We are a community of faith communities on the Canadian landscape, discerning our "step by step" journey as a faithful Christian presence in society, serving our neighbourhoods, civic spaces, indigenous lands and peoples, provinces, territories, nation, and world with the shared faith and resources God has entrusted to us.
We do it all in the name of Jesus.
Riffing on Jesus' description of faith community as a vine and branches, one of the earliest architects of its expression described Jesus' church as a body. There are many parts. There is much diversity. The discovery for us is not how we can all do the same things, but rather, where we fit. Here's one of Paul's thoughts in 2 Corinthians 10:13–18 from The Message:
We aren't making outrageous claims here. We're sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We're not moving into someone else's "territory." We were already there with you, weren't we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?
We're not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. What we're hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you'll play a part within our expanding work. And we'll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. "If you want to claim credit, claim it for God." What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference.
Simply put, this whole thing looks like communal obedience to Christ: saying "yes" to Him and then being faithful. "Let's just stay in our lane" is one way we say it. Being comfortable in our own skin allows us to play our part within the larger universal Church without pretense, competition or the need to perform. We love the whole church.
Strung between novelty and nostalgia, a biblical imagination remembers forward. The remembering enjoined by the Torah looks forward to aJames K. A. Smithtime to come(Deuteronomy 6:20). The biblical command to remember is written in the future tense.
The way ahead is the way behind us.Terry LeBlanc
In the 1980's the Holy Spirit began to grab the attention of people scattered across the evangelical community in Canada. People once skittish of a more expressive Christianity, both in the work of the Holy Spirit and corporate worship expression, began to step out of the box and collide with the sensibilities of their various denominational structures and polity.
Indeed, this was happening beyond the Canadian context in many parts of the world. This surge among conservative evangelicals became known as the "Third Wave", a child of the Pentecostal Movement which began in the 1920's and the Charismatic Movement with its genesis in the 60's.
From coast to coast we began to find each other. A sense of common worship, fresh articulation of Kingdom Theology, and taking the risk to actually "do" the works of Jesus, not just read about, or assent to them, drew us together.
We found each other in this emerging church movement called The Vineyard, and soon began to rally around not just common practice, but in community.
In 1995, there had been enough momentum within Canada to see a standalone Association of Vineyard Churches developed and released into the growing international family of The Vineyard.
Over the last several years we've discovered some macro themes that shape what we're reading, how we're training, our content development and our leadership strategies. Here's what it looks like:
We seek first God's kingdom and His justice on the earth: The Jesus way.
but seek first His kingdom and his righteousness [justice] and all these things will be given you as well.Matthew 6:33
We are co-heirs with, surrender to, and follow the historical and risen Jesus. He is truth revealed. He's who we die for. His reign is the kingdom of heaven come and He remains the preeminent of the Church.
Jesus answered,John 14:6I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.Revelation 3:19–20
All is added from here. Discipleship. Equipping. Community. Service. This kingdom defines who we are together as Jesus' Church. This is a relational realm, a way of being, a faithful presence sustained under the governing and care of King Jesus.
Jesus replied,Matthew 16:17–19Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
This requires that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is a way of life, not just pithy principles. There are no secret codes or manipulation here, just a tenacious obedience borne of love.
To love Jesus is to say
yes to His invitation to follow Him into all the upsidedownness of His kingdom ways.
To follow Him is to walk in the way of friendship with even our enemies, becoming like Him in incarnation, death, and resurrection.
Let the kingdom come and His will be done. Here.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing... As the Father has loved me, so have I love you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one that this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know His masters business. Instead, I have friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.John 15:5–15
Bells when struck continue to ring. Tuning forks of the same pitch, when just one is struck, will eventually vibrate completely in sync. This is known as sympathetic resonance.
This phenomenon seems to capture the relational essence of how we journey together in the Canadian Vineyard Tribe. We resonate with these ten ideas distilled from "classic Vineyard" values and our current theological conversations and praxis.
We see the poor and marginalized in the centre of Christian community, not relegated to targeting, outreach, or tokenism. The key question is: "Are you willing to welcome?" not "How many food hampers did you deliver?"
We welcome each voice, life perspective, and insight, no matter how vulnerable or weak, into the heart of communal discourse as we all wrestle with our idolatry, addictions, vices, and brokenness, discovering hope and freedom in Christ. We are all at some level beggars simply helping each other find bread.
Walk with a limp
We value leadership that "walks with a limp." Wisdom gleaned from experience, vulnerability, truth telling (i.e. the capacity to say "sorry" as much as to lead unapologetically), and servanthood inviting co-creation are all hallmarks of leading. This posture allows us to restore gently, lead compassionately, and not need to be the centre of attention. Things are "caught as much as taught", and "our whisper is a shout."
Everyone gets to play
We are suspect of hierarchy, yet willingly embrace catalytic leadership that never graduates from servanthood and equipping others, opening a generous space where "everyone gets to play."
A Prophetic People
As kingdom people we are prophetic in nature, a signpost of God's activity in our world as we embody the message of the kingdom come. We pledge allegiance to Jesus above all systems, governments and powers. Listening is more key than speaking; integrity of action is as critical as declaration. In the cultivation of this prophetic ethos, we acknowledge that the presence, voice, and empowering of the Spirit of God comes like a rain, not like water from a single spout. He speaks to the church, through the church, to the world. All voices can resonate with His. Discernment is communal.
Response – non-hype
Our vision, missional engagement, and liturgical expressions respond to God's leading, not to our initiation: meekness, not the leveraging of power, compassion not institution, relationship not method.
Come Holy Spirit
Our vision, missional engagement and liturgical expressions must be shaped, led, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
The in-breaking kingdom of heaven
The Triune God is Creator. The creation, both heaven and earth, is in the process of being made new: aching for the return of Jesus and the liberation of all God's children, the final healing of the created order. We embrace an audacious faith, daring to believe this new creation is breaking in all around us, reconciling and redeeming all things. Therefore we see creation care; the healing of mind, soul, body and spirit — both the miraculous and the misericordia — at the core of the good news of the gospel of the kingdom.
We are a people of "presence" — expectant in worship, aware of both the "in us" and "with us," resident and manifest, empowering and sending, ubiquity of God. From experiencing His presence, we become His presence in the world. Incarnating a new social order, we challenge the powers and systems of the age, embrace the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes as a way of life and engage in the hard justice work of the in-breaking gospel of the kingdom. Doing what we see the Father doing.
Our hands are open; our posture is to wait. Our default is generosity with our resources, relationships, systems and structures. Whether gathered or scattered: this is the Father's House, Jesus is our Centre and we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our end game is obedience not sacrifice. Risk is how we spell faith. The spirit of invitation is our guide.
We believe: that the incarnation of Jesus, His life on earth, and his subsequent crucifixion and resurrection really mean something. He is the way, all the way to the cross. His journey and vocation lead us deeper into what it means to be fully human, here, on earth. Receiving the dunamis of the resurrection and walking in Spirit-filled communion, we remain naturally supernatural. Our faith is cultivated in the soil of real life experience and expressed via: art, innovation, entrepreneurship, husbandry, and stewardship of the planet. We share. When one weeps we all weep. When one rejoices we all rejoice. We come together because we can't make it alone.
Vineyard Canada is part of a global family. Lloyd Rankin, who directs Vineyard New Zealand with his wife Vicki, says it this way:
The most powerful (though not the only) picture of the church is a family. It is not however, the western nuclear family, (dad mum and the kids) but rather the extended grown-up family which consists of many nuclear families, with a connection of clan/tribe name, nature and shared history...
There is a significant difference between afamily of churches with a purposeand a network of related churches. A family has a much deeper commitment to each other, in a similar way that a single man and single woman cheerfully and voluntarily give up some of their individual autonomy in order the have the greater privilege of marriage. In a family of churches we ask each individual church to cheerfully and voluntarily give up some of the freedom of being an autonomous church in order to become part of something bigger and more effective — a movement, clan or family of churches.
In 2015 we embarked on a robust review, "From Silos To Integration," resulting in a cohesive and integrated approach to leadership and infrastructure. Our National Directors, The Hub Team, Board of Directors, National Counsel, Regional Leadership Teams and Initiative Catalysts are interconnected pods of leadership working together to serve the Canadian "tribe." #VTribe
It looks like this:
David Ruis and Anita Ruis have served the #VTribe family in this role since 2015.
The Hub Team
On the ground support is provided by the members of the Hub Team, which is currently based in Kelowna, BC.
Board of Directors
Far beyond being a legal requirement to operate as a non-profit in Canada, our Board is guided by relational equity and a deep commitment and connection to the Canadian #VTribe at a local level. As a unit they are integrated with all the other players that make up our National Team and participate in all strategic gatherings. They are our window into discovering the wisest way forward in mobilizing our resources to underwrite the movement. We invite a wide scope of experience and expertise into our board dynamic. We have pastoral representation, as well as those with business acumen, non-profit experience, and an understanding of politics and policy, both civic and within the church. A great team!
By providing a sounding board and support to the National Directors, the Counsel speaks into the movement through wisdom and accountability.
Regional Leadership Teams
Vineyard Canada is composed of five regions, each of which has its own team to connect communities, provide leader care and coaching, and cultivate the #VTribe vibe across the country.
We have identified 5 National Initiatives. Each initiative creates space for dialogue, co-creation, and innovation to generate vision, content, and on-ramps for participation. We have created groupings of related disciplines which glean from one another, ensuring that our Canada-wide efforts are synchronized. At this stage of our development each of these roles is volunteer. The five are as follows:
This Initiative brings together people who care deeply about, and are gifted to equip us in theological reflection and spiritual formation. This is a "cradle to the grave" approach, so our child, youth, and young adult facilitators sit at the same table with our theologians and spiritual directors to give us a holistic and lifelong approach to discipleship.
We develop systems to ensure our equipping and implementation are relationally based and sustained. Community is at our core. We embrace the risk-taking, innovative work of faith community establishment and development in both the Canadian and international contexts; we understand there is no lasting discipleship without community.
Deep in the roots of the Vineyard is the understanding that the expression of our faith through creativity and innovation is central to our gathered spaces, and that we are called to be a patron and protector of the arts. We want to be a safe place for artists, of all stripes and hues, to see their influence bring beauty and fresh life into our liturgy and spaces and to be a supportive community for those whose skills take them into the wider culture.
We are committed to becoming just communities, welcoming the gifts and voices of those who have been excluded. We inspire and empower Canadian Vineyard people to engage with justice locally, nationally, and globally: "setting things right" in our relationships and society.
This Initiative exists to awaken, facilitate, and equip prayer and prophecy among our Canadian Vineyards. We call out to God, seek to hear communally what the Spirit is speaking, and gather the themes and insights coming out of this rich soil.
Click the icons above to explore each initiative