Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting Back to the Roots

When I first got more involved with the Vineyard movement, you could walk into almost any church and see -- to greater or lesser degree -- something with a bunch of grapes pictured on it. During a music tour in Eastern Canada last century (1999), we played in one Vineyard that had grapes everywhere -- even the flower vases on the welcome table were shaped like big grape clusters. It got kinda comical at times.

But there was a great sense of belonging to a similar-minded group of Christians; people who believed in the reality of "the already and the not yet" understanding of the Kingdom of God, who believed in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit but were committed to avoiding hype or hysteria, were committed to serving the poor, and kept "the main and the plain" of the Bible front and centre.

Of course, the early and mid-1990's really challenged that in the Vineyard, between the Kansas City Prophets and later the "Toronto Blessing". It made quite a mess, and it's taken literally years for the Vineyard to recover from the damage.

When we get the chance, our family really enjoys taking a road trip into La Jolla (north end of San Diego) to attend Coast Vineyard. It has weathered the storms of the 90's hype & hysteria, and while not stuck in any Vineyard-shaped rut, has successfully maintained that early Vineyard dynamic that was so appealing to Wendy and I back in the day. Through Coast, our youngest daughter Renee recently attended from a youth-oriented conference at the Anahiem Vineyard, returning with a book that she'd received as part of the "training-and-doing" that the whole conference took part in.

So now I'm reading Naturally Supernatural, written by Gary Best, who is well-known as the National Team Leader for Vineyard Canada, the speaker at the conference my daughter attended, and -- somewhat less famously -- as the guy who first jokingly called me an "ecclesiastical anarchist". Gary's book is a wonderful reminder of what the Vineyard has always held at its core: that we will see the Kingdom continue to break in, as we deliberately choose to partner with the Holy Spirit in proclaiming the words and doing the works of Jesus.

And like our occasional visits to Coast Vineyard, reading Gary's well-written and engaging book stirs me to dig deeper into my Vineyard roots.

Well done, Gary. Highly recommended.