Five Core Values, Seven Simple Words
Dianne Leman is Co-Senior Pastor of Vineyard of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
On a recent Sunday, I was hurrying down the building corridor when I passed an older gentleman and said a brief hello. He stopped and began to earnestly tell me how his very ill four-month-old grandson was in a large children's hospital, where doctors were unable to diagnose his condition. As he finished sharing, I said simply, "Can I pray for you right now?" It only took a moment to pray, but God's presence with us was powerful. We parted ways, trusting God to move in this baby's life.
Can I pray for you right now? These seven words--seven simply supernatural words--capture the essence of the five core values of the Vineyard movement:
- The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
- Experiencing God
- Reconciling Community
- Compassionate Ministry
- Culturally Relevant Mission
At the Vineyard of Champaign-Urbana , where I pastor, we encourage everyone to be attentive and ready to speak these seven words wherever the opportunity arises--whether in the church building, on the street, or in our homes or workplaces. And in this practice of praying for others, we express the Vineyard's five core values.
We offer to pray because we believe the kingdom of God has come, and we trust that at any moment the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit may break in and bring healing to our broken world.
We experience God when we respond to the Holy Spirit's nudges and ask, "Can I pray for you right now?" As we pray, we sense God's heart, we share his love, and we receive his guidance. We are actually partnering with God! His empowering presence fills us and flows through us.
We make a regular practice of meeting together in small groups where, as a reconciling community, we not only practice praying for each other, but also share stories, failures, and successes. We humbly bear one another's burdens. We are reconciled to one another and to God as we confess our sins and receive forgiveness. We part, freshly empowered to continue the work of the kingdom, bringing reconciliation wherever we go.
Because we are equipped and ready to pray, we often find ourselves engaged in compassionate ministry outside the church service. A young man from our congregation was on the campus of the University of Illinois when he stopped to talk to a distraught student and ended up asking, "Can I pray for you right now?" A new mom from our church was pushing her stroller through the neighborhood when she met another new mom. When her neighbor shared some struggles, she asked, "Can I pray for you right now?" And sometimes, miracles happen as the future invades the present. Other times, we don't see any change but we have still shared the love and mercy of Jesus with another person.
When we pray for someone, we are careful to use language that is familiar and meaningful to the person receiving prayer. We meet people in places and situations in which they are comfortable, not waiting for them to come to prayer meetings or Bible studies or church services. Most often, we take part in culturally relevant mission as we go about our everyday lives, living among our neighbors and engaging in the same culture our they engage in, instead of giving into the urge to hide away in the Christian subculture.
Being ready to speak these seven simply supernatural words "Can I pray for you right now?" will help all of us live out the foundational values of the Vineyard. Five core values, seven simple words.