Four years ago this week — on October 17, 2010 — we held our first-ever church service. So we’re turning “4”! As I look ahead to Friday, I felt led to write about the 123 “reasons” why we will be able to celebrate this birthday.
These 123 “reasons” are 123 people.
Before I talk about them, here’s a quote from Andy Stanley: “As is the case with anyone who is casting a vision, Nehemiah [from the Bible] had no idea how people would respond. After all, he was a newcomer. They [the people of Jerusalem] had been content… For all he knew, they might run him out of town, or laugh, or worse yet, just ignore him.”
That quote was very real to Kellie and me four years ago. We still remember our thoughts and emotions in June 2010 when we publicly announced our intentions to plant a church. We wondered… Will people jump on board? Will they say “I’ll pray for you” (and actually do it) or just say it? Will they simply smile and offer some encouraging words? Will they tune us out completely?
When we felt called by God to plant a church, it was a leap of faith. A leap we knew God was calling us to take, but a leap nonetheless. And in the beginning it was just us. Our original “core team” of key volunteers consisted of 2 adults and 2 1/2 “junior helpers”: Kellie, me, Faith, and Evelyn (Kellie was pregnant with Elizabeth at the time).
Over the next several months we began to cast vision with one person… one couple… one family at a time. People began to feel led by the Holy Spirit to go “all in” with us and help turn the dream of this new church into a reality.
Fast forward 4 years. Since our pre-launch days to today, our core team of key volunteers has exploded — going from 4 1/2 people to 123 adults… and teens… and children! Yes, we believe people of all ages can serve and volunteer. 🙂
And we are blown away at our attendance-to-volunteer ratio. Most churches fall in line with the 80/20 principle where 80% of the work is done by just 20% of the people. At our church, this ratio is almost completely inverted! We have an incredibly high percentage of people who do much more than just “go” to our church.
Week in and week out, Kellie and I are humbled when we think of the amazing people God has drawn to The Eastside Vineyard Church. Every Sunday it takes 30 volunteers to “help make church happen” and transform Shelby Jr. High School into The Eastside Vineyard Church. And at the end of the morning they put everything “back in the box” and load it into our portable trailer. Here is a snapshot of what they do on any given Sunday:
“Unleashing the beauty of God written on the hearts of our children.” Those words are on a sign in our Vineyard Kids hallway and it’s what our teachers and assistants and “junior helpers” do in our newly expanded four separate age-groups of Vineyard Kids.
And then there’s the truck team that hauls our portable church trailer to and from Shelby Jr. High (and this past winter which was absolutely brutal… blizzards and ice and even a dead van battery never stopped them!).
And then there’s the band and tech team, who not only make worship happen, but are also unofficial members of our set-up and tear-down teams.
And then there’s the Eastside Cafe, baking, Welcome Center, communion, security, and usher and greeter teams that make everyone feel welcomed and “at home” from the moment they arrive until they walk out the doors.
And there are several other teams that function more behind the scenes, including the meal ministry, finance, medical, Computer Pantry, and Advisory Board.
And then there’s our small army of small group leaders that open up their homes to make church happen between Sundays.
And finally there’s our prayer team that makes the phrase “we are a church that believes in the power of prayer” much more than a cliche.
Those are quick snapshots of what our volunteers do. And they don’t just “do” these tasks. They do them with phenomenal attitudes.
Our church simply would not exist without these 123 people. Not only wouldn’t we have ever turned “4” without them, we wouldn’t have lasted a month!
So let me ask you a question to reflect on… and to act on. Because I hope you were inspired by what you read, but I hope it doesn’t stop with a feeling.
The local church is the hope of the world. So what are you currently doing and what *should* you be doing in and through your church? Let me encourage you to… pray for it and I mean really pray for it. Pray for its pastor and his family. Serve the poor and those in need through its ministries during the week. Attend it every… single… Sunday. Volunteer at it. Join one of its small groups, maybe even lead one. Be radically generous in your giving to it. Tell others about it.
I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. – Jesus in Matthew 16:18
***“Peace of God of Peace.” That’s the title of my sermon this Sunday as we continue our series: The Power of Peace. And no that title is not a type-o! The Bible teaches us that the “God of Peace” will give us the “peace of God” which is supposed to surpass understanding. The question is how do we receive this peace? And how do we maintain it? Come Sunday as we press into these tough questions. October 19th. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***