Understanding Vineyard Churches
The Vineyard Churches are an interesting group of people. They have a over reaching emphasis on the Kingdom of God. They believe in the Kingdom but do not believe in the Kingdom Now theology that many are promoting in charismatic circles.
My understanding of the Kingdom of God comes mainly from a theologian from the 1970’s named George Elton Ladd that I believe it was also where John Wimber got his Kingdom ideal. I do know they had some type of relationship. The teaching of Ladd were all through the teaching of Signs and Wonders at Fuller by Wimber.
Who are the Vineyard Churches?
According to their booklet, Core Values & Beliefs, ” The Vineyard is a God-initiated, global movement of churches with the kingdom of God as its theological center.” What they believe makes their different is they put a stronger emphasis of the Kingdom of God than others do.
The problem that I see with this is the term “Kingdom of God” seems to mean 10 things to 10 people. However, the pursuit of knowledge concerning it is something that I see among most Vineyard churches and their pastors.
“Vineyard churches embody a praxis that includes intimate worship, actively equipping ordinary people for ministry, responding to the initiative and leading of the Holy Spirit, and joining God’s mission in the world.”
I would say that one of two things the world received from the Vineyard is their worship emphasis. They have given us so many amazing worship songs over the years that we would have never had. They really did change the worship culture of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement.
What is the role of the Vineyard Churches
They believes they they exist for the people of the churches, not the people exist for the purposes of the churches. This is very important and something that every single church in America should be reminded of and embraced. If the Church exist for people, we need to start to lead them like it really is about people, not building a big Non Profit organization.
They also have a strong emphasis on church planting and view it as doing God’s Mission. I will cover this subject later in depth. It is just important at this point as they see this as critical to their role as the Vineyard Churches.
They also place a strong emphasis on discipleship and training. It is for the purpose of sending them out as church planters. See why I believe we are doing discipleship completely wrong.
What is the vision of the Vineyard?
“We will know we have succeeded in our mission when we see thousands of churches with Vineyard theology and practices multiplied around the world – led by pastors who are theologically, practically, and spiritually equipped to pursue their unique calling to “the greater glory of God and the well-being of people.”
I am not sure what I think about the aim of success being more churches. Having more dysfunctional locations is just more locations of dysfunction. I am not saying that Vineyard churches are like that but that is the concern I have about church planting for the sake of church planting. To be clear, the Great Commission is not to plant churches but to preach the gospel to the ends of the gospel. Jesus never told us to plant churches.
I do not believe that this will be the success of the harvest. I also view this is a departure from the emphasis on revival that John Wimber had in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The Vineyard was all about revival and miracle ministry in the 1990’s. A clear departure from that has happened since.
Note: This is a series on the Vineyard Churches, their values and their beliefs.
My Theological Disclaimer
To be quite honest, it is very limited and I was in the probably the least “Vineyard Vineyard” of them all. I was a teenager when Kansas City Fellowship become Metro Vineyard for a few years. After the mess in Toronto, we become Metro Christian Fellowship after we left the movement over difference of opinion of revival.
We always had a little different point of view on things than many other in the Vineyard. We were kinda the “prophecy” church more than most others were. If anything, it is was too much of an emphasis there. Growing in the prophetic was not an easy road and there is not too many road signs along the way.
As we go through this study, understand my background in from being part of Metro Vineyard and my theological background is mostly Classic Pentecostal. I was educated in the Brownsville Revival and later at Central Bible College (Assemblies of God) and finally at Oral Roberts University.