To bring the incredible life of Jesus Christ to the lost and the broken in the west side of Cincinnati.
WHAT Is distinctive about the vineyard?
Today, there are more than 2,400 Vineyard churches around the world in 95 countries – and we’re growing. It’s hard to imagine that such a large group of churches exist because of a bunch of hippies...but it does. God is funny that way.
In the late 1960s, there was a growing population of people who were desperate to experience God. They’d been seeking answers to the big questions of life through all the drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll they could handle -- but they still came up empty. People wanted to know and walk with God. Ultimately, this led to what is know as The Jesus Movement.
Out of this "Jesus Movement" the first Vineyard Church was birthed in 1974.
The Vineyard Movement name was developed from these two scriptures:
Isaiah 27:2-3 “Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
THE MAIN THING AND THE PLAIN THING
The idea of “The main and the plain” is to keep things simple. A plumb-bob or plummet is a weight with a pointed tip that’s suspended from a string to get a vertical line reference, or plumb-line. We have a spiritual plumb-line as well. It allows us to ask the simple question, “What does the bible say?” -- We have a reference point in Jesus. We don’t have to wonder about how Jesus would love people or treat people...the bible tells us. Vineyard churches stick to the MAIN thing that is seen PLAINLY in the scriptures. This allows us to focus on the majors instead of majoring on the minors. The majors are Christ’s love for us and why He died on the cross for us. The details don’t matter for salvation.
THE ALREADY AND THE NOT YET
Our current world is ruled by Satan (John 12:31) and yet the fingerprints of God seem to be found all over the place. For centuries, bible scholars struggled to explain how signs of the Kingdom of God (Heaven) were popping up in increasing occurrences. These signs and wonders were thought to be reserved for the “end times”, but this continued activity of the Holy Spirit couldn’t be ignored. To explain this phenomenon,
N.T. Wright coined the term Inaugurated Eschatology, which pointed to a new understanding of the earth we live in.
This “Kingdom Theology”, as it’s often called, describes the belief that the last days were set in motion during Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth, but not in its full expression. There are present and future aspects to it. It’s ALREADY here, but it’s NOT YET all the way here. This helps us understand why miracles take place sometimes, but not all the time. It also allows us to minister to people with expectation that the Kingdom of God will break through more often as we take territory away from the enemy. When we pray, we are inviting the future Kingdom to burst into our present Kingdom. Spiritual Warfare exists as these two alternate Kingdoms collide with one another. Jesus didn’t just bring a message that the powers of the future Kingdom were breaking into the present age...He demonstrated it.
We too are called to demonstrate the Kingdom of God and bring Heaven to earth.
COME HOLY SPIRIT
The Triune God is eager to be known by all, and people are hungry to experience all parts of God...not just the forgiveness of Jesus. We desire to “do the stuff” and see the various manifestations of the Holy Spirit within our midst. If the Vineyard were to have a formula for everything it does, praying “Come Holy Spirit” would be step #1.
We do not believe that God isn't present without that prayer, but it is the deep cry of our heart that we want it now...that we need it now. Our method is not to call down the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine, but upon ourselves. This prayer opens the doorway for God to do whatever He wants to do. It’s a relieving prayer for those of us praying, because we don’t need to know or try to control what God is doing. When we hear the phrase “God showed up” we can recognize that it means the Holy Spirit was welcomed in and that He moved freely.
WORSHIPPERS OF GOD AND RESCUERS OF MEN
Our worship isn’t to be about God as much as it's to be "to" God. The central means for nurturing our experience of God is found in worship. We want worship experiences to be encounters with God that transform people’s lives. The role of the Worship Leader is to lead people into the presence of God -- that they would encounter and engage with God so much so that they would leave different than they came in. What would be different about them? Having connected with the heart of the Father, they would now see people through the lens that God sees them. With this empowerment, we can become instruments of His Kingdom to set the world right. We will lean towards the poor, the sick, the outcast, the broken -- clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Bishop John Robinson wrote, "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."
Upward always leads to outward. When we worship, it’s as if we get to sit at a huge feast of celebration cheering, “Hear, Hear!” to our King. And it’s at that feast that we notice there are empty seats at the table. Worship leads us to invite others to fill those empty seats and take part in the feast together. True worship helps us recognize that there are also those not worshipping Him...and it calls us to fix that unhappy ending.
EVERYONE GETS TO PLAY
The Vineyard does not have an elite tier of special ministers. Everyone can do the works of Jesus. All of us who have called on Jesus are now considered to be chosen people. In the New Testament, we are referred to as a Royal Priesthood. There is no longer the idea of a special priest...we chosen people are a priesthood. For that reason we will intentionally take the powers off of the stage and place them in the hands of the people.
If someone visits our church and asks the question, “Who are the ministers here?” -- we say “We are!”. We will do our very best to train people in biblical ways to minister to people, but we will not hinder the work God is calling them to do for His Kingdom.
COME AS YOU ARE
We love the idea of creating an environment where people can belong before they believe. You clean the fish after they’ve been caught. God invites and welcomes all of us just as we are, but He isn’t content to leave us where He found us. The saying isn’t “Stay as you are” or “Lead as you are”...it’s invitation all the way.
C.S. Lewis said “The basic laboratory of knowing God is in the Christian Community, the church.” We will strive to be that laboratory where everyone has a seat at the table.
This is pure, unvarnished Christianity. It’s 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 try not to be a part of the spiritual weirdness and showiness that often pushes people away from the power of the supernatural. If there is a choice, we will always opt for understated instead of overstated. Allow God to show off for Himself.
EQUIPPING THE SAINTS
John Wimber was famous for wondering when the church people were going to do the things that Jesus did, and that He said we could do. He asked, “When are they going to do the stuff?” The church is known as the Body of Christ, but many of the bones are broken. We are being called to set those broken bones and restore the body back to order. We can only make it complete if everyone is involved. We actively train those who are called rather than calling on those who are trained.
The Vineyard desires leaders who know their own weaknesses and don’t need to pretend to have everything together. The Lord needs to keep us on a short leash. The beginning phrase the Apostle Paul uses to describe leaders to Timothy is that they must be “above reproach”. This doesn’t mean being perfect and blameless in every way...it means not hiding our ugly secrets.
When we lay all of our cards on the table we are free to invite, advice and counsel. We can ask what we can do better or how we might be hindering the growth of what God is doing. A 360° feedback loop is scary and it’s threatening...but it’s so helpful.