“Understanding who we are”
The radical nature of what we are called to be faithful to is well portrayed in the shocking story of Jesus cleansing the temple. Like Him, we want to be motivated by the zeal for His father’s House. What we are called to be is best summarized in what we cal Vineyard Values. These values are biblical emphases, they are not doctrines. They are especially selected for having particular relevance in our time to help bring the church into line with the New Testament description of the church. In that sense, they are correctional emphases and may well have relevance for a particular time. Future generations may need to have different values to address the particular issues of their time.
1. We value proper approach to the Bible
Wherever the church in History has departed from the authority of scripture, it has got into trouble. This was true at all the time of reformation when church tradition and ritual were placed above scripture and later on during the enlightenment when human reasoning was placed above scripture. Today it would seem that in many places the authority of scriptures is challenged by personal spiritual experiences. We adhere to the principle that the authority of Scripture is above that of the church, tradition, human reasoning or particular spiritual experiences.
As we let the Bible speak for itself we want to be faithful to it and its essential message. We follow the accepted reformed evangelical principle of interpretation of scripture. Doctrine and a proper understanding of scripture is important but we cannot stop there. We believe that the Bible is to be both experienced and expressed in the way we live our lives. Therefore we want to go beyond just objectively studying and evaluating the Bible to being truly biblical where we don’t just believe the right things but we are in a process of becoming and doing what the Bible says. This will mean that we don’t just selectively use the texts to say what we want to say, but have an approach where the Bible is taught in a practical, down to earth way with an emphasis on its application to life.
2. We value the Holy Spirit as the Administrator of the Church
We believe that Because Jesus is the head of the Church; this necessarily means that the Holy Spirit must in fact be the one who runs the church and in that sense is in charge! Somebody once said that if the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church, 80% of what is happening in the church would simply carry on. In other words, most of what is done in the church is our doing and not the Holy Spirit’s. Anything that happens in the church should not just be for Jesus but also from Him and therefore His initiative.
Jesus, as the head of the church, delegates His authority to those who follow Him and also gives us the Holy Spirit who will direct the affairs of the church if we allow Him to do so. Thus His presence and ministry must be honoured and received by being open to the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, to guidance, to seeking His presence and leadership in all aspects of church life. It is in His manifest presence that healing occurs; people are filled with the Holy Spirit and set free from bondage. This affects our approach to everything, especially our worship which is characterized by intimacy and being real and self disclosing with God.
We are vigilant when it comes to guarding against pretence, hype and manipulating or forcing people to do things. Instead, we want to genuinely worship Him and as we come into His presence to allow Him to do whatever He wants to do.
3. We value relationships as primary
The church is much more than a crowd. Using the building metaphor, we are not satisfied with just a ‘pile of bricks’ but instead want to carefully build building. This is done through relationship. Christianity is not a system of rules, or program to be followed, but a set of relationships. For us it is essential to live Christianity relationally.
Building relationships is essential for our ‘being’, out of which flows our ‘doing’ or ministry. The New Testament picture of the church which we seek to follow is that of a community of friends. For relationships to be encouraged, the following qualities need to be stressed: intimacy, self disclosure, acceptance, freedom to fail, reality and commitment. The following need to be avoided: religious pretence, judgementalism, conformity and independence.
Our understanding is that Church structure is built on relationships and the gifts that God gives rather than positions and titles. These relationships are conducted on an adult-to- adult basis, as against a parent to child understanding or practice of relationships. We are also mindful of the fact that loving relationships are an extremely powerful evangelistic and revolutionary force in society. We see that loving relationships contribute to people being transformed.
4. We value people's individuality, worth and freedom
It is important to us that each person feels loved and accepted as they are. This is well summarized in the sequence belong-believe-behave. By this we mean, we want anybody coming to the church to feel that they belong and are accepted. As they experience the love of the community, God’s presence in worship is instructed through the word, we long that they should come to believe in Jesus. Lastly as a consequence of these things, we see people as being in a process where their behaviour is changed. It is important that this happens in the correct sequence. It often happens the other way round when people only feel and a sense of belonging when they conform.
This value is, for instance, reflected in the way we minister to people where we object to people being man-handled or shouted at, manipulated instead of being lovingly focused on in an unpressurized way as particular individuals with specific needs. We also honour the freedom that every believer has in Christ; avoid manipulation control by means of fear or guilt. We oppose legalism and honour people’s freedom of choice in matters of conscience.
This value is further reflected in the belief that there is not a single person in the church who is unimportant. The New Testament metaphor of the body means that each person has a God given chance and be encouraged to minister, hear from God and pursue their own calling in God a well as take responsibility for their own growth and service.
5. We value ministry as an expression of God's mercy
It is evident that preaching the kingdom and healing people is central to Jesus commission and indeed the way He understood His own Ministry. Evangelism to the lost must be centre of all healing otherwise we could end up with a merely social or humanistic program. Furthermore, our view of healing involves the whole person and their environment. It therefore involves healing from the past hurts and emotional wounding, from mental and demonic disorder or bondage, physical healing as well as relationships being restored and blessed.
We understand salvation as restoration from alienation from God as well as the life He intends for us. Healing is both an instantaneous act and a process which occurs over a period of time. Furthermore, it is recovery and change as well as growth into maturity and wholeness. Our focus is expressed in the phrase “we heal people not sickness”. Phrase like “doing the stuff” and “the meat is on the street.” As John Wimber said of our intensions, “Ours is neither to make names for ourselves nor to build lasting institutions, but to meet the needs of broken people through ministry of mercy in our lifetime."
The basis for this ministry is deeply rooted in our understanding of grace and mercy where we have a deep sense of our own lostness and God’s overwhelming generosity towards us. It is often when we ourselves have been broken before God that we can best minister to others with a sense of mercy.
6. We value holistic, balanced, integrated approach to Christianity
We want to live our Christian lives in such a way that we remove the artificial distinctions seen, for instance, in the separation of the sacred from the secular. For the believer, all of life is sacred, not just what we do in church, and needs to be lived to the glory of God.
Furthermore, we do not see healing through medicine as being oppose to supernatural healing. We also integrate Biblical and secular knowledge in the discovery of truth (“Bible is true, but not all truth is in the Bible”) he areas of Natural science, human sciences, medicines, psychology, business and management as useful, provided they agree, and are not in conflict, with scripture.
Another area that we integrate is that of the experiential and the rational. Both are important in knowing God. Lastly, we have an all inclusive approach to the Church of Jesus Christ, and what the Holy Spirit is doing in every part of it. We understand clearly that we are just a small part of the universal church and seek to love and honor the rest of the body of Christ.
7. We value a godly approach to money and stewardship
In view of a context where there is widespread mismanagement and irresponsibility in the area of money, wealth and poverty, the value of stewardship can not be emphasized enough.
We believe strongly that Jesus saw money as a test and a trust. (Lk 16:10-12) and therefore emphasize this integrity and discipline in people and churches concerning money matters in all areas of life.