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about the barn

Encountering God

To encounter God is to experience the reality of His presence, love, and power. Our highest desire as a community of faith is to encounter Him by His Spirit repeatedly in a wide variety of ways. These God encounters form the center of our community life. The manifest presence of His sweet Holy Spirit among us is our constant desire.

Transforming Lives

Through encountering God in the context of a nurturing community, our lives are progressively transformed into Christ likeness. Jesus is the kindest, most loving person in the universe, and we are called to be like him. We offer many healing and discipleship ministries designed to foster healing and freedom for all those who are members at The Barn.

Nurturing Community

American society is broken and our families fragmented and unhealthy. The three other elements of our vision cannot be fully experienced outside the context of a nurturing community, a healthy spiritual family. We have a passion to provide a community where members are unconditionally accepted and loved – and where new people can easily join.

Living the Adventure

...and empowered evangelism. What we mean by “living the adventure” is for us to fully engage in taking the love and power of Jesus into the lives of others. We passionately want to know God, but, once we do, we passionately want to share Him with others. We do this through a variety of ministries, expressed within and outside the “four walls” of the church.

The number one value of The Barn is to know Jesus as Savior and to grow closer to Him as Lord. Our goal is that everyone who becomes part of The Barn Vineyard will develop an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter where they are in that relationship when they first join. Relationship with Jesus develops best in community though its foundation is built through a personal devotional life in prayer and feeding on God’s word. Through many training classes, study groups, discipleship/ministry opportunities, our relationship with Jesus grows stronger and our goal to give Him to others is fulfilled.

We believe that the Bible powerfully works in the lives of Christians on a daily basis. Therefore, we encourage personal Bible study and prayerful meditation on biblical truth as the foundation of this value. We also encourage learning the skill of hearing God’s voice through Scripture and in the Spirit, recording what we hear for further reflection and direction. We also encourage our members to receive much teaching, preaching, and personal study of biblical truth to produce understanding and application of the ways to the Lord in their lives.

The Bible instructs us to “pray on all occasions” (Colossians 4:2) and that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will make our paths straight.  Prayer is a high value in our church because we are convinced that prayer is the primary means through with God protects and empowers His people. We therefore practice being a “house of prayer” – a church where prayer saturates all we do. Our goal is that all ministries of the church, and all facets of church life, will enjoy the constant covering of day-and-night prayer. We encourage all our members to engage in this mission to be a house of prayer.

Worship is a major way we express our love to Jesus and enter His manifest presence. Worship is a value not only for our corporate meetings but also for our individual lives. In our corporate meetings we encourage freedom and diversity in worship. God calls us to worship with our hearts, minds, and strength: in other words, with our whole being. We desire, therefore, for people to feel free to express themselves to God through a variety of means found in the Bible – through singing, dancing, doing prophetic art, silence, clapping hands, shouting with joy, meditating, lifting their hands, etc. We also value depth of worship, which we try to accomplish by allotting a significant length of time for worship in our meetings. We also see worship as an appropriate context for the expression of spiritual gifts and other meeting contributions such as the reading of Scripture or intercessory prayer. At times we will continue worship but layer it with a call forward for personal ministry based on the direction of the Spirit.

In Luke 17:20, Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom of God was within them; and wherever they went after Pentecost, the kingdom flowed through them. We strongly believe, therefore, that every Christian is a minister of the Gospel, not just those recognized or employed as “ministers.” All of us are called to both witness to and demonstrate the Kingdom in and through our lives. We affirm and encourage the practice of all the gifts and ministries of the Father, Son, and Spirit as listed in Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 28. We encourage members to use their gifts in ministry to others – both inside and outside the church. We believe strongly that part of being a minister is constant growth in the Lord. Therefore we encourage personal discipleship and mentoring with mature believers. We also promote the training and instruction of our members through classes on a regular basis to strengthen the ministry of each believer in The Barn Vineyard Church. (Ephesians 4:12, 1 John 2:20)

Jesus told us that people would know we are Christians by the way we love one another. This is central to who we are and who we aspire to be at The Barn Vineyard. We strongly affirm fellowship and community life within our church. We want to create an atmosphere where people feel like they are part of a loving family. We want to be a spiritual home where people can experience love, friendship, and joy, and overall relational health. As part of our wider community, we value cooperation and holy relationships. In the world, relationships are often tools used for personal gain that result in hurt and disillusionment. We want to foster relationships in which each individual grows as a person and as a Christian. All of this works together to form unity (but not uniformity). We want to be a group of people who, though individually distinct, share a common faith, vision, and mission. Joining small groups, serving in different ministry situations, and attending whole-church get-togethers are some ways we are encouraged to build relationships here. (Hebrews 10:25, John 17:21-23, Romans 15:5, Ephesians 4:3, Proverbs 13:6)

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Because having faith alone is not sufficient, we believe that God’s call on our church is more than simply building a strong community with shared beliefs. We are also called to evangelize, to bear witness to our faith, to invite others into our own family of faith. We can do this in a variety of biblical ways. We can pray for our unsaved relatives, friends, and neighbors. We can give our testimony to a friend or proclaim the gospel to a crowd through music, arts, or preaching. We can show the mercy of God through good deeds of practical kindness and compassion. We can offer to heal the sick we encounter outside church meetings. When the Spirit directs, we give uplifting prophetic words to individuals to convey God’s heart to them.  We also give our time, energy, and money to support local and worldwide missions. Through our actions and words, we want to show others the love and power of God in a way that is meaningful to their lives and draws them to Him. (Mark 16:15-18, Matthew 5:13-16, 1 Peter 2:12)

We do not desire for our church life to be “religious,” hyped-up, or manipulated in any way. Living in reality and simplicity is a value of ours that we feel helps us maintain a level of normalcy that is healthy, without at the same time neglecting the supernatural dimension of life in the Spirit. One practical way in which we do this is through our church style—our informality (non-traditionalism) in meetings, and our casual dress. Our goal, therefore, is to be enough like the world in morally neutral ways to attract them to Jesus while still being thoroughly Christian in our attitudes and behavior. In other words, we desire to be culturally relevant and appealing without sacrificing the integrity of the gospel message in any way. In Jesus’ interactions with people we see His ability to be “natural” and “supernatural” at the same time. We aspire to a similar naturally supernatural lifestyle for our church. We want people outside of our church to know we are average, normal people who are following an amazing, all-powerful God (2 Corinthians 4:7, 1 Corinthians 9:22).

The Barn Vineyard Church believes that Jesus’ mission was to bring all forms of salvation (wholeness) to humanity through His atonement on the Cross. Our church’s responsibility is to continue that mission in His name. We understand that the healing He released by means of His “stripes” (wounds) produced both spiritual (1 Peter 2:24) and physical (Matthew 8:16-17) salvation. We believe all Christians are empowered by the Spirit to bring healing to the sick and to cast out demons when the need arises (Mark 16:15-18). We therefore offer ongoing training and regularly engage in the ministries of biblically based inner healing, deliverance, healing of physical sickness, and healing of relationships and families.

While part of the worldwide Vineyard movement, The Barn Vineyard Church is also proactively working to create and grow connections with other Christian churches in our area and region. We believe the many “streams” in the Church express various aspects of the triune God, and that His fullness is revealed corporately when various churches promote the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We also believe that from this oneness centered in Jesus, churches can and should worship, pray, and minister together to impact their communities and release renewal, revival, and societal transformation.

We affirm the ministry of both genders in our church. We believe the Scriptures teach that Christians qualify for ministry on the basis of calling, gifting, and maturity, and that no Christian should be disqualified from any ministry in the church based on gender, age, race, or economic status. We also encourage younger and older to work together in unified ministry (Acts 2:17, acts 21:19, Romans 16:17). We invite our younger members to minister alongside adults. And we exhort our older members to make use of God’s long-term investment in them to bring forth much good fruit for Him!

Political Involvement at The Barn

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, because you are all united in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).With these words, God declared through the apostle Paul the abolition, in Christ, of the three great dividing walls in the ancient world. In our world today, we believe the apostle may have legitimately added “and neither Republican nor Democrat.”

Before Any Earthly Allegiance, We Are Citizens of Heaven

How should Christians at The Barn respond to the political realities of our nation? A simplistic answer would be to say that a real Christian must be (or cannot be) a Republican, or that a real Christian must be (or cannot be) a Democrat. While some Christians in America think this way, we question whether this perspective is scriptural. While Barn leaders do not judge those who take this position, we have arrived at a different understanding of how our members may see their political engagement through a distinctly biblical lens. We do not mandate that all our members must hold this view, but we offer it as a fair description of the community value we will practice when our church engages in political involvement. As to individual members, we understand that how we choose to believe or vote regarding political issues does not mean we must all stand in total alignment with one political party’s stated or implied views. We can and should vote our conscience without being required to endorse all planks of one party’s platform or condemn all planks of another party’s platform. We further believe that Barn members with differing political perspectives can and indeed should find their unity not in those perspectives but in their common salvation though the finished work of Jesus Christ and doctrines related to that salvation.

Let’s first assert that we agree with Paul that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). To us, this statement implies that Christians owe their primary allegiance to the values and standards of God’s “kingdom of heaven,” that new kind of reality brought to earth by Jesus, to be visibly lived out by His Church. We could call this “the party of God’s kingdom.” The values of this kingdom are essentially apolitical because they are higher and “other” than national political party declarations. Jesus said in John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world.” By that He meant that no structure, system, or party of this fallen world could contain or manifest the fullness of His heavenly kingdom. Great confusion and misguided action result when Christians misunderstand the true nature of the kingdom of God in contrast to the political kingdoms of this world. The values of the kingdom of God stand over and above all worldly values. They reflect God’s heart, accord with His word, and define His ideal for all aspects of human life. They have existed before and will exist far beyond the life of any earthly political party or worldly government. If people choose to label those kingdom values politically “left,” “right,” or “center,” they may do so. But let’s understand that those political labels must be regarded as humanly created, not divinely designated. Kingdom values are the “real;” political positions are, at best, pale and partial reflections of the real. As a church, we choose to see all politics through this “kingdom lens.” We choose to champion the values of the kingdom without compromise or apology. How those values we embrace are viewed, described, or categorized politically is quite secondary.

“Left” or “Right” Political Labels: Not Relevant

Therefore, whether we define ourselves as Republican, Green Party, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Other, or None, the high call of Barn members is to represent the values of the kingdom of God in all contexts. This means that we hold to “heavenly” beliefs—beliefs aligned with heaven, expressed as biblical truth—and will articulate and advocate for them within or outside of the imperfect political structures in our nation. We therefore speak and act from a perspective that is neither “left” nor “right” but is “loving” and “righteous,” sourced from the “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” that is at the heart of God’s kingdom (Romans 14:17). As individuals and as a church body, we will speak and live out God’s truth through love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24) toward everyone (“Love your neighbor as yourself”). We may do this politically by voting for specific major party candidates, by voting for a third-party candidate, or, from a position of conscientious objection, by not voting at all. (While voting is a honored privilege for American citizens, it is not a biblically based command.)

In practice, this means that The Barn holds as true some beliefs and practices that might be called politically “right,” and other beliefs and practices that might be called politically “left.” Let’s examine some of these.

The Barn is Thoroughly Pro-Life

One of The Barn’s core kingdom values is to advocate for the fullness of life in all its expressions, both natural and spiritual. This implies that we practice wise stewardship of the natural world, work to lessen the challenges of hunger and homelessness, and, especially, that we champion the cause of preserving human life from womb to tomb. From this perspective we work to eliminate abortion of preborn babies. From its inception, the Christian Church has held to this ethical position. While we grant that Barn members have some disagreement surrounding the issue of abortion (Can a child be aborted to save the mother’s life? Exactly when does “ensoulment” of the unborn human occur?), we are united in standing in opposition to abortion on demand or abortion as a means of birth control. We view abortion for these reasons as evil, sinful, the wanton destruction of pre-born human life, though of course we also assert that God loves and wishes to heal those who have aborted their babies. From an American political perspective, holding this position places us into the “right” category, typically identified with the Republican party. If this is the perception, then on the “right” we stand in this case. But if being anti-abortion was regarded instead as being on the “left,” then on the left we would resolutely stand. Our belief is primary; its political label is secondary.

The Barn Opposes Racism in All Forms

The Barn is committed to being anti-racist and has been from our beginning as a small house church. We continue to pray toward our goal of being a fully multi-racial church. We uphold the biblical truth that all humans are of equal worth before God because all are made in His image and objects of His redeeming love. Therefore, we believe that all racism is evil. Some would assert that this anti-racist position places us into the political “left” category, typically associated with the Democratic party. If so, then on the “left” we stand in this instance. But if being anti-racist was regarded as right-wing instead, then right-wing we would gladly be. Our belief is primary; its political label is secondary.

The Barn Supports Protest but Opposes Violence

We believe it is the constitutional right of Americans to protest grievances peacefully and to work to promote a just and free society for all citizens. Proverbs 31:8-9 provides biblical support for this right: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Protesting, even peacefully, to promote justice for the poor or socially marginalized is seen by some as leftist, even Marxist–labels we strongly reject. We also believe that if protests for any reason become violent, then that violence should be lawfully contained by law enforcement authorities, and all lawbreakers must be held accountable. This is regarded as a position on the “right” by some. We gladly embrace both these kingdom truths even though one is considered politically “left” and the other “right.”

The Barn Welcomes but Does Not Affirm LGBTQplus Lifestyles

While we warmly welcome members of the LGBTQ community to attend our public church functions, the Barn does not affirm LGBTQ lifestyles or marriages as biblically sanctioned. Moreover, we expect our members not to practice or advocate for such lifestyles or marriages among us. We must do this, however, always in an environment of the absence of hate and the presence of Christlike love. As Christians, we certainly cannot be expected to affirm all kinds of human lifestyles, but we can love and treat with kindness the humans who engage in them. We are therefore also committed to defending and upholding the lawful human rights of LGBTQ persons in American society, provided of course that those rights are legitimately practiced in ways that do not violate the human rights of others. The first assertion can be seen as politically “right,” and the second as “left.”

The Barn Upholds the Poor and the Rich

One more example of our “no labels” political perspective is this: In alignment with thousands of scriptures in the Bible, The Barn wishes to demonstrate in action the same compassionate concern for the poor shown by God Himself. We believe that “those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors Him,” and that “what we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus” (Proverbs 14:31, Matthew 25:40). Some would label this value “left” because it advocates for the poor and marginalized, traditionally a Democratic emphasis. We gladly embrace it. On the other hand, we believe that, rightly understood, abundant prosperity in all areas of life, including finances, is God’s heart for humanity (1 John 2). As a result, some Christians will be “rich” with this world’s resources. (We also believe that God has called some of His servants to lives of financial simplicity, even voluntary poverty, but that this is a special call from God, not normative for believers.) Because we affirm that we are heirs of God’s abundance toward us, this stand may be regarded as supporting the rich, which is viewed as a “right,” Republican position. We gladly embrace this truth as well.

We Will Educate but Not Mandate

The entire list of opposing “right/left” political stands held by The Barn is substantial. We do not champion them all overtly as a church, however, because our mission is not to be a “political church” involved in political advocacy pre-dominantly. We assert that some churches have that call, but we do not. Yet when we sense the Spirit calling us to take action as a church on a political position, either right or left, we will obey Him. We refuse to paint any political party with the broad brush of “godly” or “ungodly,” “of God” or “of the devil.” In our view, each major American party contains a mix of godly and ungodly elements when compared to the values of the kingdom of God. We will not be secretive about our positions and will gladly articulate them when asked to do so, especially when we sense a need in our church for their public expression. When we are called to hold strong views on political issues, we will inform our membership, particularly prior to major elections. We will represent kingdom values as we understand them when we review these political postures. However, we will not mandate or even strongly suggest how our members should vote. That will be a matter of conscience between God and them. We will encourage our members to search the scriptures and listen to God’s Spirit to reach their own conclusions in these important but not-essential-to-salvation areas of biblical truth. Like Paul, we want us all not to “think like a child,” but to “think as mature men and women” (1 Co.13:11), seeking to align our thoughts with the mind of Christ, summed up succinctly by the first and second great commandments: “Love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our Call: Bring Heaven to the Earth

The Barn is called to represent God’s kingdom within the realities of a fallen world, to radiate His Spirit wherever we go. Will God’s kingdom ever come perfectly on the earth? Yes, but only when Jesus returns as rightful king of the planet. Until then, we citizens of heaven can and will pray and work to release the kingdom of heaven everywhere, in political structures or apart from them. And to maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3),” we choose to honor and not to judge one another’s political stands. As led by the Spirit, The Barn Vineyard Church will continue to teach and uphold kingdom causes, grounded in scripture and reflecting His love.

We believe that the Bible is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity and the story of His dealings with humanity; that it points to the way to salvation through Jesus of Nazareth; that He inspired biblical authors to write the Bible perfectly and error-free (it is “inerrant”) in its original manuscripts; that biblical doctrines, properly interpreted, are authoritative, fully relevant, and applicable to contemporary life; and that the Bible (those canonical books of the Old and New Testament Scriptures) contains all things necessary to be believed for salvation.

We believe that there is only one true God, Who is both infinite and personal; that He exists as three Persons in perfect unity, often referred to as “The Trinity;” that this triune God exists as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Spirit 
(The Holy Spirit).

We believe that over 2000 years ago God came to Earth as a human – Jesus Christ – to save humanity from the power of sin and death; that Jesus existed as God before He came to earth and continues to exist as God through all eternity; and that Jesus by birth assumed a fully human nature and became forever the God-man, with both natures fully united as one in Him.

We believe that Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit as the unique Son of God the Father; that He was born of Mary, a virgin, in the household of Joseph; that He was anointed as God’s Messiah, Savior, and King; that He was empowered by the Holy Spirit; and that, in perfect accord with the will of God the Father, He proclaimed and inaugurated God’s New Covenant Kingdom reign on the earth.

We believe that humanity’s salvation from sin, sickness, and death comes as a free gift from God received by grace through faith in what Jesus did as humanity’s savior.  This “faith” believes that Jesus lived a sinless life, spilled His blood on the cross to 
pay the penalty for our sins, died, was buried, was bodily raised from the dead on the third day, and appeared to numerous eye-witnesses before His ascension.

We believe that after His resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven to be with His Father; that He sent the Holy Spirit to Earth to pour God’s power and presence into His church; that He will return to this planet personally, visibly, and bodily at the Father’s designated time as His anointed King and as the Righteous Judge of the living and the dead; and that those who trust in Him will experience eternal life in glorified resurrection bodies like His and will dwell together with God in the New Heavens and the New Earth according to the eternal plan of God the Father.

Laying on of Hands:  We believe that the practice of laying on of hands is a divinely instituted means by which God imparts the fullness of the Spirit, spiritual gifts, healing, blessing, and ordination for ministry.

Baptisms:  We believe that the Holy Spirit baptizes new believers into the Body of Christ; that the church administers baptism in water for followers of Jesus; and that the Lord oversees baptisms of the Spirit and of fire for the empowerment and cleansing of His church.

The Lord’s Supper:  We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded that all believers regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and we delight in celebrating this ordinance by which we proclaim the gospel, enhance congregational unity, and receive God’s empowering grace.

Understanding the history of The Barn sheds light on who we are now, and on where we are going. God has been gracious to us over the years. We have grown close by enjoying many amazing experiences together in Him. This is why you can feel the family-like atmosphere when we gather. But we are not a closed family.  Our doors are open to those God would join to us.  We welcome the possibility that you too will become part of our adventure in Jesus!

We formally adopted into the Association of Vineyard Churches, USA, in February of 2003. For twenty-five years prior to this affiliation, we were Newark Christian Fellowship (NCF), a non-denominational charismatic church founded by Bruce and Lynn Latshaw when they were University of Delaware students. Like the original Vineyard churches started by John Wimber in southern California, NCF was founded as a result of the Jesus Movement of the early 1970’s. Gathered by God’s Spirit in a non-traditional church setting, we began 
as a meeting of ex-hippies and other young Christians. First we met in a campus apartment, then in a townhouse in Newark, DE, and, over time, at different leased facilities. Our original name was New Ark Community, reflecting our view of ourselves as a tightly knit spiritual family of Christians.

In 1980, we moved from Newark into the newly built horse barn on this land near Kemblesville, PA, Meeting in concentric circles and sitting on the floor, we continued to follow the Lord in a laid-back, informal style of church. Slowly, as funds came in, we finished converting “the Barn” from a real animal enclosure (yes, with goats, chickens, and horses!) to the offices and meeting facility it is today. Over the years we continued our numerical and organizational growth, creating a staff now consisting of multiple full-time pastors and several part-time staff volunteer ministers.