Finding a good church whenever I’ve had to move is always a difficult thing. The plus side about living in different parts of the country is that I have gotten to experience many different types of churches and have met amazing Christ-followers in all of them. The down side is that it takes so long to feel at home someplace – at least a year in my experience. Husband and I only have a year here, so we have been doing a lot of church hopping for the past several months. It almost feels frantic, because we know that our time is so limited here.
Just recently, we decided to settle at a Vineyard church. This movement (denomination? I’m still not clear) was pretty much an unknown entity to us, although I had heard of the music before. We initially really liked the simple sincerity of the worship, the solid and practical biblical preaching, and the family atmosphere. Once small groups started for the year, we joined one and have been having some great conversations with people so far. We still do like all those things. We have found nothing amiss in the statement of beliefs or values of the church or in the preaching, as we are careful to compare it against scripture. In fact, the openness to the Holy Spirit is refreshing, and comes on the heels of reading Francis Chan’s book The Forgotten God and also attending a week-long seminar in England through Ellel Ministries.
But there are a couple issues that bother me a bit. Having never encountered anything like this before, I don’t know if I should be more bothered or not at all. Also, these things may be unique to our church, so I don’t want to paint all Vineyard churches with the same brush either.
1. Why does everyone talk about Vineyard values and Vineyard ways and the Vineyard movement?
There seems to be such an emphasis on the Vineyard “brand” instead of on Jesus and becoming more like him. It doesn’t happen during the sermons, but I have noticed this when just talking with people. In conversations at church or in small group, people name drop Vineyard more than God.
I will admit that I’m probably being judgmental or maybe just feeling uncomfortable with a new thing. Please feel free to offer any words of wisdom if you have them.
2. Why can’t we all just pray together instead of having it always be about ministry?
One thing that David and I miss is just praying together with people — worshiping and praising God, being thankful, praying together for needs. This could just be our church, but at small group, we don’t pray together unless it’s laying on hands and ministering specifically to someone and their needs. This bothers me. While I do appreciate prayer as a direct ministrt, I feel that there is something powerful about the prayers of the church, interceding for each other and for the world, together. What do you think?