Global and Intercultural Ministry

A History of Vineyard Missions.

Since 2002, Vineyard Missions USA has served as the missions arm of the Vineyard, A Community of Churches. Each of the more than 550 churches belonging to the Vineyard USA community is an independent local congregation and has full autonomy, with responsibility for its own decisions, including its missional efforts. Vineyard Missions serves these churches by interacting with interested individuals and organizations internationally, organizing various volunteer groups (e.g., the Missions Leadership Team and country partnerships), and reporting back to the churches on the development of church planting efforts internationally. It also provides capacity building in cross-cultural skills, leadership development and for the care of long-term, cross-cultural workers (LTCCWs) supported by the individual churches of the community.

The Vineyard Genetic Code

Local church based missions is part of the genetic code of the Vineyard. John Wimber, its founder, always said that equipping of the Saints is crucial and that "Everyone gets to play!" - meaning simply that in the church every member has something to offer. At a Vineyard pastor's conference in September 1992, Wimber taught on 10 areas of ministry that were essential to any Vineyard church, which he called the "Vineyard Genetic Code." This Code includes common denominators that identify the Vineyard as a family. Among these is a commitment to missions and church planting at home and the world abroad.

A Partnership Model

The Vineyard uses U.S. based partnerships to further missions. A partnership is a group of churches that voluntarily come together and choose a particular target area to focus in. No church is expected to go it alone! Together, along with the people living in the target areas, they develop a strategic plan and carry out the vision. Partnerships make cross-cultural and trans-local missions available to churches of all sizes. In partnership, the total burden does not fall on one church and the work in the targeted area does not fluctuate with the life of a single church. In addition, new opportunities for fellowship and friendships are available among the partners. As the African proverb says, "If you want to go fast - go alone. If you want to go far - go together."

Background Information

The name of the corporation is: Vineyard Missions USA. The specific purpose of the organization is to proclaim the Christian message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by mobilizing, equipping and empowering Vineyard churches in the United States to engage in cross-cultural ministry and to develop the Vineyard movement throughout the world. It was formed as an integrated auxiliary of the Association of Vineyard Churches - USA, a nonprofit religious corporation now known as Vineyard USA. It provides the organizational and administrative services and the theological and spiritual underpinnings through which the long-term, cross-cultural activities of the movement and its affiliated churches occurs.

If you are new to Vineyard Missions and you want to get involved an easy starting point is to contact the appropriate Missions Leadership Team member. As we look to the future of our movement it is clear that it will be much more diverse both here in the U.S. and globally. We want to invite you to join in what God is doing with and through us around the world. If any of us at Vineyard Missions can be of assistance please contact us.

Why Ethnic Diversity?

You may have noticed that, as a movement, the Vineyard is pretty white. (Very white, in fact.) But that's changing in some fundamental ways that give us great hope for the future.

Of course, many of our urban churches are already quite multi-ethnic. (You can read about one of them in this issue of Cutting Edge: The River in Manhattan, which was planted out of the Greater Boston Vineyard. The church is pastored by Charles Park, who is Korean, and a multi-ethnic team. The church congregation is roughly one-third Asian, one-third white, and one-third black.)

And we've also begun to focus on multi-ethnic churches in various regional Vineyard conferences, as well. For example, the Southeast regional conference this year featured as its main speaker George Yancey, a scholar in race and community, and one of the worship sessions was led with Latino flair by a great worship team from the Miami Vineyard (itself a notably multi-ethnic church).

We're trying to take seriously the picture in Revelation 7:9 of "every nation and tribe and people and language" worshiping before the throne of God. We in the Vineyard are not tribalists. We hoping to become church communities that reach out across racial and ethnic lines and learn to re-experience our faith with a new kind of richness.

Discussions are starting on this subject with folks from around the country. You'll be hearing more about it at the national conference. And we'll be bringing you more on the subject right here in the pages of Cutting Edge, too. But, if you're looking to get a jump on things, you could start by reading the books Divided by Faith and United by Faith (an interview with a principal author of both books, the sociologist Michael Emerson, can be found in a previous issue of Cutting Edge) as well as George Yancey's practically-oriented One Body, One Spirit.

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