Our local Vineyard group had a discussion this evening on what factors attracted us to the Vineyard church. There were only a few of us there but a lively debate ensued never the less. From my point of view:
I have a distrust of hierarchies and hierarchical thinking.
Everyone, even someone off the street, can be inspired to say something useful to all
We must try and deal with our own ‘judgement on sight’ of those who present with less than perfect attention to detail. I have written a ‘micro-app’ which prompts me to say when I see such people ‘that was me 20 years ago’
It is so important to give an indication of welcome by the door, for example a balloon, a scarf tied to the door, a welcome notice, a flag, some flowers.
I like the informal style of the Vineyard ways of doing things, for example starting a service when people are ready rather than at a particular time
I also like the fact that couples lead the groups and churches, rather than one person. This gives a wholesome family feel.
I very much enjoy the meeting of souls over coffee before the formalities start
I like the emphasis on going out of the church and doing practical things in the community
Many people are shy of coming to any new place. When I was in my father’s church ( I was a vicar’s son) he told of a man who walked round the local common three times before summing up the courage to enter the church
That people often present to a group damaged with a very low level of trust.
We need to meet them where they are and talk about the things that they are familiar with. Thus we get to know each other as people, human beings, and then when it is safe and appropriate we can discuss things like belief and faith. We need to get our timing right so we should I suggest wait for a sign of interest before mentioning something spiritual.
There was at the gathering this evening a woman who came from a catholic background. She felt she was being led towards a different approach. I teased her and asked how her ‘guiltometer’ was. Guilt infuses Catholics quite extensively I find. She has been feeling like breaking from the catholic church since 2019 so with the lockdown and so on, not long.
I said that if she could describe to us her situation, a feeling of ‘not belonging’ and jumping from group to group, she was probably doing quite well. I described her situation as ‘taking off overcoats’ – removing layers of fear and mistrust and indeed – guilt. I was moved to congratulate her on her progress.