Welcome! We hope this report will give you a sense of what’s happening throughout the Vineyard. The best way to navigate is to scroll down and be guided by the video in each section.
We’ve also provided supporting materials, ways to connect, and straightforward financial data points we think you’ll find helpful. Feel free to share this Annual Report with staff, key leaders in your church, your board, or really anyone who would find it useful.
We are so grateful for all God has done in our churches in 2022 and look forward with great anticipation to what He will do in 2023!
In this episode of We Are Vineyard, Jay talks with Diane Leman about growing up with strong leadership skills in a legalistic religious community where women were to be silent, reconnecting with the Lord as a young adult, and the medical disruption that opened the door for new faith experiences and curiosity. Di shares about her first experience with the Holy Spirit, joining the Vineyard, and what it was like for female leaders in the early years. Finally, Di offers an encouragement about how people might think through the topic of women in leadership.Dianne Leman, M.Ed., left her career in education after encountering the Holy Spirit and experiencing God’s miraculous healing from infertility. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Vineyard Leadership Institute, and Vineyard Bible Institute, Dianne entered full-time ministry with her husband, Happy, and together they have pastored The Vineyard Church of Central Illinois, Urbana, IL. while raising their family of four sons and one daughter. Over the past forty years, Dianne has served on the Vineyard USA Executive Team, led the Women in Leadership and Renewal Teams, and traveled widely sharing God’s love and healing power. She is the author of four books that reflect her passions: We’re Pregnant! How to Receive God’s Cure for Infertility, Hello Holy Spirit: God’s Gift of Live-in Help, Jesus Heals Today: God’s Prescription for a Hurting World, and Wrecked for God: The Surprising Secret to True Transformation. While she continues to mentor many young people, her greatest joy is sharing Jesus’ love with her 12 granddaughters and 7 grandsons. Show Notes: Register for VUSA’s 2023 National Conference!: https://conference.vineyardusa.org/ Women’s Association: vineyardusa.org/associations
As we reflect on all that God has done with us in 2022, we are filled with faith for what is to come in 2023.
Vineyard USA exists so that people would know Jesus and experience the power and presence of His Kingdom. Every day our team hears stories of the incredible pastors and leaders of our VUSA churches around the country who are sharing Jesus with the people in their city, cultivating environments for encounters with the Holy Spirit, and seeing the Kingdom break out all around them. We hope that this year’s Annual Report reflects our celebration of our churches and what Jesus is doing amongst us.
In 2023, we are praying for God to meet us powerfully as we seek to start and support local churches that are deeply committed to one another. We are eagerly anticipating our National Conference this summer, where we can continue to encounter God’s power and presence, while we focus on evangelism, church planting, and global missions. I can’t wait to see you there!
May God bless each of you richly as you seek His Kingdom in your city!
Jay & Danielle Pathak
We planted Midtown Vineyard on February 9, 2020 which was 5 Sundays before COVID. My wife and I had moved to our neighborhood 7 years prior while I was co-pastoring another church.
I was working 35 minutes away, and while driving to work I could sense God saying, “You’re driving away from where I’m calling you to plant roots.” This feeling kept happening and in 2018 I knew a shift was coming, but didn’t know what it looked like. Over the next several months, many prophetic things started happening, I started talking to Jay Pathak to hear more of what the Vineyard was up to, and then my old Vineyard pastors reached out and asked if I was thinking about church planting. I really didn’t want to but I kept having this sense, so we went to a church-planting conference in Miami in January 2019, and were planning to use that week as confirmation for what we had been hearing.
We received a number of words from the Lord during this time that really helped encourage and direct us. For example, my wife and I go away in February every year for our anniversary and take some time to separately look back, look ahead, pray, and then come together to share and process. We had been battling infertility for seven years at this point and felt like we were not to formally plant until after we had a child. We had been working with a holistic doctor, which was really helpful, but we were also starting the adoption process. We adopted our daughter at nine hours old and brought her home, and then two months later found out we were pregnant. So we had two girls 9.5 months apart, and then church planted in February, so our joke is that we had three kids under one. It was a very deep experience for us.
Another time, I was at a church with my mom that I hadn’t been to and didn’t know anyone. The pastor paused in his message, looked at me, and then asked her, “Is that your son sitting next to you?” Then he said, “I don’t know what it is, but I see you starting something new and stepping into a season of preaching that you’ve never experienced before. It’s going to be a place where you have space and the capacity to lead leaders. I just see something unique in you man, and I’d love to hear more about it when we wrap up today.” He didn’t know that I was thinking about church planting, or even that I was in ministry.
Then right before we went to the conference, a man I’d never met before walked up to me in the lobby and goes to shake my hand, but has an open hand with a $100 bill. He said “Hey the thing you’ve been thinking through and aren’t sure if you should do it or not, you should go for it. I think it’s of God and he’s with you, so go.”
While all these things were happening, we kept meeting people who weren’t connected to a church, and we started meeting with about 20 of our neighbors in our living room. After a year of meeting and connecting to local organizations, we started meeting at our local elementary school. Then COVID hit and we went online for a year before moving to the building that we’re currently in.
We are definitely rooted in Place. Our church sits right between Old Fig, which is old money and million-dollar homes, and our downtown, which has low socioeconomic status and high crime rates. Our district is between the two, and is very diverse socioeconomically. We see ourselves as a bridge built through our district and believe Midtown Vineyard can bridge that gap.
When we set out as a church, there were 3 distinctions that we felt we could hold in tension: We want to be relationally authentic, spirit-dependent, and others-centered. We have found that we best connect with a psychographic of professional people who are seeking a place to be vulnerable enough to have a spiritual experience. The professionals we have are very socially conscious and committed to service, so they’re not waiting around for a place to contribute. They want to partner with the church, but they are already busy doing amazing work in our city. Our goal is not to determine how people serve or require everyone to commit to the partnerships we have, but the partnerships are great onramps for people who are new to faith or the church, who need a next step in giving themselves away.
We have community partnerships with an elementary school, a human trafficking organization, and the second-largest employer in Fresno for those who have barriers to employment. We do literacy mentoring at the local elementary school with an organization called “Every Neighborhood Partnership”, which is motivated by the third-grade literacy metric, which shows that those who are not reading at a third-grade level by third grade have a higher likelihood of ending up incarcerated. We also partner with a group called Central Valley Justice Coalition, which does a lot of preventative work. We run a lot of things to help broaden their reach, and we helped remodel a safe house for women who are coming off the streets.
In October of 2021, we had a woman in our church who had done long-term overseas Missions in the Middle East. We had a number of refugees from this area come to Fresno, and were connected to a few families. We were able to come alongside to help navigate things like housing and jobs, and some people built enough relationship to invite them over to share holidays together. There was also a tragic death in the community, and we were able to be with them during that time to share the grief. Some other women started a group called “Learning Conversations” where a group of women come together and practice their English. It has been a stretching opportunity, but really rich.
Our goal with our church has shifted with COVID, when we lost our crowd, and the ability to take on the traditional models of church growth all fell away. It has shifted my imagination of what I want this church to be, and I now see it more as a skyscraper approach, where the higher you want the building to go the deeper you have to dig down to build the supports. If we’re inviting people into the Kingdom and wanting to experience a new way of being with other people and God, we have to worry less about evangelistic programming and instead become healthy enough to be attractive.
We also don’t want to lose intentional outreach, and want to continue to help our people think through why their relationships matter. I think we have something to offer our city, and people who want to find Jesus in a unique way. We have done the work to dig down, and now we are looking to answer the question of “Now who’s it for?” Our goal is to be more relational than attractional, which is slow growth. We love our city and want to introduce people to Jesus in a powerful holistic way. We are Vineyard.
Valuing diversity has been a personal journey for me. I grew up in a really conservative Evangelical home, and I wouldn’t say we were racist or treated people differently, but we definitely weren’t aware of the Black experience.
In 2009, I started taking some DMin courses at Beeson Divinity School (Samford University) in Birmingham, AL, which is very conservative but also intent on being reflective of the diversity of its students. One Sunday, I spent 3-4 hours walking through the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham and cried through a good bit of it. The next day I went to lunch with the three African American pastors in my D.Min cohort and just asked them about their experience as Black men in the United States. That was the beginning of a major period of repentance for me, as I began to realize that so much of what I believed was wrong.
Our associate pastor Ranjo is from Mumbai, and as I was having this experience at Beeson, I became much more sensitive to his experience in the US, especially in comparison to my experience as a white person. It was an eye-opening process, and it became very important that our church at a minimum reflect the diversity in our community, which is something that we work together on prioritizing.
Diversity, both ethnic and socioeconomic, is one of our visionary values and is reflected in our hiring practices, the way we put together worship teams and community groups, and the compilation of our elder board. When you walk into a room, especially as a minority, it is important to see someone leading who looks like you; to see that people who look like you are honored, and to know that we believe people who look like you are capable of leading. If you want to be diverse, the people of color in your congregation must be represented in leadership, not just as token representation or to fulfill quotas, but real representation with voice and influence in leadership. When filling Elder Board seats, it’s a priority of ours to ask, “Who in the congregation is not white, and is also a backbone of faith in our church?”
I heard from a consultant at Asbury that if you are in a largely white context, you have to start the road to diversity and anti-racism by having a white person talk about it. We took that to heart, and I’ve done a good amount of preaching on it. Both times that I’ve talked about diversity in a major series, I’ve had white people come up and ask “do we really need to be talking about this?” and people of color come up to give me hugs and say “thank you for addressing this.” We’ve also had some people leave the church, but I know this is the Jesus thing to do. When we prioritized diversity, I was very blessed that our entire Elder Council was on the same page that we are not just inviting ethnic minorities to take part in our majority; we’re all committed to repentance and confession, growth, and continued learning because of what each person in our community brings to the table.
At Vineyard Boise we have a huge heart for the community and are always looking for ways to partner with different organizations in the city. One special partnership is with a school called Whittier Elementary – the public school that serves the kids in our area.
They have a lot of low-income families and refugees in their school community, and each year we partner with them to bring a special Christmas gift to each student, handwrite cards to every single faculty member by name and provide a warm lunch in their teachers’ lounge as a way to show appreciation for all the ways that they serve these families.
This year the leaders at Whittier noticed that many of their students had holes in their shoes and the winter was predicted to be a wet one. They asked us if we would make their Christmas gift snow boots because they saw that as the greatest need. They measured each child’s foot and created a log that they sent to us, which allowed us to create tags that our congregation were able to pick up and shop for. We collected a total of 569 snow boots for the kids and we attached small stuffed animals to each pair to add a touch of fun. The school opened up their gym to us and provided tables so that we could sort the boots by grade and throughout the day we had classes come in and the students all picked up their shoes.
This year as a special addition, the school invited us to create a family engagement piece at the end of the school day. We threw a huge party for everyone that included a hot chocolate and cider station, cookie decorating, two different art stations, a professional photographer to take family photos, and a reading area where we put a rug and some small rocking chairs where kids could listen to wintery stories. It was a beautiful time of connection for everyone involved and it created a special personal touch.
Their community director came up to us before she left and showed us a picture of a little girl holding her new boots with a smile from ear to ear. The director zoomed in on her feet and that girl had worn flip-flops with socks to school. She said, “This is why we asked you to do this.”
This outreach functions as a modern-day parable for Christ’s love for the world. Just as we entered into their school community with free gifts, Jesus entered into our world as the ultimate gift. We cared for these families with no strings attached and may never know the full impact or the seeds of love that were planted into each of their hearts. We do know that these children experienced God’s generous heart for them, even if they don’t quite know what that means.
Every year our Christmas season engages in “Advent Conspiracy” where we focus more on giving time and energy and creativity to one another and focus on worshipping the king. As part of that journey we also take the money that we would otherwise normally use as a gift for someone and donate it in a certain direction. Normally this focus would be on our foster/adopt partner 1Hope4Kids.
This year we went above and beyond, and part of it was out of desperation. As a small church, we aren’t a hub for Christmas Eve and many of our local families travel to see their extended family. I found out very early on that we were not going to have any worship team members present on Christmas Eve, and it was going to be a far cry from a “destination Christmas Eve service” that many churches hope for.
We typically send out 10,000 cards every Christmas season inviting our community to join us for advent and Christmas Eve. This year, knowing that our church service was going to be less than typically spectacular in any musical way (it ended up being very special nevertheless) we decided to use those invitations to invite the community to join us in doing some practical good for the community.
The idea was first introduced to us by the Ann Arbor Vineyard in 2019. We contacted RIP Medical Debt and they let us know that Bexar County (San Antonio) had one of the largest medical debt loads out of any other county in the country. (Almost $350 million)
Our board decided together that in order to be more authentically ourselves as a congregation we wouldn’t invite people to a Christmas spectacular; we would invite them to join us in serving the poor. That’s who we are, so let’s do it publicly.
At the same time, we were watching our Argentinean churches do something called “Un Regalo Mas.” The Cordoba church plant is very small, maybe 5 committed families, but twice a year they have 300 people joining them to give Christmas gifts to Bolivian refugees in barrios all over the city. Through their connections with social workers, they started “Un Regalo Mas” and partnered with their friends and friends of friends to be involved in God’s kingdom work to give Christmas presents, clothes, and other needs to these mostly Bolivian refugees in Cordoba.
From their example, we decided to invite our community to join us in paying off debt, but also joining our elementary/middle school partner Rogers Academy. Rogers had specific families that they knew needed help with Christmas gifts and basic needs. We allowed people to choose their own adventure to help a local family and/or donate towards paying off medical debt.
Our church responded very well!! Our typical response to supporting 1Hope4Kids is $1500 to $2000. They responded this year with over $7000 towards RIP medical debt. The church also decided to send $3000 to 1Hope4Kids to continue our relationship and support of them.
Upon looking at the donor results from the RIP Medical Debt giving site, we did not notice any donors from outside the church. I’m disappointed that we did not have the same community involvement as our friends in Cordoba but nevertheless, I’m very grateful for what God did.
Our goal was to raise $10,000 to pay off $1 million. The typical return is 1:100. There was a temptation to fulfill the last $2900 from our general funds in order to reach our goal. However, in my prayer time, it felt fake to do that so we closed the campaign with the thought that we would not be able to pay off $1,000,000. However, when we finally got the tally we found out that over $1.5 million was paid off. It blew us away. That equates to over 1700 families having their debt paid off, and they are currently receiving letters in the mail that our church paid off their debt.
I hope this story helps to share the unamazingness of our church and the beautiful faithfulness of God.
He is amazing. We don’t know what we are doing.