I’d like to invite you into a new and old way to think about church planting in America: Partnerships. It’s new because many of our current churches have not adopted this strategy here in the United States. Many of us have adopted the false idea that we need to plant new churches all by ourselves. And its old because we’ve been partnering together to plant churches for a long time internationally. See, its a new and old idea!
“In regard to church planting, I believe the the idea of incorporating partnerships is a brilliant step forward,” national director Phil Strout says. “I think it is very exciting to think of churches partnering together to plant more churches in the United States.”
We accidentally did this in Duluth, and it worked brilliantly. We had been praying about a new Vineyard church in Superior, Wisconsin for a number of years. Along the way we connected with Kenton & Donna Wilson who were attending the Vineyard church in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota—and God had been speaking to them about planting in Superior. Eventually, their church sent them out with a sizable financial gift and the Wilson’s spent the next year connecting with folks from the Duluth church, some of whom formed their core team for the plant. Presto, a partnership and a healthy church plant was born.
For the last ten years, Vineyard Missions has developed hundreds of church planting partnerships to develop churches and church planting movements around the world. Our church planting team is simply working to employ the same strategies here in the United States.
Randy Sutter, Pastor of VCF Cottonwood (Arizona) and the Lebanon Partnership states, “Using the ‘partnership’ model, that has been helpful in the area of missions, is an idea worth exploring for several reasons. From the beginning, Phil Strout, our National Director, has said that several churches working together can accomplish more than one church working alone. It’s very encouraging to work with others churches because partnerships increase the capacity of your creativity, resources, the pool of possible team members, prayer support, communication options and your care network.”
Currently, we have about thirty-five percent of our churches publicly committed to church planting over the next ten years. This is a higher commitment level than we’ve seen in the past, but we’d love to see the participation rate much higher. Utilizing partnerships, Vineyard Missions has increased local church involvement in international planting to over sixty percent.
“Working in partnerships allows churches of all sizes to do together what they cannot do alone, and every church ‘gets to play,” adds Mark Fields, the director of Vineyard Missions. “I am excited at the prospect of employing this same strategy in the United States where it promises to work equally well.”
No matter the size church you lead or are a part of, we believe that everyone brings something to the table, so to speak. We want to create ways for all of us to be a part of what God is doing to reproduce Vineyard churches throughout the United Sates. Our Vineyard distinctive of “Everyone Get’s To Play,” should apply to our bigger Vineyard community. We want to create the expectation and ability for every size and age of church to participate in church reproduction.
Why do we want every church involved? Because its more healthy. Just like in our local churches, we are much more healthy as each part of the body of Christ is functioning in their God-given role and ability, we believe this is also true in our larger movement. We are a movement of churches working together, sharing a common vision, and helping each other to expand the kingdom of God – this is all a part of what makes the Vineyard, the Vineyard.
So we invite you to join together with other churches and begin to pray and plan and dream about where and to whom God might want you to extend his kingdom through planting a new church. I honestly believe that every neighborhood in our country would benefit greatly from a healthy Vineyard church.
The Vineyard national church planting team has a number of resources to assist you and other Vineyard churches in your area to team up and build your own Partnership. Our team wants to be there with any assistance you need to get your own Partnership off the ground. Just contact Bob Ugland at [email protected] or 614-398-2122 to get started.