How many chairs should we put out? A question I’ve asked almost every month for just under 4 years. The answer was usually very simple – look at last year’s numbers and work with that.
But what do you do on your first Sunday? Your very first Sunday.
Aside from the logistical side, of course, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is who are the people on the chairs? Are they new to church? Exploring faith? Old or new friends? Are they hurting? Excited? What is it that led them here?
One thing was for sure – the Lord was in that place.
Many before have described coming to the Vineyard as coming home. For one lady, the relief of finding a church after 15 years of searching brought her, and those welcoming her, close to tears. Some of the team likened the experience to their wedding day – all a bit of a blur. You know you’re thrilled, of course, but the finer details tend to flash by, leaving you rather stunned.
The only thing that stunned me, however, was how natural the whole thing felt. I honestly felt we had been doing this for years – not hours.
After serving the beautiful croissants and melon provided by our friends in the restaurant, and a brief time of getting acquainted, we begin with worship – as all things should. The sound was simple but beautiful and completely from the heart. After months without the regular privilege of entering the presence of God with so many others, it was a wonderful and replenishing time.
After a short break and a chance to chat, Paul and Steph shared their journey with us – holding nothing back. Crushing pain, incredible joy, struggles, confusion and peace were laid before us in a generous display of openness and integrity. The bar is set and we choose to hold nothing back.
Throughout the talk, there could be little doubt that the smaller members of the church were having a great time downstairs. The IKEA toy department was empty, the party was in full swing and frequent sounds of pure joy echoed through the floorboards.
We finished with ministry, launching straight into praying for one another. Whether we’d met each other once, twice or five times was irrelevant. Wherever the Spirit works, we want to be a part of it.
Within what seemed like no time at all, the tablecloths were back on, the toys were back in their boxes and, were it not for the strengthening sense of community taking hold of all of us, you might never know we’d been there at all.
Please join us next Sunday. We’d so love to meet you.