Last week, Vineyard Christian Fellowship Anaheim announced they were leaving the Vineyard movement by email. The news was met with shock, sadness, and anger among many (former) local stakeholders and the broader Vineyard movement. The national director of the Vineyard captured the atmosphere of Anaheim’s decision:
We were made aware of their board’s decision to dissociate from the Vineyard, effective immediately, by the Scotts at a dinner meeting on Thursday evening, February 24th. This was the first time I had had any conversation with anyone from Vineyard Anaheim about this. I received it less than 24 hours before they sent out public communication to their church announcing the decision on February 25th.
This is the church of my youth, where I met my wife, and it was essential in my journey with Jesus. John Wimber, Carl Tuttle, and Lance Pittluck were my pastors, and I’m thankful for them. My journey took me from the Vineyard to the Reformed Church in America almost twenty years ago, but Vineyard Anaheim will always be home base.
I now lead a multi-site church of similar size as the Anaheim Vineyard. We just left our denomination, where we’ve been associated for 130 years. Our process for disassociating lasted well over 12 months. We had several open meetings to get input, share the board’s thinking, inform the church community about possible new affiliations and answer questions. Last May, we held a congregational vote where over 90% of the church affirmed the board’s decision to leave the RCA.
It sounds like the Scotts were unaware of how much emotion this decision would cause. They also probably have never led a church through a process like this before. It is hard work. Even more so for John Wimber’s old church! Thankfully, we can all learn from the past and try again.
In light of the confusion and the hurt caused by Anaheim’s decision, the stated desire from the Scotts to create space for conversations, and my recent experience of leading a church through leaving an association of churches, I wanted to suggest questions current stakeholders could ask the board. Answering these questions would go a long way in showing trust and transparency in this significant decision.
- When was leaving the Vineyard association first discussed by the board? How long were the deliberations? Was a process followed in considering this decision? If yes, please explain the process.
- Is there a new affiliation being considered? Can the board give a timeline on how this possibility came about?
- Who are the board members of Vineyard Anaheim?
- How many board members are new since the Scotts became lead pastors?
- If there have been board member changes, who left the board? Why?
- Are there any conflicts of interest among any board member or director concerning this decision or possible new affiliation? Will any individual personally benefit from this decision or a possible new affiliation? If yes, please explain.
- Will there be a new process? If yes, How will the board include Vineyard USA and stakeholders from the church?
If I were a current stakeholder locally or nationally, these are reasonable questions whose answers would give absolute clarity to the situation. The answers would remove suspicions. The answers would also show the Scotts willingness to be accountable to the broader community. In our current ego-centric church culture, this would be a breath of fresh air.