Engaging at the Margins
The Spirit of God has imparted tools to the Vineyard that are uniquely suited for work at the margin. We are a 'missionary' movement; uniquely postured for pioneering works and planting churches in new places, or in new cultural settings. We are a ‘prophetic’ movement; uniquely positioned to move with power against oppression and injustice. We are a ‘compassion’ movement; uniquely equipped for a ministry of presence, comfort, and healing. Using our tools in the safety and security of already established Christian strongholds is like pulling nails with a hammer; certainly not bad, certainly useful, but not the primary purpose for which a hammer was made. The ‘business end’ of the hammer is the end that ‘does the business;’ the head that drives the nails. As a hammer’s primary purpose is driving nails, so too, the Vineyard’s primary purpose is to advance the Kingdom at the fringes and frontiers.

Our thesis then, is twofold. First, that the Kingdom response to suffering is always to embrace it. Second, that the Vineyard is uniquely equipped for ministry at the margins. The singular argument is that the Vineyard must engage in ministry to the impoverished, the disenfranchised, and the outsiders, if we are to be faithful to our unique, God-ordained, purpose. This ministry must be carried out in what has been called an ‘incarnational’ strategy. We must engage with presence. Sharing life together with those to whom we are called. Becoming one with them.

Theologian James K. A. Smith exhorted Vineyard Scholars to “drink deeply from our own wells.”In following his advice to “look for the genius in our own practices” we discover that the tools in the Vineyard tool-belt are for the cutting edge; we must engage those who languish on the margins. The Vineyard is uniquely positioned and equipped to advance the Kingdom at the fringes of the Church and of society. It is within the context of urban poverty that we explore the tools unique to Vineyard theology and praxis, or the ‘business end of the hammer.’

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