Church Tour: Vineyard

Ironically this reflection follows Eric's post on wineries... but they are unrelated. :)

Vineyard Churches actually grew out of the Calvary Chapel movement in the 1970s as a non-denominational, evangelical church emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit. Today, there are over 1,500 Vineyard congregations worldwide. They are known for praise and worship music and missions.

The congregation we attended is quite ethnically diverse. I've found that churches that are more charismatic in nature seem to be so, and without much effort. As the charismatic spectrum goes, Vineyard is pretty mellow. I loved the praise and worship. Their worship leader is a woman with a really incredible spirit and a gift for converging artists of all mediums (they host a once per month gathering of artists to share their work and commune with each other). The songs were sung in both English and Spanish, which made me ache for my Spanish-speaking days (I used to be almost fluent, now I'm sooo rusty). Banners on the wall emphasized grace, mercy and peace in different languages. The pastor preached about "waking up", recounting his conversion experience and hoping for something equally meaningful for everyone there.

I particularly enjoyed the lack of inhibitions during the singing. It still felt orderly to me, but people danced around a little, clapped, said some amens, etc. In this kind of atmosphere, it's ok for men to cry and women to speak, countering cultural norms in expression to God. I think I like the emotional responses in worship because the rest of my life often feels so guarded. I felt encouraged to abandon some of that.

God is moving here to spread the Good News through missions and song. As my friend APN puts it, Vineyard consistently writes and releases "non-cookie cutter" praise and worship songs, that are deep in content. I also see God moving in their intentional global vision. They seemed to be focused on ministering to a diverse group within their own city and beyond.

As we left we picked up a visitor's packet, which contained information about the church, and, you guessed it, a Vineyard worship cd.

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