Last week I was at annual national leaders conference for my denomination, and I posted some thoughts about the benefits of being in a denomination.
I came to this time with other vineyard pastors with the stir in the blog world caused by Tony Jones, and his post on Lonnie Frisbee and the vineyard.
I'm not going to post/respond to what seemed like an indolent villification designed to attract comments (other than of course, that being a response in itself). Jason Coker provided one of the more thoughtful responses I've seen, and I would point you to his post here.
But the discussions did make me think about the ups and downs of the VIneyard movement, and my own 22 years involved with it, with my own ebb and flow.
So coming to our national conference with that in mind, it was timely to have Caleb Maskell, in a main conference session, a trained church historian (Princeton University) and vineyard church planter, reviewing our own history, and asking if there was 'any move left in our movement'?
His review was encouragingly and necessarily critical, exploring some of what has given rise to the more painful transitions of the vineyard, and it was hopeful, in that it asked us to consider what would be required for us to be more than a renewal movement of the past, and located that within a traditioned and scriptured possibility. Caleb also exhorted us to undertake the necessary reflection and work, and thinking theologically, that such a possibility would take.
I was reminded again, and grateful at that point for how Todd Hunter and Vineyard, back in 1999, had stimulated that questioning process for me, that led to the theological exploration, and emerging church journey I have been on since then.
The new Society of Vineyard Scholars meeting this month, seems to offer a recapitulation of those earlier initiatives, but perhaps this time with our movement more ready to undertake the reflection that Caleb ha pointed us to.
Our national director, John Mumford (twitter link here), the night before Caleb spoke, had ably reminded us of 10 values/practices and distinctives of what made many of join and stay part of the Vineyard, that was exciting to hear again, as the re-telling of your most important values always are.
So with those values still in mind, then hearing Caleb's challenge/call to our movement, my thoughts immediately turned to how those 10 distinctives might be run against some of the necessary theological questions of evangelicalism/emerging culture that the emerging church conversation has raised over the last 10 years?
So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to do a few things here. I'm going to review Caleb's analysis of vineyard decline, and possibilities in more detail, outline those 10 values John Mumford provided us with, and then run those 10 things against my best understanding of some of the theological questions that have arisen for evangelicalism in the past 10 years.
I hope that results in a re-articulation of those 10 values, and offers in some small way the beginnings of a response to Caleb's challenge to us, of what might be need to move from renewal to being an ongoing movement.