Doing Church - Alexander Venter
All believers are aware of their common belonging to the family of God, and are faithful to it, nevertheless, John used the expression "to be in the family", contrasting it with another phrase - "to be a friend of the family." These two approaches expressed the difference between those who belonged to the Vineyard and were completely loyal to him, and those who simply loved the Vineyard and enjoyed his experience and revelations. Being part of a family Being part of a family means knowing for sure that God has placed you in this particular part of the Body of Christ. But how can you be sure of this? God must speak to you in one way or another, and in one way or another the leaders of a particular church must confirm this revelation from God. In no case should such a decision be taken unilaterally. From a human point of view, the person within himself simply knows that this is his home, because he identifies himself with the vision and values of this church. How to find out? Through mutual connections. Sometimes a person just instinctively realizes that he has come home. But this does not mean that you do not need to research leaders and people in order to understand what they are and, as a result, make a conscious and responsible decision. Some of the Vineyard churches help people go through this process through a course called "Church Acquaintance." However, the main goal of the course is to connect people with each other through relationships. When a person joins a family, he adopts the family's last name, which symbolizes loyalty to that family and a decision to take responsibility for it, enjoy its privileges, inherit its property, and recognize blessings and disciplinary requirements. This applies both to individuals who join local Vineyard churches and to pastors and churches who become part of the Vineyard Movement. (When a local church joins the Vineyard, we call it affiliation, and this will be discussed below.) Before we begin to discuss what it means to be a friend of the Vineyard, we must reiterate that, from a biblical point of view, no one can consider himself part of the universal Church unless he is part of the local church. There can be no doubt that the very last disciple of Christ must be a devoted and faithful member of the local community of believers. God is a family person, and that is why He calls Himself Father. He is the Father of orphans, and He brings the lonely into His family, and “the rebellious remain in the sweltering wilderness” (see Psalm 67: 6-7). The lonely, we believe, must respond to God with their consent to join His family, otherwise they too will fall under the category of "rebellious." In this regard, I involuntarily remembered the unclean spirits that come out of a person, their “home”, and then walk through waterless places, seeking rest (see Luke 11:24). Sadly, this is how many and many resentful, wounded, disillusioned and homeless Christians behave, a product of modern consumer Christianity. How sad! But what applies to the individual also applies to the local church. Independent churches should be part of the family of churches for their own good, so that they have someone to report to and someone to take care of them.