The Distinctives of the Vineyard

There are many tribes or denominations within the greater Global Church, some of them old and some new… Every group is important as they reflect the multifaceted mystery of the Almighty. We, I, need the entire body of Christ (i.e. Church) to help guide me and direct me down the path of life.

Yet sometimes it is nice to find a smaller tribe of people in which you can walk… a group that shares common values and whose heart breaks with the same intensity over the same issues. It is, as Jason Clark recently wrote, to be apart of a denomination in which you can find accountability and support. And the group that I belong to – the group that shares the cries of my heart – is the Vineyard. It isn’t the ‘cats meow’ for everyone nor does it claim to be the best. But it is the group for me!

Recently I was browsing a church planting forum when I saw a post by Michael Gatlin, National Church Planting Director, about the distinctives of the Vineyard. As I read through the list that he got from John Mumford, Director of Vineyard UK, my heart just jumped! This was it! This is why I call the Vineyard home and why I love my tribe.

So, being a blogger, I would like to share with you all this list of distinctives on what makes the Vineyard Vineyard. (underlines emphasis are mine)

The main and the plain.

  • What do what the scriptures say. The Bible is our gold standard, plumb line
  • Confident and thoughtful in the teaching of the bible in small and large groups the whole counsel of God, the good & easy bits and the difficult bits. We are a people who are wrestling with what the bible says, and how does it apply to our situations.
  • Are our people reading and looking up stuff in the bible? Get into the book yourself and push your people to do the same!
  • We’ve only really had the book in this form for 400 years and we tend to take it for granted.
  • We minister who we are, people impacted by the kingdom in our real lives. Taking it in and giving it away.

The now and the not yet.

  • This is crucial and foundational to who we are.
  • Encouraging a lifestyle that expects the kingdom of God to be demonstrated time and again everywhere we are. We are first and foremost a kingdom of god movement. Our central theological motif. It is not nearly a proposition to believe, rather a way to live.
  • This is a theology that empower and at the same time sustained us through difficulties. It keeps us from the triumpfatalism of Pentecostalism on the one hand, and from the cecassionism of conservative evangelicalism on the other.
  • We are unashamed and unembarrassed that power and suffering go hand in hand. This teaching helps life make sense, it takes my breath away.

Come Holy Spirit.

  • The triune God is eager to be known by all.
  • This is a central prayer of our liturgy. This is a part of everything we do. if you do it more than once, it counts.
  • We do not believe that God isn’t present without the prayer, but it is the deep cry of our heart that we need it now. Our “epilicleses” is not to call down the Holy Spirit down on the bread and the wine, but upon ourselves.

Worshippers of God and rescuers of men.

  • This is loving God and loving people. This is worship and compassion. These are the pillars, the legs we stand on.
  • Worship is not to be about God as much as its to be “to” God. The central means for nurturing our experience of God is found in worship, corporate and private worship, we want our expression and experience of worship to be an encounter with God that is life transforming.
  • The worship leaders job is to lead people into the presence of God—encounter and engage with God so much so that people go out of here different.
  • And then we become instruments of God’s healing power leaning towards the poor, the sick, the outcast, the broken—clothe the naked and feed the hungry.
  • Luke 4: Preaching good news to the poor – stories of people coming to Christ in the normal life of Vineyard churches. Recovery of sight for the blind – stories. God’s love being expressed in tangible ways—words and actions
  • “The Christian style of life is marked by an extraordinary combination of detachment and concern. The Christian will care less for the world and at the same time care more for it. He will not lose his heart to it, but he may well lose his life for it.” -Bishop John Robinson
  • The gospel affect the whole range of life.
  • To remember the poor has been a cardinal cry of our hearts.
  • Honest before the Lord and disclosing before one another.

Everyone gets to play.

  • We do not have an elite. Everyone can do the works of Jesus.
  • Demonstrating the priesthood of believers. Who are the ministers of this church? “We are!”
  • Men and women get to equally live out their calling as agents of God’s kingdom.
  • This is how we do ministry.
  • Others allow women to lead ministry across the oceans, in poor countries, but not to us. Silly. Ministry is not based on gender.

Come as you are, but don’t stay as you are.

  • We love to create an environment where people can belong before they believe. We clean the fish after they’ve been caught. This is a twist on the women caught in adultery.
  • God welcomes us just as we are but he isn’t content to leave us where he found us.
  • We value healing and journey. The basic laboratory of knowing God is in the Christian community, the church.

Naturally Supernatural.

  • Pure, unvarnished Christianity. The absence of hype, the absence of manipulation; and simply allowing the Spirit of God to do what the Spirit of God does so well.
  • We must continue to humble ourselves and get out of the way so that God can be God. We don’t need to make up stories or hype people. We simply tell it how it is.
  • If there is a choice to be made, we will always go opt the understatement and let God do the rest.
  • We are unwilling to hype our ministry.

Equipping the saints.

  • Just as easily called this one, “Doing the stuff.”
  • Training and equipping God’s people to do what Jesus did.
  • Are you training people? Whatever area you are leading, do you have men and women to whom you are passing it on?
  • Ephesians 4, training God’s people, the idea is a fitting together, the words used to communicate the setting of broken bones.
  • Putting things in order, restoring, making complete— you can only do this if everyone’s involved.

Plant churches that will plant churches.

  • Within our own culture and countries and with every other people group we can find.

Leaders who walk with a limp.

  • We want leaders who know their own weaknesses and failures and…
  • The beginning phrase Paul uses to describe leaders to Timothy is that they must be “above reproach.”
  • Servant leadership.
  • Functional rather than positional leadership.
  • We are leaders who are genuinely pleased when other are preferred and honored and and promoted above us. We are not threatened by this.
  • Insecurity in leaders is the worst problem. We want to be constantly seeking advice and counsel, asking what we could do better, how we might be hindering the growth of what God’s doing, etc.
  • A 360 degree feedback loop is threatening and extremely helpful.

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