Monday, September 22, 2003

DA-A-ANG!!

A friend of mine emailed me this morning with some comments and a question. For the sake of brevity, I'll just post the part that was the question (the rest of the email was words of encouragement -- thanks!):

"You're the guy that got me thinking differently about holding onto these "labels". Why do you hold onto the label of "Vineyardite"? You talk openly about being "vineyard" at heart and in your values. I'm not sure I understand why groups need to pull out a list of values of the kingdom and make a secondary identity out of it. Is it "Vineyard" to love to worship and feed the poor, or is it Christian? Is it Pentecostal to speak in tongues, or is it just a gift of Grace? By finding identity in being "Vineyard", is that any different than what I was doing with the label of "Gen X"?

The only thing I can think of in response is:

DA-A-ANG!!. You're completely right. I missed the log in my own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). Thank you for pointing it out to me, and especially thank you for the gracious way that you did it.

It also got me thinking more on "labels" -- generational or denominational -- and I think the reason that we tend to like them is because we're all looking for a "brand identity" that says that we're the cutting edge, or the artistic elite, or the radical passionate worshippers (implying that others aren't, right?). It's all about pride, if you want to put it baldly.

And the Vineyard, which we were a part of for over a decade, was very helpful to us in deepening our understanding and experience of worship, ministry to the poor, spiritual gifts, community, etc., but these things aren't inherently or exclusively "Vineyard", as you so rightly pointed out. Ironically, when Todd Hunter was the National Director of VineyardUSA, he was advocating exactly this change of mindset in the 'Columbus Accords':
Our focus should not simply be what is Vineyard? It should be:
  • What is biblical and consistent with Kingdom theology?
  • What is righteous and ethical?
  • What facilitates the Vineyard mission of church planting, evangelism and renewal?
  • What is in harmony with our values, priorities and practices?
While we don't currently attend a Vineyard church, our history with that movement is something I value and thank God for. But ultimately, Vineyard was only the seasonal vehicle that God used to teach us and give us a place for ministry -- Jesus was the one doing the changing, the challenging, and the transforming. Thanks for the reminder!

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