What is a Vineyard Church?
John Wimber, the inspirational founder of the Vineyard Movement of churches, would answer this question by drawing a picture of a person on a piece of paper. It represents the common aspects of any Vineyard church.
Let’s start with the body: CASH
Community: This works on the basis that we all have a part to play, and we benefit from having true community around us. Imagine that we are each like a brick that can come together with other bricks to form a home, each of us essential to the overall structure.
Army: We have purpose and we’re doing it together. We’re not injuring others, but bringing healing to the areas of our communities that are broken. As an army, we have to be united and strong to keep fighting this campaign of love and peace together, especially when the wounds of life hurt.
School: God has taught us about getting a better perspective on life, which means we can live well. We are all learning together and do this in many different ways to suit our learning styles. The way we teach is not to tell people what to think but to share what we have experienced or believe to be true, encouraging each other to make up our own minds and to take our questions to God.
Hospital: We can pick up physical and psychological injuries in life, and sometimes from the most unexpected of places… even from people that know Jesus as none of us are perfect. The image of a field hospital represents those times when we need to get healed up so we can return to action. We therefore make opportunities to pray for each other and to make space for God to help us get through and get better.
The arms reach out beyond our church community, through:
Church Planting: Vineyard churches start new churches and this process is called planting. This is why it’s called the Vineyard Movement, as it’s ever changing and alive. Hope Vineyard is a church plant from Trent Vineyard in Nottingham and we are excited about the potential of seeing leaders emerge from here and go to begin new churches in new communities.
Church Renewal: The Vineyard Movement is just one part of the wider church. We don’t see ourselves as the best bit, but a particular flavour that adds something to the whole. We want our addition to encourage and support other churches and church groups (sometimes called denominations) as we together with all churches demonstrate God’s love for our world.
Jesus is at the head: When you get to know Jesus, having him at the head makes total sense. He taught those that he invested in to go and make disciples, baptise them and equip them. Jesus was an incredible role-model. Not only did he invite people to be like him, he also taught them and gave them the tools to make it happen. Most importantly he invited and still invites people to know him and in doing so discover the fullness of God.
What gives us strength to stand are two legs:
Worship: We want to live lives that please God and acknowledge him in everything. That’s worship and is our gift to God. Vineyard churches are known in particular for collectively, yet personally connecting with God through music and singing. Engaging in this form of worship leaves us changed, with a different perspective and more like the good God that he is.
Compassion: Jesus was famous for his compassion. This theme runs strongly through more than thousands of years of stories covered within Bible. Compassion motivates us into action and we will continue to look for ways to encourage each other to step into sharing whatever we can with others.
Finally, Vineyard churches stand on two things that give us a secure foundation:
The Bible: This ancient text was written by 40 or so authors who wrote in their own words, but we believe were inspired by God through his Spirit. Vineyard churches look to the Bible to reveal God’s word to humanity, and read and trust it as the ultimate authority.
The kingdom of God (or kingdom of Heaven): This concept is something Jesus spoke about regularly. It’s the activity of God in healing the brokenness in our world. He encourages us to pray for and heal the environment, relationships and to heal physically and emotionally broken people. The world remains a messy place, but we do see healing happen and hope come in ways that defy logic. Reflecting on this has caused us to believe in God who says through the Bible that one day in the future, Jesus will come back and everything will be set right.