I hope you are well. We wanted to give you a bit of an update, which will be a bit of repetition for those there on Sunday, and some news for those who couldn’t be there!
Our family had an amazing time on sabbatical where we got space and time to really think about what is important to us as a family, as a church and about the future of MVC. We are so so grateful for this opportunity. We will definitely be telling you more as we go along! But for now, after reflecting during our time away, we have come to a few conclusions.
Firstly (and maybe not surprising to many of you,) has been a bit of a reality check for us, and that is that we cannot continue in the way things have been going. Both myself and Mel have been more snappy with our kids/each other/friends/ <INSERT NAME HERE??> etc etc, and have generally been struggling to keep afloat. Our natural inclination to try please people, has led us to waiver in our vision and our passion and to become somewhat tired and nearing burn-out – where we are doing things for the sake of doing them and for not out of a drive, passion or calling at all.
For those who know me (Matt) – I love being around people, but for some time now, I have felt more and more withdrawn, wanting to spend my time, by myself. (This in itself isn’t a bad thing – but for an extrovert like me, it sets off alarm bells!) By the end of our time away, I was feeling a bit more like my old self, wanting to enjoy life more and wanting to see people again. So this led us to the belief that we are currently trying to achieve the unsustainable. (By the way, we have also had time to reflect with many of you, and have seen many of you experiencing such feelings as well.)
BUT all hope is not lost!! In fact it is time to be hopeful!! The flip side to this, is that it has made us look more deeply at what we believe we are being called as a church and to know that we cannot just settle with things in the way they are. We feel we need to go back to our vision and values – what makes us who we are as a church family – our uniqueness, our way we do things, or as Sarah coined it – our SCARF.
These values of Simple, Caring, Authentic, Relevant and Fun are a lot of what makes us, well us.
We want to explore these deeper in home groups and on Sundays, not just from a church point of view, but from a holistic approach – in our work, family, friendships and relationships. But more than this, we both feel that God is calling us back to putting the Holy Spirit back at the centre of what we do. Now this might sound odd, as surely we have been doing this (?) but subtly we have had our plans starting to press in. I have heard it said in the past that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and that got me thinking. If we invite him in, he will come, but if we not concentrating, we start unintentionally taking over, then I believe he will generally stand back and let us carry on with our thing.
Psalm 127:1 says
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.”
It has really struck home to us and what we have been challenged by God with.
So therefore, we have thought long and hard, prayed much, and have decided the following: (Proverbs 13:6 "Commit your actions to the Lord, and He will establish your plans")
1) We are stopping meeting at Park Community School, with the last meeting on the 22nd of September. We have been blessed here and have enjoyed our time, but over the past months, many of us have felt, and believe, that we need to move on. Previously we have said we will wait for something better to come along and then move, however, having spoken to most of you, we find that the setup is just not fun or simple anymore, and so we are giving a definite date to stop. If nothing comes up between now and then, then we will move to our home so that we can seek out God better and see where he will lead Merton Vineyard. In fact, this is not a bad thing, as we really want to simplify and this makes natural sense. (Which leads to point 2!)
2) We are going to simplify things a bit for Sunday and give more time for the Holy Spirit to make his dwelling among us. By this I mean our focus as we enter this New School Year is going to be on the hope and joy that God has promised, that we can make an environment where we will truly trust in the Holy Spirit, his healing, miracles, peace and joy, so that we can be strong and grow further in Him. (Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”) Lastly, as Proverbs has said above, we are going to commit these actions to the Lord each step of the way.
So what does this mean practically?
We are not abandoning Sunday Services, although we are changing how we do them. We will still have a clear time for our Kids to grow and develop in their faith, and will still have worship, teaching, prayer and ministry. We are not turning Sunday into a home group, but making it more suitable for our size and relationships. And of course, our home groups will still continue! And did I mention more parties and food? Yes, there will be more time for us to just be together, pray together and grow together. (which reminds me - don't forget to keep Saturday the 12th October in the evening free!)
Please do come and chat to us, we don’t have all the answers, but we are stepping forward in faith and commitment to see what God will do, and pray that He will be building this house.
Much Love and Peace,
Matt & Mel