The Story of Vintage Faith Church
An extensive 2003 study of churches in Santa Cruz County revealed some staggering figures—90% of people in the community were not part of a local church. When it came to college students and high-school students, that percentage increased to 96%!
Despite the presence of many thriving churches in the county, the lack of impact most of them were having on younger generations was alarming. It was this startling reality that moved us to start a new missional church that could bring about much needed change. Our excitement grew as we envisioned the incredible influence a church designed uniquely to reach and disciple the next generation of youth, college, and young families could have in Santa Cruz.
Vintage Faith Church is designed to specifically connect with the emerging culture in Santa Cruz County. We have distinct values and a unique style and philosophy of ministry that we hope would connect with those who would normally never consider Christianity or ever want to be part of a church community. We desire to go back to the “vintage” values that Jesus spoke about, rather than being trapped by what has often become known as stagnant “organized” religion.
In the beginning…
During the mid 1990’s, at a local church called Santa Cruz Bible, the high-school ministry was growing to several hundred high-schoolers. As the high school ministry staff saw the immense possibilities of engaging with the next generation in Santa Cruz, their heart grew to include college-age and young adults. A young adult ministry was then launched by this group of leaders, and God grew it to 800-1,000 weekly attenders. The philosophy driving this ministry whole-heartedly embraced the arts and aimed to strategically think through how next generation values and culture influenced approaches to leadership, mission and worship. As this young adult ministry grew, it became clear that it’s philosophy was not only engaging youth and college-age, but in fact matched the ethos of the Santa Cruz culture at-large. From this, the idea of a church plant was conceptualized.
A new church is born
Because of the desire to see future generations reached, Santa Cruz Bible Church commissioned a core team to plant a new church. In 2004, Vintage Faith Church launched. We chose the name “Vintage Faith Church” as we wanted to reflect the “vintage” values of the early church and teachings of Jesus.
For the first year and a half, we met on the campus at Santa Cruz Bible Church on Sunday nights. As the church grew, we realized that we needed an additional Sunday morning worship gathering especially for families with children. We also began to realize our desire to be on the west side of Santa Cruz as close to downtown and UCSC (University of California Santa Cruz) as possible. We wanted to find a space to launch a coffeehouse/music venue/art gallery that would also be part of the life of the church and open to the public (this dream would eventually become The Abbey Coffee, Art & Music Lounge, which opened in 2008).
The move to Mission Street
While scouting out downtown locations for a coffee/music/art venue and approaching churches located on the west side to possibly rent space and hold additional worship gatherings, we began a conversation with First Presbyterian Church. They were a small church in a very vintage 1938 brick building, situated at one of the busiest intersections in town. We discovered that First Presbyterian Church was already very familiar with us and most of their leadership had even attended our worship gatherings. They were an amazing group of mission-hearted people who generously invited us to use their space.
For a new church, this was felt to be an incredible answer to prayer, to have a place to meet right in the area of town we had hoped to be located in. So in 2006, we relocated over to the Mission Street building. It was soon felt that the common heart that Vintage Faith and First Presbyterian had for God and mission was so strong, that we joined together as one church in 2008.
The Mission Continues
It has been a wonderful adventure so far, and in some ways, it feels like we are just beginning. We will continue to focus on seeing the next generation experience the grace, love, and joy of knowing Jesus. Yet at the same time, accomplishing this mission involves older generations mentoring and passing the faith down to the younger. We also value having so many young families as part of our church, allowing us to be a multi-generational church with a heart for Santa Cruz.