The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
Vineyard is committed to the theology and practice of the kingdom of God, rooted in the vision of the Hebrew prophets and fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. We have been commissioned to proclaim the good news of the kingdom bearing witness to the already and not yet of the kingdom in words and deeds.
Vineyard is a movement distinctively centered in a renewed understanding of the centrality of the kingdom of God in biblical thought. We view the kingdom of God as the overarching and integrating theme of the Bible. From our beginnings Vineyard has been committed to the proclamation of the kingdom of God and to bearing witness to the deeds of the kingdom through healing (physical, emotional, and social), doing justice, and delivering those held captive by evil. Since the kingdom of God is the future reign of God breaking into the present through the life and ministry of Jesus, we are a forward-leaning movement emphasizing the ever-reforming nature of the church engaging the world in love.
The kingdom of God is not a geo-political territory, nor is it the people of God. Rather, the kingdom of God is a dynamic realm. When one enters the kingdom she/he experiences the dynamic reality which exists within the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This means that the experience of the kingdom of God (and thus, the experience of God’s presence) is central to our faith and Christian life.
God is eager to be known and experienced by all. We believe that God is searching for lost humanity in order to draw us into intimate relationship with Himself. In response to God’s initiative, we value the life-changing power of the experience of His presence.
The primary place where that relationship is nurtured and developed is in the act of worship–both private and corporate. So, experience-based worship is the central activity of all that we do in the Vineyard. It is worship that causes all else that we do to become an act of worship. We experience God’s presence as a palpable reality when we worship. As we worship we become increasingly sensitive and responsive to the Spirit’s presence so that we can do as Jesus did: “See what the Father is doing,” (john 5:19) and support His work with our lives.
The experience of God flowing out of a life of worship affects all aspects of our life so that all division between the secular and the sacred vanish. We believe that the Spirit distributes His gifts to us resulting in prophecy, prayer languages, healing, miracles and many other gifts as we joyfully experience His presence.
We value an approach to God’s presence that is respectful both of God and of those we are with. We eschew hype and other efforts to manipulate either God’s presence or the response of others to His presence. We distinguish between the Holy Spirit and the human response which shares in all the beauty and brokenness of our humanity. We also believe that as we experience His presence through Christ by the Spirit we will be made more fully human and better reflections of the God-image that we were created to be.
Culturally Relevant Mission
The church exists for the sake of those who are exiled from God. We are called to bring the gospel of the kingdom to every nook and cranny of creation, faithfully translating the message of Jesus into language and forms that are relevant to diverse peoples and cultures.
We seek to plant churches that are culturally relevant in a wide variety of settings locally and internationally. Each Vineyard church is encouraged to reach those in its community not already reached by existing churches. To this end, we promote a creative, entrepreneurial and innovative approach to ministry that is faithful to Jesus and expressive of His heart to reach those who are far away from God.
Jesus is reconciling humans to God, to each other, and to the entire creation, breaking down divisions between Jew & Gentile, slave& free, male and female. Therefore, we are committed to becoming healing communities engaged in the work of reconciliation wherever sin and evil hold sway. We seek to be diverse communities of hope that realize the power of the cross to reconcile what has been separated by sin. This requires us to move beyond our personal preferences to engage those who are perceived to be unlike us and to actively break down barriers of race, culture, gender, social class and ethnicity. We are convinced that the church, locally, nationally and globally, is meant to be a diverse community precisely because Jesus is Lord over every nation, tribe and tongue. We are not satisfied with the status quo when it doesn’t reflect this kingdom reality, but are eager to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom here and now and to realize this mark of the kingdom in our midst.
We lean toward the lost, the poor, the outcast, and the outsider with the compassion of Jesus as sinners whose only standing before God is utterly dependent on the mercy of God. This mercy can only be truly received inasmuch as we are willing to give it away.
We believe that ministry in Jesus’ name should be expressed in concrete ways through the local church. The poor are to be served as though serving Jesus Himself. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a church expressing the love of Christ in a local community. In all forms of ministry, compassion is a hallmark of the one who was moved with compassion Himself in the face of human need. This being the age of grace and “the year of the Lord’s favor,” compassion should constitute the leading edge of our service to God, each other and a broken world. As such, we seek to avoid unauthorized judgments of others, realizing that we are all fellow sufferers and strugglers with the rest of humanity.