We believe that Jesus told the church exactly what the church is supposed to be doing. And that in the book of Matthew we have the clearest picture of what he said. Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
We are to go to every type of people, every nation on our planet leading them to become disciples or students or apprentices of Jesus, baptizing them in water, and immersing them in the reality of the Trinitarian God; and teaching these new disciples to obey everything Jesus gave us to do.
And Jesus gave us two promises as we go about this task: That he has been given complete authority throughout the entire universe, and that he will be with us until the job is completely finished.
We want to develop a community of disciples of Jesus who love and experience God, who love one another, and who partner with Christ to bring healing to our world. Our vision statement is comprised of five purposes that we want to live out as a church.
Membership – “…a community…”
Maturity – “…of disciples of Jesus…”
Mission – “… and partner with Christ to heal the world…”
Every house is built upon a foundation. Vineyard is built upon the foundation of the Bible and our theology—how we think about God—and our values, the kinds of ideas and attitudes that we feel are important. Values concern what a church feels like, the atmosphere of the church, the ethos. It is possible for two churches to believe exactly the same doctrine, but to feel very different because the two churches have different value systems.
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 in 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, both locally and internationally. We are working to reach those in our 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 desire to reach those who are far away from God.
The triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is eager to be known and experienced by all. We believe that God is searching for the lost and longs to draw us into loving, intimate relationship with him. We welcome God’s personal presence, we seek to be attentive to his presence, and we value the passionate pursuit of his presence in order to respond in obedience to his initiatives.
We understand God’s presence as a palpable reality. As we become increasingly sensitive and responsive to the Spirit’s presence, we too can learn to “see what the Father is doing” and support his work with our lives. We value an approach to God’s presence that is respectful both of God and others. 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 to the Holy Spirit, which shares in all the beauty and brokenness of our humanity.
The apostle Paul writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1.15). We value being a part of what God is doing to reconcile people to himself, to each other and to the entire creation. He breaks down divisions between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female. Therefore, we are committed to being communities of healing, engaged in the work of reconciliation wherever sin and evil hold sway.
We also seek to be diverse communities of hope that realize the power of the cross to reconcile what has been separated by sin. This requires that we move beyond our personal preferences and engage those whom we perceive to be unlike us. We must actively work to 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. Instead, we pray eagerly for the coming of God’s kingdom here and now and hope to see the reconciliation that is evidence that kingdom in our midst.
We lean toward the lost, the poor, the outcast, and the outsider with the compassion of Jesus, knowing we are sinners whose standing before God is utterly dependent on his mercy. 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 we serve Jesus himself. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a church expressing the love of Christ in a local community.
In fact, in all forms of ministry, compassion is a hallmark of the One who was “moved with compassion” 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 our broken world. With humility, we seek to avoid unauthorized judgments of others, realizing that we suffer and struggle along with the rest of humanity.
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Vineyard churches function and do life together distinctively in many ways. Several short statements sum these up well:
“Come Holy Spirit”
While we believe that God is present in our lives without this prayer, the deepest cry of our heart is that we need his tangible presence right now. This is the central prayer of our liturgy.
“Leaders who walk with a limp”
We want leaders who know their own weaknesses and failures, who never try to pretend that they are above those they lead.
“The main and the plain”
The bible is our plumb-line. We want to focus on believing and learning to do what the scriptures say.
“The already and the not yet”
We are unashamed and unembarrassed that the power of suffering of the kingdom of God go hand in hand. And we will encourage a lifestyle that expects and yet does not demand that the kingdom of God is demonstrated everywhere we are.
“Come as you are, but don’t stay as you are”
We love to create environments where people can belong before they believe. God welcomes us just as we are, but he is never content to leave us as he found us.
We embrace an absence of hype or manipulation, and simply want to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. We want to get out of God’s way, to understate our involvement and humbly allow God to work in other’s lives.
“Everyone gets to play”
We refuse to have an elite group. Everyone gets to participate in doing the works of Jesus.
“Equipping the saints”
We will continually invest ourselves in training and equipping God’s people do do what Jesus did.
“Plant churches that will plant churches”
The very nature of the gospel and the church leads to reproduction, the planting of new churches. We want to continue this within our own culture and to every other people group God might lead us to.
“Worshippers of God and rescuers of people”
We are given to expression of worship and compassion in every part of our lives. This is our expression of loving God and loving our neighbor.
Statement of Faith
The Bible is our final authority in matters of faith and practice. Therefore, our Statement of Faith reflects our best attempt to express what we believe, and how we are to live out that faith. The understanding that the Kingdom of God is the integrating motif of our understanding of the story of God, the Bible and our theology has influenced the structure of this document. From beginning to end, this Statement of Faith reflects our understanding that biblical theology is eschatological in nature and this eschatological dimension is expressed in terms of the Kingdom of God.
To view the Statement of Faith booklet, click here
Women in Leadership: How to Decide What the Bible Teaches
This paper is by Rich Nathan, who is the Senior Pastor of the Columbus Vineyard in Columbus, Ohio. God has used Rich to share the heart of the Father about women in leadership. Rich lays out the biblical argument for why we allow women in leadership roles at the Vineyard Church of Duluth. (Website: www.vineyardcolumbus.org, Email: Columbus Vineyard, Phone: 614-890-0000)
On the weekend of September 1st, 2007, Michael Gatlin referred to this article in a sermon he taught from I Corinthians about how we are all under the authority of Christ. You can listen to that sermon here.