Vineyard distinctives. These aren’t necessarily things that only the Vineyard do, but rather, they are practices that the Vineyard emphasizes. These are non-negotiables. These are values of the Kingdom. These are what we do and what we believe. One of these Vineyard distinctives that I absolutely love and cherish is “Partner with the Holy Spirit.” It sounds so good, right? Isn’t it something that all churches should be doing? I do believe that all churches are doing this, and many of the other Vineyard distinctives, but the emphasis and articulation of these practices then becomes the DNA of the Vineyard identity.
What does it look like to partner with the Holy Spirit?
One of my favorite passages of the Bible is Peter’s speech to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4. Before he speaks, Luke says that he is full of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit’s prompting and filling up in Peter that really allows Peter to have this boldness to speak the Gospel truth to these men of the Scriptures.
Or how about another instance where it’s the Holy Spirit guiding Philip to this random desert to have an encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. It is only because of God that Philip goes to this place at the hottest time of the day to have an evangelistic meeting.
John Wimber once said, “Power evangelism isn’t about adding to the Gospel or seeking to add power, but rather turning to the Holy Spirit in our evangelistic efforts and consciously cooperating with his anointing, gifting and leading.”
I believe that this expression goes hand-in-hand with another Vineyardism “Come Holy Spirit.” Because when we invite the Holy Spirit into places, we’re really welcoming the Spirit’s randomness and boldness. It was through the Holy Spirit that men and women in the Bible had the willingness to do the will of God. It was through the Holy Spirit that lives can be changed for the Kingdom of God.
Partnering with the Holy Spirit, if I’m being honest here, is sometimes messy. I look at some of these Bible stories of Jesus doing the will of the Father, full of the Spirit, and it gets him in a lot of trouble with some of these learned men. He’s simply following the prompting of the Spirit, and people questioned him. He got in all kinds of trouble for healing on the Sabbath, but that’s just how Jesus did it.
Because the Spirit is dynamic and moving in his mission of redemption of all (John 14:26), partnering with the Holy Spirit means that we’re getting out of our comfort zone. That’s the missional aspect of this expression. Because God is drawing all to himself, partnering with the Holy Spirit means that we’re going to be going out and doing stuff for the Kingdom. The whole idea of “I won’t pray for someone unless I feel led” is ridiculous. God is leading us to pray for all people. Partnering with the Holy Spirit means that we’re going to praying for all the sick, all the demonized, all the hurt, all the wounded, all the disenchanted, and everyone. The Holy Spirit is living and active in all over the world. When we partner with him, we’re going to be shaken and stirred for the greater things of the Kingdom.
That’s definitely an unnerving idea. We like our stable lives. We like homeostasis, right? We want everything to remain to remain the way it has always been. But that’s not that exciting. What I love about this idea of partnering with the Holy Spirit is that because I am following the God on the move, I too am on the move. Partnering with the Holy Spirit means that we don’t try to force our own ideals upon situations or even that we try to somehow force God into that situation. When we truly are partnering with God, it means that we see what God is doing, and then we say, “Yeah, I want to be a part of that.”
I recently have been trying to figure out really these dynamics of partnering with the Holy Spirit. As I finish up my last year of seminary, I’m trying to see what God is doing in my life and in this crazy community. I’m looking around in Princeton, feeling called to plant here, and asking myself, “God, how do I partner with you in the things that you’re already doing?” The last thing that I want is to try and force anything. I’ve heard horror stories of churches that were planted for all the wrong reasons, whether it’s to satisfy the sending senior pastor’s dream of multiplying or simply because they were bored, and I believe that I’m being brought and called to this little town in New Jersey.
So how do we partner with the Holy Spirit?