The musings of a pastor swimming in the deep waters of political theology.
Frank,What's an "alternative Vineyard"? I was a part of the Vineyard movement for a few years and just wondered what is going on now with the Vineyard--even hosted one of their worship conferences back in the day.Just curious.Love the pic.
Hey Kevin.Well that's a great question. I took to calling our church an "alternative Vineyard" as a way of opening a conversation about our community. In Ottawa there are a three Vineyard congregations. Actually each one is quite different (delightfully so). We are Vineyard because we hold a core set of values distinct to the Vineyard movement (see the vineyard.ca site for a list of our values) and on top of that we are connected to the Vineyard as our denominational family. Family is the best way to describe it. We find that the Vineyard has been so amazingly supportive of our vision.We are alternative because we do not have a traditional Sunday service. Our focus has been on Kinships (small groups meeting in homes having church), something that is actually quite common in the Vineyard, but we found that God was blessing the home groups but we struggled with doing large format meetings. We decided to focus on what God was blessing. Still pretty standard. But we also noticed that our sphere of influence shifted. We became a displaced model - we actually connect through internet and relationships. So we end up having a huge footprint on our city, blessing folks who are not integrated into our existing community. So rather than trying to build something big, we try our best to be a blessing to as many people in our area as we can. By ditching the overhead of more traditional trappings we have also been able to focus in a fresh way on building community amongst and with non-Christians. That is one of the more exciting things for us. And one other distinctive is that we have spent a lot of time developing the worship life of our house based groups. Because about half of our folk do not attend another congregation's Sunday worship (myself included) we have become developed our Eucharistic sense as well as focused on being a community where we all participate. Where about were you associated with a Vineyard?
This is what I am hearing--correct me if I am wrong: You are finding the best kind of church is one that has no "church" but that is simply an informal group of Christians who know one another?I was a part of a new church plant in Memphis in the late 80's, but after we left the church self-destructed and was kicked out of the Vineyard movement. I was then a part of a plant in Lexington, KY for a short time while we were figuring out what we were going to do and ended up planting an independent church in southeast Kentucky which was based on many of the Vineyard practices. Around '96 or so we hosted a Vineyard Music conference in Williamsburg, KY and I wrote for their Worship Leader magazine around that time as well.
Definitely not. We are very much a church - we have just modified the venue, size and focus. But one other clarification - I would never say this is the best kind of church, it is the form that works best for our group at this point in our history. We've been at this for about 9 years now, so it has taken us a while to figure out what worked and what didn't work for us.Even though we meet in homes we are deliberately liturgical. In fact we likely have a higher (more formal) liturgy than other Vineyards who meet in traditional church buildings. Size is a big one. Because we meet in homes we keep those groups small. So rather than having one central meeting each week, we have small groups connected through the internet and through other relational connections (meaning at least one of them connects with something else we are doing or with myself as the pastor). The term we use for this is micro-missional faith communities. Focus also shifts because we do not have to spend any energy supporting a huge gathering, maintaining a building, paying salaries, etc. So a big part of what we do is give. We give money, time and energy to each other, the local church (all denominations that are willing to receive), our neighbours (we do a lot of community building in our neighbourhoods), and the city. Does that clarify it a bit?
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