We love to hear the stories of how our newest Vineyard church plants are reaching their communities in unique ways. Allison Mackey and her husband Chad are planting the Vineyard@Downtown in Florence, AL and they have found God nudging them to get involved in the music scene in their town. Allison shared their story with us.
About five years ago, my husband Chad and I found ourselves at a party in the home of a local music celebrity. His quarterly parties had become legendary, and we were crammed shoulder to shoulder with over a hundred strangers in his home, listening to some amazing live music.
When we left, Chad and I were comparing notes about the evening, talking about the huge number of talented musicians that were filling a void in their lives with drugs and alcohol. Moved with compassion, Chad said, “No one is pastoring these people.”
The seed was planted. We knew we wanted to start investing in these people.
We are both musicians, so it’s a natural community that forms around us, and God has favored us in this area.
Over the next few years, we continued to make personal connections with local musicians by taking part in local open mic nights, playing shows around town in a Celtic band, and by attending music events in bars and coffee shops.
We bought our home in the downtown area in 2019, knowing it was the perfect place for house shows. Before COVID-19 hit, we intentionally hosted “low-spiritual” events so we could meet people and begin to develop relationships with them.
When we do a house show, we put our dining room table in the garage, make a bunch of food, borrow a sound system, and invite every musician we know. Our first event was a housewarming/Saint Patrick’s Day party in 2019 where 28 adults and 10 children attended, and we didn’t know half of them. Success!
There were almost 50 adults at our second house concert in June of last year, and nearly that number in September. We love welcoming strangers into our home, feeding them, and inviting them into community. Then we’re able to be attentive to their needs.
We prayed for one young musician with constant shoulder trouble from lifelong violin practice, and she’s begun to ask questions about God and faith. We’re able to walk the long road with these folks, playing music together and letting the Holy Spirit work.
About eight months after meeting a woman at the first house show, she took a nasty spill and broke both bones in her leg. After she came home from surgery, we made a homemade dinner, took it to her house, and prayed for her leg. We found out they were followers of Jesus and we’ve invited them to our next home group kick-off.
Another thing we love about doing this is we get to see who the helpers are. Who brings food? Who helps clean up? Who invites friends? We’re looking for God to highlight those “sticky” people or “persons of peace” to invite them to join us.
The musicians we’re meeting all say the same thing: they long for community. When people feel welcomed and loved and nurtured, they let their guard down and let you into their lives. That’s precisely where we want to be.
Of course, the house shows were totally derailed during the pandemic, but when our family came down with it, we were loved on by some of those same people we’ve come into new relationships with! People brought freshly baked cookies, a case of Gatorade, and quite a number of meals to our front door while we were recovering. Though we dearly miss live music, we’ve made sure to keep tabs on our friends through social media and text messages.
COVID-19 also directly affected our job situation. Chad was furloughed in early April, and felt the strong nudge of God to get a job in the community. He started two part-time jobs in early September, and after working from home behind a desk for 20 years he is thoroughly enjoying his new jobs where he meets new people constantly.
God has been speaking to us about renting a local venue that’s closed on Sundays and has a stage and sound system, so it’ll be perfect for church!
We’re excited about what God is doing, even if it isn’t what we expected it to look like.
About the Author
Chad and Allison Mackey were both born in Atlanta and raised in the metro suburbs. Chad came into the Vineyard in 1992, and Allison joined in 1993. They were worship leaders and youth pastors at the Marietta Vineyard, then relocated to north Alabama in 2009. Besides planting a church and playing music in the community, Chad just recently left his 20-year corporate job to work two part-time jobs in Florence. Allison is a published children’s author with Lifeway, and works full time from home for an insurance broker. Chad is an avid runner, and Allison loves to garden. They have three adult children and a son-in-law.
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