What is the “Best”?

A few weeks ago on DeepChurch we discussed Tri Robinson’s papers “Take the Best and Go” about the current state and future of the Vineyard Movement. Previously, we looked at whether or not the Vineyard is still a center-set movement. Today I would like to ask a simple question: what is the “best”?

In a lot of ways this is a loaded question as I’m sure everyone within the Vineyard has their concept of what is the “best.” Tri answers this question in the first of three papers:

“Some saw us as a movement of signs and wonders, some as a prophetic movement, some as a church planting or church growth movement. Still others viewed us as an innovative, evangelistic movement, and in later years a movement of social justice – compassion and mercy. As for me, it’s all Kingdom stuff, and because of it I see it all as being the “best.” In the end, the best is ALL of the Jesus we see in the gospels and as interpreted for the churches by the letters.”

Along these lines, I would like to suggest that the “best” of the Vineyard Movement is nothing less then the ability to live in the tension.

Currently there are many organizations and movements that focus on worship, compassion, signs/wonders, church planting, etc. The unique thing about the Vineyard is that God taught us how to live in the tension of all these movements.

We have sought to live as “Empowered Evangelicals” – taking the ‘best’ of both the Evangelical and Charismatic worlds. We have sought to live between the times – realizing that the victory of God is here today, yet at the same time realizing that we are called to endure to the end through the sufferings of this world. We have sought to hear the voice of God like the prophetic movements while acknowledging that we are fallen beings who mess up and don’t always hear correctly. We have sought to love the unlovable and welcome the outcast; all the while knowing that it will open us to attacks from both our family and our enemies. We have also embraced tension of both the spiritual and material world – the scholarly and the practice.

A few years ago the USA National Board of the Vineyard set out to redefine the values of the Vineyard Movement. They took all our values and boiled them down to five:

  • Kingdom Theology & Practice
  • Culturally Relevant Mission
  • Compassionate Ministry
  • Reconciling Community
  • Experiencing God

I would like to suggest that all five of these flow out of one: Kingdom Theology & Practice.

Furthermore, I would like to suggest that it is our value and focus on Kingdom Theology and Practice that allows us to live in the tension. It is the underlining foundation to why we do what we do. It is because of the “here and not yet” that we empower the laity to do the works of the Kingdom in the streets. It is because of our Kingdom Theology that we pray for the sick day after day after day – even when we don’t see anything happening. It is because our focus on the Kingdom of God that we see the lame walk and hear the voice of God calling across the landscape of this fallen world. It is because of our Kingdom Theology that welcome people to join us in our conferences, our churches, our homes even though they may not agree with us or are not going the direction we are going.

If we are going to choose the “best” and go, then I say that we choose the Kingdom Theology that underlines so much of our practice and lives. Let us embrace the tension; welcome the tension; live and thrive in the tension.

Is it easy? NO! But then, Jesus never said it was going to be easy. He just said that He would be with us each step of the way. What more do we need?