Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is God up to?

Back in January, Kathy Maskell led us through a time of reflection on where we were at as a group and where we were going. And someone asked an important question: "What is God up to?" We've all experienced the joy of seeing and participating in God's activity among us over the months and years. We've seen this group send its members out on missions, support each other materially and otherwise in times of need. We've dreamed together and, bit by bit, we've taken the first steps towards those dreams. We've challenged each other to take risks for the Kingdom; we've lived life together. It is just so clear that God is up to something.

After a lot of prayer, thought, and conversation, we've come to the conclusion that God is building a church among us. That church is one built to empower God's activity in the lives of its members, in the calls that He's given each of us to build His Kingdom in New Haven and around the world. It is a church utterly dependent on the power and agency of God. It's a church that looks like a network of revolutionary homegroups spread across the city, virally infecting the city with the good news of the Kingdom.

So, for a while now, we (the Maskells and Croasmuns) have been seeking counsel on how best to lead this community into becoming the church God is building—the church that, in some senses, we all already are. That process has brought us into conversation with leaders at the New Haven Vineyard, in the Vineyard movement locally and regionally, and within the homegroup. Through this process, God has confirmed His call on our group and on us as leaders in this endeavor.

So what does this all mean?

Over the next 4-5 months, 180Colony is going to become the Elm City Vineyard. Practically, that means a few things:

1) Beginning the week of September 9th, we're going to split into three homegroups: Tuesdays at 180 Colony, Wednesdays at the Ark (the Blum-stein residence), and Thursdays in the Croasmun-Sharp complex. We hope that these smaller groups will allow us to build deeper relationships with one another and, at the same time, reach more people.

2) Concurrently, we will begin meeting monthly as a whole group for worship, teaching, prayer, and communion. We're in the process of investigating venues downtown for such meetings. (If you have any suggestions for places, let us know.) We're also going to be doubly intentional about organizing social gatherings so that we can continue to hang out and invite others to get to know the fabulous people in our midst.

3) If everything checks out with the Vineyard and it seems right to the Holy Spirit and to us, we will officially "launch" the Elm City Vineyard early in January 2008. That means we're in a process this semester; we have a special opportunity this fall to really seek the Lord about what kind of church He's building, who we are to become.

Which all means, this is your church. It's the work of God in your lives and the call of God on your lives that has us so excited about embarking on this adventure together. We want your input: what do you see God doing? We'll be providing tons of opportunities for discussion—over meals, online, formally, and informally.

Pray. Seek God. We need you to be listening.

Caleb, Kathy, Matt, and Hannah



Q: What if I feel called to (or am employed by) another church?
A: We have been so blessed to have folks in our community from different Christian traditions. We'd love to have you come on this church-planting adventure with us, but, as always, our homegroups and other meetings will remain open and welcoming to folks from other churches.

Q: Who's the pastor?
A: All for of us (Caleb, Kathy, Matt and Hannah) feel called to provide leadership for this group, but we'd really like to avoid the kind of pastor-as-CEO thing for a bunch of reasons that all basically boil down to the fact that we'd like to see everyone ministering in their gifts, rather than counting on one person to embody every gift. So, for now the Maskell's and Croasmuns are "leaders" as they try to live out God's call to lead and empower others in their gifts (some of whom may well be more "pastoral").

Q: What's a Vineyard?
A: Basically, we're Vineyard. The Vineyard Community of Churches values biblical teaching, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, small groups, ministry to the poor, evangelism/missions, and empowerment of the body. For more info, check out

More Questions? Let's talk.