The Laissez-fair or “Fuzzy set” mode
This model is the key to an understanding of church that leads to a “phantom church.” Here, structure and definition are minimized and spontaneity overvalued.
Bounded set model
The second model is the bounded set where there is a very definite understanding of what it means to be inside and outside. There are a set of sometimes unwritten rules that determine who is part of the church. To belong, one has to follow these unwritten “rules”.
Centered set model
The third model, which we like to pursue, is the centered-set model. This is an understanding of the church where at the center as our focus is Jesus, the Bible and our particular values which express God’s particular calling to us. Membership is understood not in terms of being inside or outside but something much more dynamic. We understand that people might be at different distances from the values at the center but for us the important thing is not so much where they are presently but in which direction they are moving. We are all on a journey of being more definitely committed to our values and expressing them more fully.In this sense, John Wimber often taught that our values are rather like the sign on the front of the bus that indicates its destination. We welcome anybody getting on the bus provided they are clear as to where we are going and also want to head in the same direction as us! Again, to quote John Wimber, “You don’t join the Vineyard, but discover that you are Vineyard!” Hearing these values will bring forth different responses depending upon what the Spirit of God is doing in a particular person. We are aware that many will be called to different expressions of Christianity by God and we respect that. At the same time, we know that as some people hear us teach on these values, where we are going and what God has called us to, something deep inside of them will identify fully with this. In that regard, these values are caught not taught!
As Bob Fulton once said, “Go out and sing your song. When somebody comes saying that you are singing their song, then get together. Don’t try to teach somebody your song when they are singing another song.”
Can you tell we’re in the midst of a three-part core orientation for VCW? *grin* I love thinking about this stuff. Especially when I see how free people get. This is all about mercy and grace and God’s power to change lives. Who wouldn’t love that?