The Importance of Vineyard's Core Values
Bert Waggoner. National Director and President of Vineyard USA
I was shocked one day when a very sincere Vineyard friend told me that in order for a church to truly be a classic Vineyard, the people had to dress casually. I know that John Wimber wore Hawaiian shirts and tennis shoes, but I didn't realize that the style of dress had been raised to that level of importance. From time to time, I have heard other people refer to a certain style of music and worship as "Vineyard worship" - as if one particular style had been raised to the level of an absolute and that a true Vineyard church would express only that style.
The problem with each of these two ideas is that they show a confusion concerning the difference between what is a primary value and what is secondary. Primary values, or core values, are what is ultimate: they are the reason for an institution's existence. Secondary values are instrumental values that serve the core values. For example, we have a core value of being a reconciling community. In our present context, casual dress can facilitate and nurture community because formality tends to create emotional distance. As long as it serves this purpose, we should encourage casual dress. But if and when it does not serve this higher value, it should no longer be considered important.
Over the past year, and especially over the last three months, Vineyard's National Board of Directors has been working on refining our core values. It has been known for a while that we listed way too many values in our Theological and Philosophical Statements and that our list confused core values with secondary values. So the board set aside time to reflect on who we have been historically and who we are now. The purpose of our reflection was not to come up with a new set of values. Rather, we wanted to refine our understanding of who we are and, thus, what our "core values" are. I won't explain in depth here the process that we went through to arrive at the final list of five values other than to say that it involved five different working groups. The important thing is that after the process was over, we came together to develop a final list and--to our delight and surprise--everyone involved was in complete agreement about the Vineyard's core values (which are further clarified in an article by Ken Wilson ). The five core values are
- The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
- Experiencing God
- Reconciling Community
- Compassionate Ministry
- Culturally Relevant Mission
What difference do these core values make to the life of the Vineyard? They don't make us different. They simply refine our understanding of who we have always been and bring to the surface what really is distinctive about the Vineyard--what is at the center of our centered-set movement. They are not new values; they have always been who we are. We must nurture these core values so that they continue to be evident in every Vineyard church. These values give us the reason for our existence. They will not change. As we have defined them, they apply to all our churches in all their diversity and will endure as the Vineyard grows. We will unwrap these core values--what it means to be a Vineyard--much more over the next few months on this website.