I've been part of discussions recently about the term evangelical. As in who is this term appropriate for. But it gets me thinking about the various titles we use to describe ourselves today. In particular, what does it mean to be a Vineyard person?
Vineyard, as a label, shares a lot of similarities with evangelical. Hopefully everyone who would call themselves a Vineyard person in some way find a great attraction in what they have experienced of the values and practices of the Vineyard. But when you get to know this large family to which us Vineyard folk belong, well you realize that there are a lot of different aspects of these Vineyard values that people gravitate towards. In fact sometimes there are aspects of the Vineyard family that folks find not so attractive. If calling myself evangelical meant that I affirmed everything every evangelical did and stood for then I'd be in trouble (probably having narrowed the definition to one particular branch or manifestation of evangelical). Likewise, it isn't everything the Vineyard does that makes us go 'yay Vineyard'. Rather it is the overall ethos, the community and the family that grabs our hearts so strongly.
It is also the quality of people that Vineyard seems to attract. (At least for the most part.) Those dyed in the wool Vineyard folk, even when they have different ways of interpreting various Vineyard values, are in my opinion quality people. Passionate about what they believe in. Confident in God's character and activity. Committed to the whole Body of Christ. Good people. Maybe it is the fact that we value family so much, we realize that the bonds that hold us together deserve the willingness to hear each other fully and to not feel like being family means we all need to believe things exactly the same way. This is the strength of a movement based on values rather than a statement of faith. It is also what I believe will help the Vineyard carve out her place in the future as a family that faithfully proclaims the gospel of our great Savior. Evangelicals, at their core, have this same desire to proclaim the gospel - even though there is a wide variety of ways that gospel is understood (both in proclamation and enactment). It isn't the little things that are important, it is the commitment to being faithful to God that makes both groups dear to my heart.
Frank Emanuel - Freedom Vineyard, Ottawa.