Tuesday, 14 September 2010

5 things I love about the Vineyard

I spent three years in Vineyard Churches in both Birmingham and Nottingham as a student. Naturally I will always have a soft spot for them.

For several years it felt like Charismatic worship was either Kendrick or Vineyard. It is not overstating it to say that the Vineyard movement had (and in some ways still has) a huge impact on much of what we know as modern worship. It is part of their legacy to the whole Church that needs to be really honoured.

You cannot go far in the UK Church before you bump into someone who was deeply affected by the ministry of John Wimber. If you look at massive success stories like Holy Trinity Brompton or St Andrew's Chorley Wood somewhere along the line a bearded preacher from California with a desire to experience the power of the Holy Spirit had influenced them. You can see hallmarks of his ministry right the way across the Charismatic wing of the Church in all denominations.

Every Vineyard Church I know have mercy ministries right at their heart. Trent Vineyard in Nottingham has grown from a small group to a Church of over 1500 in 15 years, and right the way through they have been loving people Jesus loves, through ministry to the poor. What a fantastic witness The Arches is. I think that makes God smile.

I like their risk taking. I like the way creativity is encouraged. I like the way arty types can express themselves. The boxes of what evangelical worship and interaction looks like have smoother walls in the Vineyard.

I like going to Vineyard Churches. The atmosphere is relaxed. You get american style "Donuts and Coffee". You don't feel judged. Somewhere in the value system of the movement is a desire to chill out and enjoy God. That sparks something in me. A busy meeting can involve resting in God. I like that. Spiritual gifts happen but nothing is forced. It is all quite calm, quite reflective. If I ever burn out and need a place to relax and get myself together and be with God I would probably look for a Vineyard.

As an aside, and cheekily hiding number 6 in a footnote: their conferences tend to be brilliant, and at times have been very important for me.

All in all, the Vineyard have an important legacy, and a key role to play in the future of the "New Church" scene in the UK. Beyond their boundaries the blessing they have been to the Church is far bigger than they are as a movement, including their involvement with stuff like New Wine.

1 comment:

Pauline said...

Good blog,Dave- in fact a great - and enjoyable series and food for thought.

This Vineyard Church sounds like a church that would suit me, as an arty type who likes creativity and would appreciate a relaxing atmosphere.

I often wonder if it isn't just a case of a partiucular church for a particular Christian, if there isn't a case for feeling "at home" in different churches at different times in your life.

I know we need loyalty to our church and building a community to encourage each other so we can go out and reach others but sometimes perhaps we need our batteries re-charged in a different way, or a new vision to enable us to grow.

As a Christian who has, at different times in my journey, has had the privilege of worshipping with Christian friends in many different churches, and as long as they uphold the central message of the Gospel and are faithful to Christ, then they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I find I sometimes do need different experiences; sometimes I feel the need to be with lively people all dancing and praising and being really joyful before the Lord. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of that joy and it's wonderful.
Other times, I feel the need to withdraw a bit and be quiet and meditative and "wait before the Lord". Then I appreciate the need for the quietness of, for instance, a private chapel in the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, or a time of quiet conversation with another Christian I might meet there.

I once had a lovely chat with some young people wo were giving out leaflets to Cathedral visitors, inviting them into a real relationship with Christ- doing a great job there!

I know there's a danger of acting on a whim- "I feel like I need to be stimulated by experiencing lively worship and challenged by prophetic voices" OR "I just want to be quiet and meditative and listen for God's voice for direction and it helps to be in a place with candles that has been saturated in prayer over so many years."
But- if it results in growth, and if it results in respect for true Christians of different sorts of churches- then surely it is valid?
When I first "saw the light" I joined a Pentecostal church and became dissmissive of people in the traditional Churches who weren't OPENLY charismatic.

In fact, I was surprised to find that God "spoke" to me more often, when I was in my loocal church- via a scripture that was part of the set service in the prayer book, a word from the vicar's sermon- or a really strange happening, that I knew came from God.

In fact one of the first signs I had that I had moved from darkness to light was when the old scriptural words of the book of common prayer (that I had dissmissed as traditional stuff recited without thought) came "alive" for me- as if words from the Bible had become highlighted and were "speaking to me"- "Look, haven't you realised before- this IS the word of God!"

So I felt my main base must needs be my local Anglican church, that I'd been called to serve there, in my limited way.
Yes it has -its shortcomings (and most churches have them, surely?)
Also, I was HUMBLED to find that some of the very people I'd dissmissed as "churchgoers" and "Not proper born-again Christians" were alive with the fruits of the spirit and further on with God than I was.

I think, from time to time, we may actually NEED to worship with others of a different denomination. And you find, not only a new growth and a fresh vision,but an ability to recognise quite quickly the ones who are true brothers and sisters.

Also- don't forget that "mere churchgoers" can and do often move into a real relationship with Christ. They must be seekers even to be there. I was one of them, once.

Thanks for that, Dave. I am looking forward to the rest!