Monday, October 24, 2005

Next gathering... PLUS initial Co-op proposal

~ Our next monthly gathering will be on Wednesday, Nov. 9 @ 10:30 a.m. More information will be coming your way later this month. BLOCK the date and time on your calendar now.

~ There have been a handful of us who are envisioning a cooperative among some of our communities/churches. If you are interested in joining the initial phase of this conversation, drop me an e-mail. We are meeting on Tuesday night, Nov. 8 @ 5:30 p.m. For more information, e-mail me at

The initial proposal for this cooperative effort reads as follows:
Emergent Church Co-Op Proposal

Cooperative Leadership

As the pastor of a smaller, emergent church I often find myself missing the teamwork I experienced (at times) on the staff of a larger, more traditional church. Ironically, I think that one of the values of most emergent church pastors is leadership via teamwork and coalition vs. single, or isolated leadership. Therefore, I am suggesting that as pastors, some of us take the time to meet regularly (starting with one day per week) to discuss our churches, pray together, plan together, and learn together. This could become a more practical, personal, or specific complement to our larger monthly gatherings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.

Eventually, as trust and rhythm is developed, we could take our cooperation to an organizational level. We could save a lot of money and energy by working together on issues such as church liability insurance, office keeping, administration, account management, and other business-type activities. This could also provide a non-profit structure that is available for new church-planters to plug into without having to start from scratch.

Cooperative Worship

Although it has too often become the main point, a large group worship service does play a beneficial part in the life of the church. At River Valley Vineyard we enjoy the flexibility of our small group format, but also desire to join with other Christians in the expression of our faith through music, singing, prayer, and story telling. We find that many people can’t (nor should) make the transition from historical and traditional forms of “church” to our emerging expressions of a community life based on common faith. (Many of us as emergent leaders fit in this category I think!) I am suggesting here that we gather as smaller emergent communities of faith to share a time of worship, stories, historic liturgy, and table fellowship for the benefit of:
1. Those who are already part of our church communities who would find joy and strength from the larger body of Christ joining together (as we have found the same in our monthly meetings at “The Bite”)
2. Those who are close to joining our church communities but find the lack of a familiar worship service too big of a gap to overcome.

I suggest that we try to work this into the regular rhythm of our community life. This would seem to necessitate at least a monthly gathering. Again, we could start with one Sunday per month, and build from there as trust and benefit naturally develops.

Cooperative Service

The world needs to see the church cooperating together to accomplish the purposes of the Kingdom of God. We can start by working on local and international projects together that address the pressing social issues of our time – AIDS, poverty, violence, and spiritual emptiness. If we can work together on tangible projects, then our message of justice, grace and compassion will be felt, as well as heard. I know we would benefit by pooling our resources and efforts in a way that will lead to a rich celebration of the fruit of the kingdom!

For example, our church has worked to resettle a Rwandan refugee family in Grand Rapids, and has just purchased land to begin construction of an orphanage in Kenya. We would love partnership in these areas as we would also like to partner with other churches on similar service projects. My suggestion here is that we can do more and better work - together.


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