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Know Your Roots: The Origins of the Vineyard and the Radical Middle

Michael Gatlin

Michael Gatlin

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When most people step into a Vineyard church for the first time, they find it a very different experience from other churches they have known or visited. But at the same time, we find that quite often people also feel oddly at home with us. It doesn’t matter if they’re from a Catholic, Protestant, or no-church-of-any-kind background—people from all three seem to fit in surprisingly well.

There’s a reason for that. Even though the Vineyard movement is relatively new, our roots extend way back through the whole history of the church. And between the major western streams of Catholicism and Protestantism, we firmly and intentionally hold to a position somewhere in between—a place we like to call the radical middle.

Steve Nicholson is the senior pastor of the Evanston Vineyard, and a veteran of the Vineyard movement, but he is also something of a historian. He’s the kind of guy who keeps a stack of history books on his bedside table for light reading—you get the picture. So exploring the origins of the Vineyard in Christianity was a natural for him.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Steve is an excellent teacher. Steve taught the material in his home church in Evanston, and when I heard about it, I invited him to do the same for my home church, the Duluth Vineyard. And let me tell you, it’s good stuff. We had a lively question and answer session at the end of each day of the two-day seminar, and after everyone else had gone home, I still had more questions for Steve that turned into several fascinating late-night discussions. Unfortunately, neither of us thought to hit record on their phones, so we’ll never hear those gems from the wee hours. But all the rest of Steve’s talks are not only recorded, but we’ve uploaded them to Vimeo, so that everyone can hear this stuff. Check it out—believe me, it’s worth it.

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