Churches come in all shapes, sizes and flavours and that’s by no means a bad thing. But if you’re unfamiliar with Vineyard churches you may be wondering, ‘What are they like?’
Talking about ‘our values’ sounds a bit pompous, but here are some of the things that matter to us…
Intimacy with Jesus
It’s easy when looking at a church to become preoccupied with the visible, tangible, measurable stuff: how many showed up to the last meeting? Have we got enough small groups? Are the band too loud? These things matter, but not as much as the invisible stuff – more specifically, how well do we know Jesus and his love for us, and how much do we love and serve him? We want to be a community that is learning together how to know him better and love him more.
Word and Spirit together
Some churches make the Bible a priority, and others the Spirit. For us it’s both, Word and Spirit together. We are hungry for a deeper knowledge of God’s Word and love it when God speaks through the Bible, and we long for an ever-increasing experience of God’s Spirit in our lives, empowering us to live like Jesus. Both/and, not either/or.
Everyone gets to play
We don’t think that church should be a spectator sport. God gives gifts to all of us and when we have an opportunity to discover and use them, we grow to maturity, we experience life to the full, and the church becomes healthier and more outward-looking. If most people in the church are merely consumers of religious products and services, they stagnate and the church loses its vitality. One of our favourite sayings is ‘Everyone Gets to Play’.
Come as you are don’t stay as you are
It’s really difficult to be a church that accepts and values every single individual who walks in through the front door, regardless of their history, beliefs, and lifestyle, and at the same time that challenges everyone to become disciples of Jesus, to become more and more like him. It means saying to everyone ‘Come as you are, but don’t stay as you are’. It means offering forgiveness, mercy and grace to everyone who fails, regardless of how many times they fail, and at the same time holding out the hope of real change and pointing to the God who offers the power to change. It’s a tricky balance to maintain, but Jesus did it.
Serving the poor
We see our attitude to the poor, the weak and the vulnerable as a litmus-test of our faith in Jesus. If we really know the God who is the great provider, who overflows with generosity towards us and who has compassion on everyone in need, then we will imitate him. This is why serving the poor is very important to us.
Finally, church-planting. We’d rather be a fertile church than a big church. We love investing in people, training them up and then sending them out, giving away our best people and resources, because the kingdom of God is far more important than Bristol Vineyard. This can be a painful process. It means that change is a constant, and that we’re often saying goodbye to people we’ve become close to, but it’s how the church has spread world-wide for the last 2000 years.