Note from Bubba Justice

I have pastored the Inverness Vineyard Church for 20 years. I have also led the U.S. Kenya Missions’ Partnership. In 12 years, Vineyards from South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States labored along with Kenyan nationals to watch the Vineyard grow from two churches to more than 80 churches. In August 2012, Kenya was released as their own Association of Vineyard Churches.

Kenyans have actively grown each church through evangelism. Each of the Vineyard churches in Kenya is self-supporting -- no Western money pays an ongoing salary, nor does outside money regularly pay for meeting space. Vineyard churches are led by Kenyan pastors. There is a network of trans-local leaders made up of area pastors, regional leaders and a national team.

Many people in the Vineyard mission community have asked me how we were able to do this so soon when we have worked longer in many nations.

We have poured tens of thousands of dollars -- sometimes hundreds of thousands -- into some countries and have not lasting impact. We have made hundreds of trips and had thousands of people who have attended our meetings but only a few churches have been planted.

My first response is God is sovereign, and his work must be acknowledged. My second response is that we did many things differently in Kenya.

Unity was key. The AVCs of the United Kingdom, South Africa and United States chose to work together with the Kenyan pastors from the very beginning. A representative from the U.K. did an excellent job facilitating this process.

Also, A South African leader championed the idea the Kingdom of God could not be limited by the amount of Western money that could be raised to pay salaries and purchase meeting space. There have been emergency situations where a pastored received money for medical condition, or for a short time if they were moving a new area. Western churches have given money to put a roof on a building if the Kenyans had already secured the land or built the walls of a building.

In that same vein, the U.S. gave partnership funds to the Kenyans to use as they saw best instead of dictating where the money could go. The Kenyan leadership team determined the priorities of spending.

We chose to invest in leaders as a group -- not as a single individual. I really pushed this concept based on a message Tri Robinson shared at a church planting conference. Often times, God will have one group of people start a movement and then raise up a leader after the fact.

National leaders had strong coaching from the international partners over a five-year period. The international partners helped guide the national team in leadership, budgeting, training and setting priorities.

As a result of the releasing of Kenya as an AVC, I was asked by Mark Fields to lead a team called The Learning Community, where we search out the principles that are working in modern missions and communicate them to Vineyard churches. We are also tasked with finding the practices that do not work and let Vineyard churches know how to avoid them. This newsletter is one of the tools we will use to do just that.