March Reflections

For many years, Riverside Church has been prayerfully considering the benefits of being connected to a larger church family. This hope was communicated to Keely and I when we became the new Lead Pastors in 2016.

As many of you know, we were Vineyard pastors in Birmingham before we moved here, and the Vineyard movement is the church family that we’d been part of since 1989. When God called us to come to Riverside, we laid down this family for the call to lead this church. However, as we have journeyed over the last year with our Senior Leaders, Trustees and wider leadership team, it has become increasingly apparent that God is inviting us to re-establish a connection with the Vineyard movement, so that we can find a family home for Riverside Church.

There is a strong alignment of values between us and the Vineyard and we believe that becoming part of the Vineyard movement is the next step in helping our growth and maturity as a local church. Our hope is that this transition will be completed by the summer with an official Adoption Service on a Sunday morning. As we move forward, there are a few key points to consider.

Nothing much will change for us as a church in the sense that we are already expressing the values that Vineyard hold dear. The only “legal” part of our adoption will be the licencing of the Vineyard name for our use. We will still be called Riverside Church, but you will see appear on our website and paperwork.

We will be part of a wider relational network which will give support to the church and accountability for us as leaders. We will have access to conferences, training and speakers. We will also be part of the network of Vineyards in the Kent Area – The Bay Vineyard, Canterbury Vineyard, Ashford Vineyard and Medway Vineyard.

It is important to recognise that the Vineyard is not a hierarchical denomination. Every Vineyard church is unique and is free to express the values however they want to. In essence, no one is going to come and tell us “what to do” when we become a Vineyard church.

There are so many great resources for you to look at so please do visit the website for more information:

If you have any questions please come and chat to us, speak to anyone from SLT or Trust Board or ask your small group leader.

Every blessing,

Simon Bateson – Lead Pastor