Remember, people are the least lovable
when they need love the most.
In John chapter 13, Jesus gave his disciples what he called a “new” commandment. It was to love one another. He said it was the defining mark by which everyone would know that we were his disciples. Here at Shore Vineyard, through the indispensable value of honor, we allow love to come into our relationships and manifest itself.
Honor recognizes that every person has value. Each of us are made in the image of God and He instructs us to be kindly affectionate to one to another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor. Honor gives power to relationships by reducing fear. Honor allows freedom—freedom to be oneself, freedom to makes choices—including bad ones. We've noticed that where there is a lack of honor, there will always be an increase of fear. Honor is so important that to the degree we don’t honor an individual, we set limitations on how much of God’s gift we can actually receive from that individual.
Honor is demonstrated through consistent respect in word and action toward those we lead, follow, love and disagree with. While honor avoids controlling others, it also lovingly confronts, limits, and disciplines when necessary. But honor always looks to restore not penalize and disempower.
One of the main ways we keep honor alive among us is by remembering that there is more than one perspective in almost everything? And if we were always correct in our assessments there would be no such thing as blind spots.
We have received a spirit of adoption as sons; we are family now, and members of God's household. We are not our own; we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to one another. We are not free to get wounded, break relationship, and walk away.
We are part
of an eternal covenant community and we practice strengthening our connection
to one another by walking in humility and in gentleness, being patient with each other and bearing
with one another in love. Because it is love that covers
a multitude of sins and binds us together in perfect unity. We are not simply trying to grow a good
church. We are co-laboring with a God who
is building something eternal. Jesus prayed for our unity, knowing it would be his
followers’ wide-spread fragmentation that would keep the world from believing. So how do we implement this?
The strong among us have received a God-given obligation to bear
with the failings of the weak, and, if anyone has a grievance against someone
else, we forgive as Christ forgave us. We
don’t hold grudges. When problems occur, we stare fear, pain and offense in the
face, we identify what the real problems are, and we overcome them together. We are serious about growing in our ability to trust others, and growing in being
counted worthy of trust, in the eyes of others.
We are careful not to get disconnected, for when we do, we are vulnerable targets for the enemy. Within covenant, all parties assume the responsibility that we may have “to die” sometimes to protect what we have in our relationship. Like Jesus commanded, we lay down our lives for our friends. Without covenant, you’ll find that most will choose laying down their friends, for the sake of their lives.
We value teamwork and we lead by teams at every level in our church family. In the same way that the two individuals in a marriage are incomplete by God’s design and must tap into what the other one carries in order experience advancement and fulfillment, we see this as God’s ingenious plan for church leadership, as well as the family.
Furthermore, with intention, we work at not becoming a personality-driven church. We even take our team approach into a group-wide responsibility for our preaching. We have learned the importance of keeping Jesus in the position of our ultimate leader, not a charismatic “celebrity” pastor. This allows our church to enjoy hearing his voice coming through a variety of speakers.
We’ve discovered that the usage of teams gives our people the great benefit of experiencing different styles which flow not only from personality, but also from unique gifting—whether that be apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, teaching, or pastoral.
We believe God is eager to be known and experienced by all…searching for lost humanity in order to draw us into intimate relationship with Himself. In response to God’s initiative, we value the life-changing power of the experience of His presence.
The primary place where that relationship is nurtured and developed is in the act of worship – both private and corporate. So, experience-based worship is the central activity of all that we do in Shore Vineyard. It is worship that causes all else that we do to become an act of worship. We experience God’s presence as a palpable reality when we worship. As we worship we become increasingly sensitive and responsive to the Spirit’s presence so that we can do as Jesus did: “See what the Father is doing,” (John 5:19) and support His work with our lives.
The experience of God flowing out of a life of worship affects all aspects of our life so that all division between the secular and the sacred vanish. We believe that the Spirit distributes His gifts to us resulting in prophecy, prayer languages, healing, miracles and many other gifts as we joyfully experience His presence.
There is much talk of authority within church leadership today. And for those at the top, it often comes with fancy titles, elevated status, special perks, and lots of honor. When we study Jesus (who obviously understood true authority) it seems both his words and his ways were focused on modeling something quite different--something that would direct us from ever arriving at this problematic place.
On a night when the disciples were arguing over which one of them was considered to be the greatest, Jesus drops this bombshell.
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it
over them, and
their great ones exercise authority
over them. It shall not be so among you...
Here at Shore Vineyard we value displaying our great positions of strength, power, and authority over things like sickness, disease and demons, not over people. It seems quite clear to us that Jesus was concerned about something. Evidently, he did not want his people doing rank and rule according the the world's pattern. As a matter of fact, Jesus, later that same night with his disciples, obliterates the standard structures of traditional hierarchy in one "scandalous" act of humility.
Knowing that the Father had put all things under his
power...(Wow, now that sounds like he is a very qualified important authority figure) ...he gets up from the dinner table, strips down to his under garments, wraps a towel around has waist, and begins washing dirt of his followers feet. The scene seems so wildly out of place that one of them says, "I'm sorry, Jesus. I just can't let you do this to me" . To which Jesus replied, well, "If you don't get this part, I'm not sure you can have any part. That's how important this is."
Jesus flips the tables on the typical top-down, pride and control based leadership style. He vividly demonstrates to all coming after him that positions of true authority over people are about having the honor of recognizing their needs, and the power of serving them well. We believe the Earth is ready for more of this kind of authority.
Although we don't come to God with expectations, we do come full of expectancy. God is a powerful, triumphant winner; the devil is a defeated loser. God is in the business of transforming everyone and restoring everything. So why get stuck focusing on the battle when the outcome is not up for grabs? It's just a distraction.
We are in an ever-increasing relationship with a God who both speaks and acts, His Kingdom is continually advancing and with Him nothing is impossible. The supernatural is now an integrated part of our normal lives. The life-altering gifts of the Holy Spirit that were a fundamental part of Jesus' ministry, popularity, and controversy, has been given to the church. Love is our central and foremost interest as we take risks as sons and daughters, excited to release the power of the Kingdom and reveal the goodness of the Father. After all, Jesus promised that signs would follow us and we'd do greater works than he. Isn't it time we overturn injustice?