Yesterday we started answering the question, “Why Don’t We Have a Men’s/Women’s Group,” here @ the Vineyard, by talking about the vision of our church.  The conclusion of that post is below (if you didn’t ready yesterday’s post, everything will make much more sense if you start there!):

Our philosophy of discipleship is again, Connect with God through Sunday morning worship; Connect with others through weekly small groups, and Contribute your time, talent, & treasure.

For the average person, and the people we are trying to help connect with Jesus, there are only so many hours in a week. (okay not just for the average person).  And each time you add another item or event to a person’s calendar, they have to make a choice…”What do I want to be a part of?  With the limited time that I have available, where am I going to invest my time?”  Let’s face it, most of us have been in churches, where they have a bunch of programs, and much of the discussions involves trying to come up with creative ways to get people to show up for all of these meetings.

The first church I was on staff with has a Sunday night service, and common theme in the Sunday night sermons, were “people need to be more committed and come to church on Sunday nights.”

The problem was, they were committed.  But 3 or 4 other church commitments during the week as well as jobs and families…and there was only so much they could do.

A couple of years ago I went to the Willow Creek leadership Summit & heard Craig Groeschel speak & he said something that made so much sense, and fits with what we’re talking about here:

If you want to reach people that other churches are not reaching, you need to do what other churches are not doing.  And, if you are going to do what other churches are not doing, you can’t do everything that other churches are doing.

While we understand that some people have really benefited from men’s/women’s groups, and we’re glad that there are churches out there that are doing those types of ministries well, for us to focus on what we believe God has called us to do, we simply can’t do everything that other churches are doing.

Think about it this way…If you’ve been around the Vineyard any length of time, you know that we put a very high priority on kinship groups. (in fact, if you haven’t signed up for our winter/spring semester yet, you can do that here!).  And since we believe that these groups are one of the 3 key things that we want people at the Vineyard  involved in, we do not offer ongoing events that compete with our kinships.

We want you to have quantity time with you family.  We want you to get to know and bless your neighbors & the people you work with. And we want you to be part of a kinship group…and so, we’ve made a conscious choice that we are not going to fill the calendar with “stuff.”

Take a guy who is working 40-50, or more hours a week.  He has kids in middle school and high school, and wants to actually spend time with his wife.  Say he is coming to church on Sunday, & kinship on Wednesday.  And since this guy has a limited amount of time in his week, once you add men’s group on Saturday morning, you are now asking him to make a choice…kinship or men’s group.  And when we do that, we’ve violated the core philosophy of how disciples grow at the Vineyard.

(If you’re still a bit skeptical, I’d encourage you to get a copy of Simple Church, by Thom Rainer.  He says it much better than I could & backs it all up with research!)

So here’s our church’s thinking on men’s groups & women’s groups.  First off, contrary to what you might think, we are not opposed to them.  In fact, there are some options that we think would fit in well with how the Ithaca Vineyard currently works.  For example:

1) We’d love to see a men’s kinship (or a couple men’s kinships).  And likewise, we’d love to see one or more women’s kinships. In fact, if leading a kinship group like this sounds like something you’d like to do in the future, why not talk to your kinship leader about how you could go about becoming a kinship leader.

2) In addition, since we generally have 4-6 weeks off between our kinship semesters, that could be a great time to plan an event or two.  And maybe down the road, we are able to use those semester breaks as a time to regularly hold those types of events.

So, if you’ve got a passion for this type of ministry…AND, you’ve got a passion for the Vineyard, & the people who are here, start getting those creative juices flowing.  How would that fit into what it is that God has called us to do here in Ithaca?