What if we don’t get enough money?
This entirely depends on how much the shortfall is. There may be delays to our timetable. However, so long as we can purchase the building we will do so, but may have to delay the renovations until funds become available.
What if more than we need is given and pledged?
What a wonderful scenario this would put us in! We would carry on with our plans and anything beyond this would be allocated towards new ministry initiatives for Vineyard House in future years.
What if a disaster happened which prevented us doing this project?
There is always the possibility the project could be delayed, in which case we would persevere. However, if it became either impossible to proceed or perhaps due to some major unforeseen circumstance no longer sensible to proceed, then the money in the “STEPS fund” at that point would be saved until another suitable project arose.
If you want to reclaim your gift in this scenario then you can do so (apart from the 10% which we give away). Other than in this situation (being unable to purchase Vineyard House), money which has been given cannot be returned.
Who will know what I’m giving?
Our finance team (Adrian Howe & Anne Button) will be responsible for counting and processing gifts and keeping records.
David & Alison acknowledge every gift but will not know the amount. When it comes to STEPS giving we feel that it protects the pastoral relationship to keep the amount confidential. This is between you and the Lord, and we want no one to feel pressurised to perform for anyone.
We are just a church – does anyone here actually know what they are doing?
Good question and fortunately the answer is, “yes”. The Lord has brought a number of people to us who are experts in business and property. We have chartered surveyors, project managers, chartered accountants, architects, financial advisers and a property lawyer. Although we rely on God for wisdom and guidance – especially for the times when we need to take steps of faith – we can be sure he has provided good people to help us make wise decisions.
Being a church has enabled us to negotiate very competitive fees with the professionals with whom we need to work and yet we are being taken seriously because of our team and their connections.
We have appointed Phil Hicks (who has run his own project-based business, property developing) as our project manager and he has pulled together a team who are overseen by our Board of Trustees. They are making use of expertise both within the church and by appointment of professionals as required.
Our Business Manager, Adrian Howe, has secular and church experience in this sort of project. Anne Button oversaw the first major STEPS campaign. The trustees all have high level business and project management experience.
Why are we giving away 10%?
As we have done in the past, we will give away 10% of whatever we receive. One basic principle of handling money is to give away the "first slice of the pie", to honour God's generosity and goodness to us by giving back to Him the first and best portion. This applies to STEPS too - the church should not just receive from others' generosity but be generous itself too. So, once we know what the pledges amount to we will give everyone an opportunity to help us decide how to give 10% of the total away.
We usually give to Leeds-based charities and ministries which work with children, young people and families. An important result of doing this is that it will keep our focus on generosity and ministry, not on buildings.
We also do this for our regular giving too, not just STEPS. Giving for everyone starts with an acknowledgement that everything we have has come from God in the first place. So if the church receives gifts we honour God by “tithing” 10% of that away to causes outside the Leeds Vineyard. Handling money is a spiritual matter and there is something about honouring God with giving that releases us to receive so much more than if we try and keep as much as we can.
Can I change my pledge?
Yes. If for any reason you wish to alter your pledge (for example, you have an unexpected change to your financial situation) then you can increase or decrease your commitment. We just ask that you inform us in writing or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and give us as much warning as possible so that we can adjust our expectations!
What if I’m reading this after the 2 July 2017?
The 2nd July is simply our internal deadline so that on the 9th July we can announce that our vision can become a reality! However, we want everyone who would like to participate to feel very much a part of our on-going journey, by contributing to all that the Lord has called us to as a church. So please feel free to join in.
Why should we buy when we can rent?
There are several reasons:
There is a shortage of large property in Headingley. We think this building is a God-given opportunity to be grasped with both hands;
This building isn’t available to rent and so buying is the only option;
Buying gives us a more secure future and allows us to adapt the building to suit our purposes;
We are committed to Headingley for the very long-term so it makes spiritual, financial and psychological sense to commit to owning bricks and mortar if possible;
Renting is an ongoing commitment which we would bequeath to the next generation, how much better to leave a wholly-owned building!Renting gives us some flexibility as things change and grow. But just as people may start out in adult life renting a flat or a house, eventually, when they feel settled, they prefer to buy. They can make changes to the property without asking the landlord and when they come to sell they can get some of that money back perhaps. They are investing in bricks and mortar and should have something to show for it at the end of the day rather than just pouring rent down the plughole. Their future in the property is secure; the landlord can’t kick them out or raise the rent.
There are challenges to buying, we have to raise and use significant funds up front. We may also have trouble selling should we need to do so. We will also need to maintain the building.
We have discussed this at length amongst the leaders and trustees. We have also taken professional advice. In years to come it will mean that the church will have an asset that supports its Kingdom work rather than paying a rent or lease that just costs money for ever and ever.
Is this a reasonable price to pay for St Michael’s Hall (AKA Vineyard House)
At the time when we heard the Lord say that it was time to move to Headingley and then to buy a building it sounded odd because there are very few buildings for sale in Headingley. Freehold property quickly gets snapped up by property developers – often for converting to MO (student accommodation).
St Michael’s Hall is not on the open market and the owner has been happy to deal with us informally because he prefers the prospect of seeing the building put to use in the way we would use it rather than being converted into flats by a developer. This is a major plus – a real gift from God.
We instructed a formal valuation report from Carter Towler who confirmed what we thought – that the price is well below what it would obtain on the open market but higher than what the bricks and mortar would fetch in a different place. However, freehold land in Headingley is deemed very desirable and although the future is always uncertain when it comes to property, it is not unreasonable to expect this building to retain a high value for the foreseeable future.
What is so good about this building?
There are several features which make St Michael’s Hall an outstanding opportunity:
Location. Although not on the main road, the building is on a thoroughfare across the centre of Headingley. It is the mid-point of the old triangle that makes up the heart of Headingley (since pre-Doomsday records!) between St Michael’s Church, Headingley Methodist Church and where South Parade Baptist Church now stands;
Price. As discussed above. This seems to be an excellent price for such a useful and well located building;
Size. St Michael’s Hall is one of the largest standalone buildings in Headingley with approximately 647 sq metres (4,762 sq feet) of useable space. The ground floor is in good condition and useable immediately for some purposes (offices mainly). The Top floor is a large well-maintained hall which could be used for many purposes and could probably accommodate up to 200 people. There is a side building which we would probably demolish and replace;
Condition. Some of the building is ready for immediate use but most will need renovation. However, the current owner has kept the building in generally good order (he has recently installed a new boiler);
History. St Michael’s Hall was originally built for community use (much as we would use it) and fulfilled that function for some 100 years before being converted to business use;
Alternatives. If we want to win Headingley for the kingdom and become great neighbours in this community we will need property in the middle of Headingley. We’ve looked and looked and there really is very little around. But in fact it is hard to imagine anything better than St Michael’s Hall – it really is something of a miracle that this is available to us at this time.
What are the main problems with St Michael’s Hall?
Car parking. As with the rest of Headingley, car-parking is in short supply. Our plan would be to have a strategy which encouraged the use of public transport and develop ministries within walking distance;
Renovations: This is a plus and a minus. On the one hand we want to be able to adapt the building to accommodate our vision. On the other hand we don’t want to have to spend lots of money on a wreck. As it happens the building is in generally good condition and whilst some of it needs rebuilding, much is ready for immediate use (unless we decide to change the layout significantly);
Age. It is an old building (1884) and was not built with the internet age in mind nor with ecological forethought! Nevertheless, it is eminently adaptable.
Is the site safe?
The building is in a mixed residential and light commercial area with lots of footfall. It will be no more or less safe than Headingley Methodist Church or the Heart Centre nearby. As much as we are permitted by planning regulations it will be well lit and secure.
Why now? Why the hurry? Why don’t we wait?
When the Lord prompts you to do something, by and large a good rule of thumb is to get on with it. We can rely on him to hold us back if we are rushing. We have actually held back and made cautious progress, step by step. We have not over-committed ourselves at any point, so if we feel that we should wait we can do so.
On the other hand, things have progressed in such a way as to make it clear that we should press on in obedience to the Lord’s instruction last year.
In practical terms we are also very limited by space – both in our office and storage and also in our capacity on Sunday mornings. The church will not be able to grow if we can’t find space to let our activities and children and young people find space, a better home.
Will time or space in the office be allocated to certain groups or people?
In principle space will be available to anybody from Leeds Vineyard for church use.
In practice we will give priority to our 7 Rocks, so that may mean that many different people make use of the building. We will develop its use carefully so that we don’t end up restricted for our own church vision-based use.
What if we outgrow it?
That would be great. We anticipate that the building will eventually be “full” and we may need to buy/develop other property (if the Lord helps us find something again). We can’t anticipate ever selling this building.
Our vision is for Leeds Vineyard to make full and vibrant use of both Headingley Methodist Church and Vineyard House (as St Michael’s Hall will be known) for the foreseeable future and to see God at work in both places.
When can we start using it?
Check out the timetable in a separate article. Our current aim is to start using the building in 2019.
What will it cost?
The purchase price will be around £625,000. Fees, taxes and renovations will have to be added to that. To do everything we want to do and to do it really well could take the overall cost up to as much as £1,000,000. Note that we intend to honour the Lord’s generosity and celebrate by giving away 10% of the money however much is raised through the sacrificial giving of the church.
Where does the money for this project come from?
We have reserves of about £80,000. That means we need at least another £600,000 (to cover additional costs, legal fees etc). Although it would need a wonderful move of God in our hearts and a high level of sacrificial giving we would like to keep our mortgage borrowing down by raising £333,000 (gross). That would in turn mean that we could give away over £33,300. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful testimony to God’s grace and generosity?
There are no grants or central funds we can call on so it falls to us, this community of faith called Leeds Vineyard, to give and give generously, asking God to help us. He may release funds from elsewhere, who knows? We don’t, so in the first instance it is down to Him and us.
That is rather a lot isn’t it?
Yes, it will be a challenge. In fact, without God’s help, it won’t be possible. That’s good because we do need to know that this project is His plan for us. However, we also have to be careful and wise. Proverbs 19:20 says Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. And Proverbs 20:18 says Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.
So we have taken advice all along the way.
And we are encouraged by fellow pastors in Leeds to be ambitious for what God may do through us to grow the church in Headingley. We are inspired by what Bridge Community Church, Gateway and Emmanuel Baptist have all done in recent times to make big property commitments into Leeds – with awesome results.
Our trustees, all who have significant experience in business have said that whilst definitely being a really big step of faith, this is not reckless financial management and presents a realistic opportunity.
What will this take from me?
It will probably take the biggest personal financial sacrifice that most of us have ever made. It is certainly the biggest financial risk that the church has taken and carries with it a chance of failure too.
But, when the Lord calls us to something the bible says in Hebrews 10:38, My righteous one will live by faith. If he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.
We seem to have a God given and inspired opportunity to take a major step forward in the journey of the Leeds Vineyard. We should walk forward with Him and play our part in his plan both prayerfully and willing to take a step of faith.
How do I work out how much to give?
Someone said, Nothing great was ever achieved by people giving what they could afford. And there is a lot of truth in that. We believe that we are approaching a time when God wants us to grow in the way we follow Jesus. In taking these steps of obedience we can expect to see Him teach us amazing things.
If we believe that what He has called us to give is His idea, then we can also believe that He is able to get the money together if we respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
This is not an ordinary budgeting exercise. Rather than try and work out how much you can give from your cash flow or savings; go before the Lord and ask Him how much He wants you to give.
As they say, Aim to give what’s right, not what’s left. Often when we do this sort of thing, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to us, a thought, or in this case, an amount of money jumps to mind. That may be what He is asking you to give or it may just be what you are comfortable giving. Keep praying and seeking God until you are convinced that the amount you’ve decided on is also the amount He’s asking of you.
It may well be that this amount is way more than you can imagine being able to afford. That would be great because it means that you are trusting God to provide for your needs in an extra-ordinary way. And He will.
Some will delve into their savings or sell their investments. Others may use an inheritance or sell their second car or second home. Some may forego a foreign holiday or commit to giving sacrificially each month for the next few years. It’s between you and the Lord.
What is expected of me?
We don’t have any expectations of what you should give. Yes there will be sacrifices but there should also be freedom and joy. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, Each person should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Every single contribution is valuable. Whether that is £10 or £100 or £1,000 or £10,000 or more. If you give what the Lord has asked you to give it is just the right amount to add up to what He plans to do through us. The important thing is to give what he has asked – no more and no less – he knows our hearts and circumstances and the sacrifices we will need to make.
Who will own the property and what happens if Leeds Vineyard fails?
Leeds Vineyard operates within the larger, umbrella charity, the Wharfedale Vineyard Christian Fellowship. It is likely that this will own the building although we may transfer ownership into the Vine or another linked entity if it makes better business sense to operate the property separately from our main charitable activities.
In the highly unlikely event that the Wharfedale Vineyard were to come to an end, the building would be sold, any mortgage paid off and the proceeds, along with other assets, used to further the Kingdom of God in the same way as we have always sought to. The trustees at the time would probably distribute funds either to Vineyard Churches UK and/or other churches.
What if something happens to David or Alison Flowers
David & Alison have no intention of leaving Leeds Vineyard. The time may come when they hand over leadership to someone else but there are no plans yet in place for that eventuality.
The Senior Pastors of a Vineyard are not appointed but recognised. I.e. no one has the right to force them to resign or leave. If something goes wrong, one of two things happen: either Vineyard Churches UK withdraw the right to the name Vineyard from the Senior Pastors and/or the people in the church vote with their feet and leave. Their legal employers are the trustees and they can make the Senior Pastors redundant.
If there were a forced change John & Debby Wright of the Trent Vineyard (our personal overseers) and Andrew & Rosie McNeil of Birmingham Vineyard (our Regional Overseers) would work with the trustees to find leaders to replace David & Alison from within Leeds Vineyard or from elsewhere in the Vineyard.
It will probably be necessary for the church to set up insurance policies on David and Alison so that in the event of their death or serious illness any mortgage could be repaid.
Is property more important than people?
By no means. Jesus died to save people not premises or organisations. Buildings are just facilities which help us to do what the Lord has called us to get on and do. We have a big vision for what He has laid out for us, buying a building is simply an enabling next step.
We will resist becoming building focussed but we will use any tool we can find, including a building, to get on with the kingdom business to which we have been called – compassion and mercy, worship and prayer.
How can I pray?
That God’s will is done and that we will play our part;
That no one else will try and buy the building;
That sufficient funds will be raised;
That God will protect and bless the church at this time;
That God will bless the various people working on this project:
Phil Hicks. Our Project Manager;
David and Alison Flowers, as they lead;
Elizabeth Wilson of Wrigleys, our solicitors;
Our soon to be chosen mortgage lender;
Nigel Tapp, agent for the vendor;
Jim and Jill Harris, the vendor.
Can we do this?
Yes, because the Lord is in it. Yes, if we are willing to pay the price and take the risk. Yes, if we keep close to him and take the next STEP He is asking of us.