh, my, goodness, now this is a story. Here is the really short version. We had three places that we were praying about, and we were asked to pray about taking over an established Vineyard church. As my wife and I prayed, we felt like kids in a huge candy store. It was as if God was asking us which one we wanted—there were no wrong choices. All were great options. In the end, there was a “what if” in our minds about turning down one particular option. We decided we did not want to live our lives with a “what if,” so we went for it.
What’s the biggest fear you overcame when planting a church?
The snow! We had never driven in snow before, and moving to a city that we had to drive in the snow was a little scary. If you are like me and have planted or are thinking about planting in an entirely different area, there is a lot of unknown out there. Luckily, the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, the same spirit that lives inside you and me, goes before us into the unknown.
What’s one thing you wish you had known before planting?
I knew this deep in my soul and it has served me well since, so I hope it speaks to you. There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you any more, and there is nothing you could ever do to make God love you any less. So you could go out, plant this church, and have it grow to 10,000 people. God will not love you any more! At the same time, you could totally fail, your team falls apart, you go bankrupt, and your wife asks you, “Why did we ever do this?” and God won’t love you any less. There is absolute freedom in knowing this. Knowing this from the depths of your souls allows you to go out and risk it all.
What’s has been the best experience of the first year?
We just had our 1-year anniversary of being here. So we worshipped together as a community, and then we had a BBQ. We invited everyone to join us for both, but gave the option to come to either, since we have lots of great relationships with people that don’t know Jesus and aren’t willing to come to church (yet). We had a great time of worship and after the BBQ we took a group photo. In this photo we have people that don’t follow Jesus, people that just left a cult and teens from a really rough urban part of the city. I look at that photo and praise God for all that he did, is doing, and will continue to do.
Do you have a cool story of ministry or healing that you’d like to share?
A couple months back, my wife was dropping our daughter off for school when she saw one of the other moms who is pregnant with twins. My wife asked her how the pregnancy was going and how the babies were doing. This mom shared that the doctors were concerned about the heart of one of the babies. It looked like the baby with the heart problem was going to need surgery once he was born. So my wife asked if she could lay her hand on her belly and pray. The pregnant mom said “yes.” As soon and my wife put her hand on her belly and said “Lord Jesus,” that little baby started a-moving and a-shaking. The mom was very blessed and had tears running down her face afterward. She has since given birth to the babies, and wouldn’t you know, no surgery needed—two healthy babies. Praise the Lord!
What’s something you were told about church planting that you have found to be true?
It’s hard! There are times when you question, “Why am I even doing this?” Then you remember, “What else would I do with my life?” I can’t believe that I get to build and develop a community of people to pursue Jesus. It’s hard, but so worth it.
What are one or two big things that you’ve learned along the way?
Worship is one of our highest values. So, even though we moved to a new city where we knew nobody, we still gathered on Sunday mornings to worship as a community. Well, after a few months of living in this new place, it was still just my wife, my kids, and my two friends that moved with us to plant the church gathering in the living room. I began to wonder, “Are we really a church, even if it is just us?” God revealed to me over time that yes, we are a church. We are all followers of Jesus pursuing him together in community. Secondly, give it time! Part of my church planting plan was to just take the first year to get to know my neighbors and the city. But at the same time I wanted a church that was like my sending church, and I wanted it now. In order to build deep authentic community, you have to give it time. Even though a church can grow wide quickly doesn’t mean it can grow deep quickly.
Is there a question we didn’t ask that you would love to answer?
“What is the best thing about your church planting coach?”
He is completely crazy for Jesus. I love just talking about Jesus with that man of god.
How can we be praying for you?
Please pray that the things we sense God calling us to put our time, energy, and resources into would come to fruition for the kingdom of heaven.