Naturally Sacramental 1 – The Vineyard & the practice of Honesty
I mentioned in the last post that I wanted to give some practices that AA’s and/or Vineyard folks think of sacramentally, even though neither camp really uses that term. I’m using the term here to refer to any activity or even disposition in which these camps see God as uniquely and positively active. They are the bread-and-butter ways we can cooperate with God and his work among us. While both AA and the Vineyard tend to take a broad sacramental view of most of life, every movement has activities or dispositions which it prioritizes and which shape its life and service, and the Vineyard and support groups are no exceptions. This series isn’t intended to be exhaustive on the sacraments of these movements; I just want to highlight some practices or attitudes that have become very special to these two movements, which I deeply respect, and maybe give myself and others some of their “good infection” from the discussion. Feedback from all is welcome, particularly those who have some experience with one or more of these traditions.
The first sacrament I want to mention could fall under the broad category of ‘honesty’ which each group practices uniquely. This post will look at how the priority shapes the Vineyard; the next post will look at AA & honesty.
There are several ways that the practice of honesty shapes what Vineyard churches do and, more so, how they do it. The most obvious is the casual, come-as-you-are approach to dress, style of speech, and style of music. Even when performing the miraculous or experiencing intimacies with God the Vineyard is known for speaking in the native language of the people involved. The phrase “naturally supernatural” came to embody this value in the movement. Whether in teaching, healing, praying, singing, or expelling demons, no one needs to put on airs or be what they aren’t or speak in King James English or a different tone of voice. And tracking with the great commandments, transparency in the Vineyard is seen as facilitating close relationships among people as well as with God. Many critics of the Vineyard assume that all the above practices are marketing-driven. While it’s true that has played a role in varying degrees, churches and times, the value is more driven by a desire for true intimacy–people sharing what they really are–with God and others, and this value has shaped everything in the Vineyard movement.