I have just come back from another evenings fellowship at the farm of Rob and Suz. Mike, the co-ordinator of Vineyard in the Bath area was there giving a talk about the structure of the organisation and the way forward as they see it at the moment. At the end of the meeting we had a good chat and I was able to get to know him better.
I told him that in 10 years of being in Midsomer Norton I had not committed myself to such an extent as I had with Vineyard. It is not so much what IS there but what it NOT there. I guess it is the structure of the church, the politics, the tradition and so forth.
I realise that I have quite a lot to contribute with regard to how organisations grow, because I ran a social organisation, London Village, in the 70s for seven years with about 4000 members. We retained control through a series of hubs which related to the postal district of London and surrounding areas. Through keeping the coordinators happy and informed we were able to maintain order and harmony throughout the whole group. This was the days before the internet when everything had to be done by mail and telephone. The members received a newsletter once per month. We had over 200 social events monthly with as many again off programme.
I reminded the Vineyard meeting that volunteers had to be looked after otherwise they would burn out, that Small Is Beautiful applies to some of the most successful family-based organiations but there comes a time when structures have to change normally due to growth and I was reminded of cells in the human body. They cannot be bigger than a certain size and at a certain point they divide into two or more. I spoke about hairline cracks which is where people maintain a countenance but what are driven by why differences that they do not bring to the surface and I said that hairline cracks were much more dangerous for the longevity of an organisation than obvious differences which were out in the open. Ventures work best if people serve rather than fight for power. As a notice in my father’s pulpit said ‘Sir, We would see Jesus’
Again, I seemed to be the only one jumping around and speaking though there were one or two other people who had something to say. There was a couple who had just come back from missionary work in Africa somewhere and there was someone else who had just returned from New Zealand ; she was in awe of the beautiful scenery. She was there for 5 weeks, just about enough time to visit the North and South Islands. Incidentally the total length of New Zealand is 1000 miles and yes you can drive all the way. She only arrived back 2 weeks ago so she witnessed the resignation of the beloved Jacinda.
What I like about such meetings irrespective of their averred purpose is the people you meet and the lives you encounter without expecting anything.
I gave a testimony about how I started to contribute to the organisation from the financial point of view. I decided to pay only what was comfortable and decided to give the equivalent of 1 glass of wine per week and then work up from there are. I hope that this was an encouragement to others to give because as I said previously the the cost of maintaining three Church Centres was over £100,000 and we must all take responsibility for this.
For some reason I was attracted to Mike’s description of the armour (of God) and weaponry of the Vineyard people. I felt that an image (updated perhaps) could come out of the diagram above which was drawn on a table cloth by the founder of the Vineyard in the USA. . I rashly said that next Monday I would have a work of art version that could be used to train and inspire people.
My stomach is functioning perfectly. Last night I had such pain that I could not sleep and had to be in the sitting room. I blame the loaf of bread we bought in Frome. Who knows what was in the flour. Roundup perhaps?