the vineyard story and values
The Vineyard movement originated in the United States in 1974, with the first Vineyard church growing rapidly and attracting a wide range of mostly young people with a desire to know, experience and share their faith in God. Growth was rapid and several other Vineyard churches were planted in California, with priorities of fostering worship, evangelism, relationships, healing, training and church planting.
In 1982, John Wimber and several other pastors led their existing churches into the Vineyard as their visions were complementary and before long John became leader of the movement. Initially, Vineyard restricted its church planting thrust to North America, limiting its operation in other countries to renewal conferences and training. However, Vineyard has now recognised a clear call to plant churches throughout the world, including New Zealand.
Vineyard's first impact in New Zealand came when John Wimber held a "Signs, Wonders and Church Growth" conference in 1986, which had a significant effect on many denominations in this country. Vineyard churches in New Zealand were launched in March 1995, led by Lloyd and Victoria Rankin. The Vineyard provided a theology and practice for healing and other Holy Spirit-empowered works through the emphasis on the Kingdom of God and "doing what you see the Father doing".
The Vineyard in New Zealand continues to plant churches and play its part in the international development of the Vineyard movement. There are now Vineyard churches and church plants throughout New Zealand. The Vineyard is committed to taking it's place in the Church in New Zealand and the world, to fulfil the calling God has given us as a "tribe" within the family of God, to bring our flavour to the whole and in so doing enrich the Church and be enriched by the Church.
We are part of Vineyard Churches Aotearoa New Zealand (VCANZ)
Vineyard Churches Aotearoa New Zealand is an association of the New Zealand Vineyard churches in which we share our common sense of calling and mission to the overall betterment of the kingdom of God. Each Vineyard church has its own Charitable Trust status and leadership structure, is autonomous and free to make its own decisions and minister in the way the Holy Spirit leads.
VCANZ has a National Director and board and serves the Vineyard churches in New Zealand through envisioning, resources, national events, training, pastoral care, and assists churches in whatever way possible. We see the Vineyard as a movement of the Holy Spirit and want all structure to exist to support people, pastors and the work of the Spirit. We never want people to exist to support structures. Vineyard Churches support VCANZ financially by contributing a percentage of their giving. As a local church our relationship to this association is a voluntary choice of mutual submission and support and does not govern our decision-making process except to officially confirm our senior pastor and the general integrity of our ministry and affiliation.
There are around 2000 Vineyard churches worldwide. Each country has its own Association of Vineyard Churches with a national director and national Board.
Jesus called us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and to "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). He also said to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34). Vineyard churches outwork these commands through three guiding principles, for which we use the analogy of the head (our theological centre), the heart (our relational centre) and the hands (our ministry centre).
Theological centre: kingdom theology and practice
Vineyard churches are committed to the theology and practice of the kingdom of God - which we view as the over-arching and integrating theme of the Bible. We are committed to proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and to bearing witness to the "already and not yet" of the kingdom in word and deed through healing (physical, emotional and social), doing justice and seeing people released to enjoy a full relationship with God.
Relational centre: loving God and loving people
Vineyard churches welcome God's presence, seeking in worship and prayer to hear His voice and to be obedient to His leading. As we become increasingly sensitive and responsive to the Spirit's presence, we "see what the Father is doing" and pursue that with passion. We also love people – inside and outside the church – with relationships characterised by respect and honour. "Being Disciples, Making Disciples" spreads into every aspect of what we do, both with people who are part of our churches and those who are coming towards faith in Jesus.
Ministry centre: effective mission
Vineyard churches want to bring the gospel of the kingdom wherever we sense God's leading, most often by planting culturally-relevant churches in a wide variety of settings. We are called to compassion and healing, leaning towards the lost, the poor, the outcast and the stranger as though we serve Jesus Himself.
Vineyard embraces a form of episcopal church government, along with the majority of Christian churches today.
There are two common forms of government in Christian churches, with variations on each.
Congregational: Congregationalism puts power into the hands of the voting members.
Episcopal: The pastor of the church functions as a bishop. He is called of God (or should be) and functions with a team of spiritual and organisational leaders.
- There is a primary pastor (bishop) along with many elders, ministers, pastors (Acts 15).
- The pastor is a servant leader and shepherd ... not a hireling.
- The pastor believes in and humbly considers the counsel and ministry of the appointed elders.
- The elders believe the pastor is called of God and gladly submit to his leadership.
- The elders are appointed by the pastor. (as Paul told Timothy to do).
- The goal is to honour mutual service, not political power.
This is the form of government in Vineyard churches because it is biblical and functional. There is room for abuse in any system - the success of government depends upon the trustworthiness and heart of the pastor or elders.
Vineyard churches are charitable trusts registered with the Justice Department, and are legally autonomous. There are trustees of the Trust who undertake and fulfil all the legal requirements for the Trust, and who make decisions regarding all the churches legal, financial and business matters. Matters relating to the spiritual life of the church are entrusted to the leadership team.
Ten common factors that are high priorities in Vineyard churches:
- Clear, accurate, inspiring biblical teaching where we hear and obey God's word to us.
- Contemporary worship in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, worshipping God with our whole being with Jesus at the centre as our Lord.
- Sensing the presence and power of God and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, both in church and anywhere else we go.
- Physical healing with emphasis on signs and wonders as seen in the Gospels and the book of Acts.
- An active small group ministry with an emphasis on discipling believers.
- Holistic care for the broken, poor and needy, such as the homeless, the disadvantaged and single parents and their children.
- Commitment to church planting in New Zealand and missions throughout the world.
- Unity with the whole body of Christ and authentic, intimate, enabling relationships within our own churches.
- Preaching and living the Gospel of the Kingdom, always looking to what the Father is doing in bringing people to reconciliation with Him and participation in the community of faith.
- Training and releasing people into committed discipleship, ministry to others, serving, giving, responsible use of finances and healthy relationships.
A church's values are often unseen, but they are powerful drivers of how we relate to people – and to God. In Vineyard churches we value:
The Pursuit of God
We are hungry to know God's presence, hear His voice and pursue Him (Psalm 63:1-3).
We desire that through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus' love, mercy, grace, truth, purity, power and integrity will shine through all that we are and do (Ephesians 5:2).
The Mercy of God
Mercy is fundamental to all God does in salvation. We, therefore, aim to extend mercy to one another and to all to whom we minister (Colossians 3:12,13)
Prayer is a primary means of our communication and relationship with God (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:6).
It is important for us to speak the truth, deal honestly and live uprightly (Ephesians 4:15).
We aim to exercise leadership with humility, selflessness, grace, care for the people and a sincere desire to build up the Body of Christ (Mark 10:37,44-45).
Single or married, we want to enable and support mature relationships and family growth (Romans 12:9-10).
We are honoured by every person God adds to the Vineyard. We aim to maintain mutual respect, open communication, determined co-operation and believe and speak the best about each other (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
All who belong to Christ are one in His Body, the Church. We aim to maintain unity by honouring all who call on Jesus' name and by seeking relationship with all parts of the Church (John 17:21-23).
We aim to walk in the Spirit and see supernatural works of God, while also valuing the intellect and our physical humanity (James 1:5).
We wish to do nothing for "religious effect" but to act in natural, non-hyped ways. We desire to do the ministry of Christ with joy (Philippians 4:4).
We aim to speak and act in ways in which our culture can respond positively. For example, we value worship music in a style that is relevant to our time and society, and the people our churches are reaching (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Fruit and Gifts
We value living and expressing the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We value character above giftedness.
We want to create freedom to follow Jesus rather than conforming to arbitrary standards. We embrace grace, not legalism.
Sovereignty of Holy Spirit
We want to maintain flexible structures, traditions and practices to allow the Holy Spirit to move sovereignly.