A Vineyard Church is an Empowered Evangelical Church. This means we are first and foremost evangelical, embracing Christianity as taught in the Bible and expounded upon in the great creeds and confessions of the historical church. For this reason the Vineyard also embraces the power of the Holy Spirit known to the church since its inception as signs and wonders. We believe that every disciple of Christ, from the moment of salvation, is baptized in the Holy Spirit and has been given spiritual gifts for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom and the service of the saints (Romans 8.9). This point distinguishes Empowered Evangelical churches (like the Vineyard) from Pentecostalism (a twentieth century doctrine with a heavy emphasis on tongues and a belief in a post-salvation baptism of the Spirit). In other words, a Vineyard Church is not a Pentecostal Church in doctrine or church culture, but we do embrace the present ministry and manifestation of the Holy Spirit, making us both a Word and Spirit church.
The Vineyard is both a teaching church and an experiential church. We believe that the Word of God is powerful, living and active (Hebrews 4.12) and that it is divinely inspired making it useful for correcting, rebuking and equipping the people of God for every good work and ministry (2 Timothy 3.16). Pastor Brian teaches directly from the Bible, explaining the meaning of sacred Scripture while bridging those ancient words to practical, real-world situations of people living today. Each teaching time is followed by Spirit-led ministry, giving everyone an opportunity to respond to the message and to experience the power of the Holy Spirit by receiving private prayer, encouragement, words of knowledge, discipleship, salvation or whatever attention they may need. We also believe in praying for the sick, deliverance from demonization, and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s power. However, we do not believe in making a show or treating the work of the Holy Spirit as something for church amusement. We believe all ministry should glorify God more than the ones administering it.
Citrus Vineyard Church is a part of the Association of Vineyard Churches: a community of churches. The Vineyard is not a denomination per se, but we do share a common set of values, a statement of faith and a philosophy of ministry. The Vineyard movement began in 1977 as a single Vineyard Christian Fellowship within the Calvary Chapel denomination. As more Calvary Chapel churches adopted the Vineyard name a new leader emerged among the churches by the name of John Wimber. John was a musician, and a part of the Righteous Brothers before coming to Christ. His early Christian experience and ministry as a pastor was among the Friends Churches (Quaker). Later he served as part of the faculty of at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and as the director of the Fuller Church Growth Institute. That loose network developed into an association of over 600 churches in the USA and over 2,000 Vineyard Churches worldwide. The association has continued to maintain its loose affiliation of autonomous churches linked by a shared statement of faith, philosophy of ministry, values, and through cooperation, rather than a system of trans-local government and oversight.
All VineyardUSA churches share five core values that make them a part of the Vineyard movement:
- The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
- Experiencing God
- Reconciling Community
- Compassionate Ministry
- Culturally Relevant Mission
These five core values color everything we do as a church beginning with the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ primary message in his earthly ministry was the Kingdom of God (the kingdom of God is upon you, the kingdom of God is near you, you are not far from the kingdom, the kingdom of God is like . . .) and his teaching was accompanied by the works of the kingdom, both natural and supernatural. As this was the focus of Jesus’ earthly ministry we have sought to also make his teaching and practice of the kingdom our focus as well. We believe that the Kingdom is not just the future universal reign of God, or simply the Christian Church. We believe that the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God (Βασαλια) both in its present manifestation (salvation, deliverance, healing, etc. Mark 12.34, Matthew 12.28, 9.35) and it its final manifestation (the new heavens and new earth Revelation 21).
Experiencing God is not just our commitment to know about God, but to know him intimately, encounter him through worship, prayer, salvation and the present manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and in divine guidance (dreams, visions, prophecy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, discernment and much more). To reveal the Father heart of God to those who do not know God, and to come into a full knowledge (heart, mind and soul) of his great love for humanity, and for the individual.
We believe also that the church of Christ is meant to be a reconciling community in as much as Jesus reconciled us to himself by taking on himself our sin and not counting our sins against us as we deserved and gave to the church the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5.18-21). In this way we have been called to share this gospel of reconciliation by pointing others to this same forgiveness and reconciliation with Christ, and by demonstrating this same spirit of forgiveness by forgiving others and by not harboring bitterness and resentment in our hearts toward others. As well, Jesus put to death the enmity that exists between male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free through his body so that we might be one (Ephesians 2:14-21). We are called to be a people of peace and reconciliation and not to contribute to the sectarianism of the world.
Fourth, we believe it is not enough for us to be right or even what we say to be true, but our actions must reflect Compassionate Ministry. The works of the church should be filled with compassion even as the Father heart of God is filled with compassion. Jesus did not come to the earth simply because he was duty bound, or it was the right thing to do. He was not compelled by the law or anything greater than himself, but the love of the Father for the world, that no one should perish but through faith in Jesus Christ they should have everlasting life (John 3.16).
Finally, we believe that ministry should be contextual, treating every place the gospel is preached as an outpost of the kingdom of God, not as our homeland, translating the good news into the vernacular of the recipients. Here in the United States that means having a Culturally Relevant Mission Mindset. Life in these United States is constantly changing. What was culturally relevant a few years ago is no longer relevant today. As well, in as much as we have been saved and set apart, we no longer think like the people like those who belong to the world. We recognize that our values are different, our worldview is different, and our priorities are different. Therefore even in the place that once was our home we must be like missionaries, learning afresh how to speak the language of our city, the next generation, and the people of this world. This should never mean compromising the truth, lowering the standards of right and wrong, or messing with the message. It should mean that we go afresh to the old, old story, and think through what is culture and what is the Word of God. That which is culture can be rethought, and repackaged. That which is Scripture must be held onto and fought for without change or compromise. We don’t mess with the message, but we do adjust the medium by which we share the message.
These five core values are central to our identity and define the way that we do ministry, and how we understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our highest priority is worship; not just music, but the all-encompassing concept that everything we do should be a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12.1). For this reason we begin most every meeting with a time of worship, in praise to God. It also means that the focus of our lyrics is directed to God more than singing about God to one another. In our songs, we seek to directly exalt the Lord!