Have you ever wondered what makes The Vineyard different from other churches? Have you ever been asked, “What do you guys believe,” and beyond talking about Jesus and the bible, not known what to say? I know that feeling. I grew up in the Methodist Church and Nazarene Church (my mom and dad’s churches, respectively) and when I came here, I knew that The Vineyard felt like a nice melding of those two churches, but beyond that, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything else. That’s why I’ve decided to use this space to talk about Vineyard distinctives.

The first that I’m going to talk about piggybacks off of Steve’s sermon this last Sunday: Everybody gets to play. I remember being a kid and being scandalized that until very recently (this was the 1970s), Catholics had not been able to read the bible because it was only available to them in Latin. They would have to go to daily mass to hear the priest read from the bible, and that was all that they got. I couldn’t imagine not being able to just pick up my bible and read whatever I wanted to read. I can also remember visiting churches where the roles within the church were very clearly demarcated and no one stepped over those lines: Bob prayed with others during prayer times, but Susan never would think about doing that. Karen was the evangelist – don’t even try to evangelize if you aren’t Karen.

John Wimber didn’t believe that should be the case. He believed that a church should equip all of it’s members, pastors and laity, to do all of the work in the church. The idea that everybody gets to play builds upon the evangelical concept of the priesthood of all believers; that is, that God is equally accessible to all of the faithful and all believers have the potential to minister for God. In Acts 1:8 and in the writings of Paul we learn that all Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and that alone empowers us to be both witnesses and gives us the power to heal, to make petitions for others in God’s name, and to be the ministers to the masses.

Another aspect of this is that the church functions at its best when everyone identifies and uses all of their giftings. God has made us part of a body and each part is necessary for the complete function of that body (1 Cor 12:12 – 31). There are those that are gifted in evangelism and those that are not. Those that are wonderful at extending hospitality, and those who are not. It is only when all of these parts come together that the church becomes truly complete and effective. If you look at Everybody Gets to Play in this way, it become less about permission and more of a mandate. We all need to play to effectively bring Christ to the world.

Here is a short video where Phil Strout, Vineyard USA National Director, shares on what it means that “everyone gets to play.”