September 28, 2018
February 18, 2019 | Pastor Steve Huffman
I can remember our “old auditorium” at the Jackson Road location where we were doing six services on a weekend. One of the first times I taught all six of those services, I can remember thinking during the last service, “Did I tell this story already?” Team Vineyard and our staff were doing everything they could to reach more people for Jesus, but it was clear that we needed to make more room.
In 2015, the REACH initiative was developed from a dream that Pastor Mark had to launch five Vineyard experiences in the next five years. Looking back on the last four years, and now being so close to seeing it accomplished, it is a testament to how powerful God is.
Vineyard Experience #1
Church on the Porch > South Door Campus > Chapel Venue
From there in 2015, we launched Church on the Porch which was our first attempt to learn how to do a remote venue, even though it was just down the hall and outside. I think we make a thousand mistakes, but you all hung in there and encouraged the experiment. Church on the Porch then became South Door Campus in 2016, which was our next experiment at doing a remote campus. Again you were patient as we continued to learn from our mistakes.
At the same time, we partnered with some really smart designers and a great construction firm and started a substantial expansion of our new auditorium and an addition of the Chapel as well as offices. When I first came on staff, my first office was in Room 1 where Club 54 meets. We had staff trying to find places to meet and do their work in every corner of the building. So although the office addition may not be exciting to everyone, it has provided a huge increase in staff efficiency.
Vineyard Experience #2
Day Road Campus > Grape Road Campus
Fast forward about a year into 2017, and we launched the Day Road Campus with Pastor Matt and over 80 people who went to explore new territory. This eventually became our Grape Road Campus where over 250 meet each and every week. One of my greatest joys is seeing the success at the Grape Road Campus and knowing that it traces back to the small Church on the Porch experiment. God is so faithful and Team Vineyard is so encouraging.
Vineyard Experience #3
Also in 2017, we brought on our Sturgis Venue with Pastor Barry. Good things happened in Sturgis; most of the Sturgis location got baptized. But we realized the difficulty that came with doing a remote location over an hour away. Even though we have transitioned away from Sturgis, we continue to hear good reports from the time we had in Sturgis. I think we represented Jesus well and tried to do our best work in a small city in Michigan.
Vineyard Experience #4
South Bend Vineyard Church
In the first month of 2018, we sent out David Murrell as our first church planter in REACH. When David was on staff at The Vineyard, he led South Door Campus and the Chapel Venue. Through his time on staff, I could see God calling him to be a lead pastor of his own church. He now leads South Bend Vineyard on the Northwest side of South Bend and they are getting ready to move into their new permanent facility. Some fantastic leaders decided to go with David and it was hard to see them go, but what a celebration it was knowing they were going to reach so many people in a different part of our area.
I would miss a big part of this story if I didn’t pause and say at this point I think we were tired. In the course of two years, we launched multiple remote video locations, sent a church plant and expanded our Jackson Road location. What I saw behind the scenes was a staff that was committed to doing whatever it takes to reach more people for Jesus and a group of Team Vineyard members who kept raising their hands to help out. I have never experienced anything like it.
Vineyard Experience #5
Lighthouse Vineyard Church
That was a lot in just three years, but God was calling us to more. In 2018, Pastor Clint & Rose Schwartz felt called to plant a church in the Elkhart area. Pastor Clint had such a powerful history at The Vineyard, and so it was hard to send him and his team, although we were excited that this was another plant in the REACH journey! The staff and Team Vineyard were encouraging and stepped up yet again to fill the holes of the leaders who went with the church plant.
Vineyard Experience #6
Cornerstone Vineyard Church
One more to go! We now know that Pastor Matt & Leah Poorman will be planting a Vineyard church in the northern Osceola area. Pastor Matt has done so much at The Vineyard and again it will be hard to send him and his team go, but I also know that God is faithful. We have seen it time and time again — our Vineyard family stepping up and trusting that God’s plan will be fulfilled.
Over three years into the REACH vision and we have seen so much. We are experiencing growth at both Jackson Road and Grape Road, and we are celebrating the church plants’ success in reaching new people in our area for Jesus in a way that The Vineyard Church in Mishawaka could not do prior to REACH.
In the back of our minds, throughout this journey, we have quietly wondered if being a debt-free church at the end of REACH would be possible. Ephesians 3:20 describes God as someone who can do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. On top of all that has been accomplished, through your faithful giving over the last three years, I think God has orchestrated something that is immeasurably more than I could have imagined — we are within striking distance of finishing REACH and becoming a debt-free church!
We need to finish well! We can see the finish line, but we can’t stumble before we get there. With the same encouragement, tenacity, and support through the process, we can make it to the finish line of REACH and be open to what God’s next assignment is for The Vineyard. I can hardly wait!