A practice does not make a church!

Posted: March 15, 2010 in christianity, church, theology, Uncategorized
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Right now Jason Clark over at Deep Church is doing a series on Re-imagining Vineyard values. I think it is interesting because many people who hear that our church is a Vineyard church think that we jump around like monkeys and bark like dogs all in an effort to be totally stoned in the Holy Spirit. That is not what the Vineyard is all about. Those are practices that were done by certain Vineyard churches but the Vineyard movement is much bigger than a practice. You cannot build a church on a practice any more than you can build a marriage on a practice. That’s why they tell you it’s got to be based on more than just sex 🙂 A local church has to be grounded in core beliefs and values and out of these core beliefs and values a vision is birthed and from this vision flows the practices that it is engaged in within its particular context. Some have built churches on healing and then when healing wasn’t the in thing (meaning nobody got healed) then there was no church. Some have built churches on prophecy and when the prophecies got old or didn’t come true then there was no church. Some have built churches with cool powerpoint, video and drama with the desire to be seeker sensitive but when the show does not entertain then there is no church. Some are now building churches on couches, candles and art but when it gets old and boring then there is no church. There are three reasons why practices are not the way to go

1) Practices are too temporal and change with the season. Sometimes the community around us and the culture that we live in changes so that a practice that worked well previously is no longer viable at the current time. For example: Tracts used to be high tech. It cost a lot to create a gospel tract or booklet back in the day. Part of the appeal was that something so costly would be given away. Nowadays it is not as costly. A similar practice with the same appeal would be to give a dvd away.

2) Practices are also bound by context. What works in one context does not work in another. I don’t know if having power point and a light show would be that viable or even work in Africa??? Plus in certain places you would have to lug around a generator.

3) Practices can become idols and distract us away from God and the things that he wants for his people. Sometimes practices become like magic and we begin to be deceived into believing that this particular activity will bring thousands to the Lord, cause greater spiritual growth, influence secular society etc. etc. The truth is only the Lord can do that.

It is essential to know the core beliefs and values and vision so that you can negotiate the practices no matter what context the church finds itself in. As a church right now we are in the midst of discerning our identity as we have moved our Sunday morning gathering from one location to another. I believe that the core dna is still there and now we have to uncover the values and beliefs and vision that brought us together in the first place. It definitely was not the place we were in-Awakenings Coffeehouse-but something much deeper that being in the coffeehouse represented. I believe this new season is not about a new vision but allowing the Lord to show us the fine nuances and details of our identity as a body. Our church does not consist of a practice or activity but something much deeper. I am grateful to the Lord that he has us on this journey as we once again discover who we are in him.

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Comments
  1. This is a good post. Right now God is working on me through various teachings about the church I lead. He’s got me thinking about the purpose of our church and making sure our practices reflect our purpose. You’re so right! Our practices become our god and eventually become our tradition. It’s important to be grounded in your vision/purpose/mission and values. I’m going to do a values teaching in the Fall. I’m already looking forward to it!

  2. mayotron says:

    That’s great Andre. I just took a class at Fuller called church and mission and it was so helpful because we did not just look at practices but what values and beliefs undergirded those practices. Nobody in our congregations actually think about these things but these things affect their behavior and affect our decisionmaking as leaders. It’s no wonder that many times what we as leaders believe and value is so incongruent with the beliefs and values of those we lead. Are you doing your series on Crossroads specific values or Vineyard values in general?

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