Rich Nathan

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Rich Nathan
Born 1955
New York City[1]
Occupation Pastor and Author
Spouse(s) Marlene Nathan

Rich Nathan (born December 1955) has been the senior Pastor of Vineyard Columbus since 1987. Nathan came to believe in Jesus at the age of 18.[2] Prior to pastoring, he was an assistant professor of business law at The Ohio State University for five years.[3] He has a Bachelor's degrees in history and religious studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. and a J.D. at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law in Columbus, Ohio.[3] Nathan has served on the National Board of Vineyard: A Community of Churches for more than a decade and is the Large Church Task Force Coordinator for the Vineyard.[3] He is a popular national and international conference speaker[3] and author of two books.[4] Nathan has been noted as one of the strongest voices in favor of the Third Wave Movement.[5][6]

Nathan has also been outspoken on the subject of faith and politics. In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, he was quoted as saying:

We think the Gospel has political implications, but it's not partisan. And we don't think that either the Republicans or the Democrats have the sole possession of the implications of the Gospel.[7]

Nathan has also been a major force for immigration reform, highlighting the issue in both sermons and op-eds. He advocates for a different plan than those traditionally offered for America's illegal immigrants, "a pathway to citizenship governed by a system of checks and balances."[8]

Vineyard Columbus[edit]

Vineyard Columbus (formerly Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Columbus and Vineyard Church of Columbus) is a church in Westerville, Ohio. It is part of the Association of Vineyard Churches with headquarters in Sugar Land, Texas.

Vineyard Columbus dates back as a church to the late-1970s. Three different churches joined together to form the first church. The church remained independent of any larger group for a number of years, and after investigating a number of groups to join with, the leadership of the church decided on the Association of Vineyard Churches, led by John Wimber. They became the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Columbus in 1987. Vineyard Columbus has experienced significant growth over the years, drawing over 9,000 people at its weekend worship services and becoming the largest church in the Vineyard movement today. It is a church that is self described as an "empowered evangelical" church, according to the definition in Rich Nathan and Ken Wilson's book Empowered Evangelicals that was published in the mid-1990s.

Theological foundation of Columbus Vineyard[edit]

An "empowered evangelical" is defined by Nathan and Wilson as someone who embraces the best of the Protestant evangelical stream of Christian belief and the best of the Charismatic stream of Christian belief. Vineyard as a church believes that the Bible is true, infallible, and the word of God. Vineyard affirms that Christians are called to tell others about how God is transforming the world through the cross and resurrection.

Vineyard affirms the Christian belief that repentance and faith in Jesus are the doorway into salvation and inner transformation. Nathan writes that evangelicals are empowered through the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as it was for the apostles of the First Century. This includes a belief in supernatural healing of physical and mental illnesses and miraculous signs.

Impact on Columbus and beyond[edit]

The actions of Vineyard in the life of the surrounding community are forged by a belief that God is not just forgiving sins and granting eternal life, but that He is also fixing what is broken in the world. The Vineyard teaches that the Kingdom of God is advancing and transforming the world. According to the theological position that the Vineyard takes, the Kingdom of God is God's reign and rule in the present world. As Christians partner with God to lead people to Jesus, feed the hungry, and comfort the hurting, God's Kingdom breaks into this world. Because of this view, Vineyard Columbus offers a full range of services to the community.

The church offers classes, prayer, sermons, and Bible study groups for growth in spiritual life. It also offers counseling, marriage training, and small group communities for growth in relationships. The church is host to a ministry training center known as Vineyard Leadership Institute,[9] as well as a young adult community called Joshua House.[10] Additionally, it serves the poor and the marginalized both in Columbus and worldwide.

Vineyard's members often pray for the sick and ask God to supernaturally bring healing. While the church actively seeks to see moral wholeness in the surrounding culture, it believes that the church is not here to be combative against its neighbors but to be gracious and giving like Christ. This view has been important in the development of many social programs, such as food pantries, day care, after school programs, ESL courses, as well as legal, medical, dental, and optometry clinics. Most of these programs are administered through a community center that Vineyard Columbus opened in 2006.

The original church in Westerville has planted 24 churches in since 1987,[11] including over a dozen in the Columbus area - all included in the Vineyard Movement. Vineyard also supports many Christian missionaries throughout the world.

Satellite Campuses[edit]

In 2009, Vineyard Columbus opened its first satellite campus, Vineyard Columbus Sawmill Campus,[12] in Dublin, OH. This campus grew rapidly and started holding 2 services (9am and 11am) as of September 2013. In 2011, VC opened its second campus, Lane Avenue Campus of Vineyard Columbus.[13] In the fall of 2012, VC launched its third campus, East Campus, at Berwick Alternative Elementary School.[14] In early 2015, East Campus joined forces with the Eastside Vineyard church plant in Pickerington and moved operations out there. Lane Avenue holds service at 9:30am on Sundays and East Campus at 10am. The Lane Avenue Campus is also home to Twenty Something Campus (formerly Joshua Hose) which serves people between 18-30. Twenty Something Campus, or VC20 for short meets at noon on Sundays. VC also had two "campus initiatives" located in Circleville[15] and Mansfield.[16] As of April 2014, the Mansfield Campus Initiative has become an independent church plant, while Circleville remains a Campus Initiative.

Vineyard Institute[edit]

Logo of the newly redesigned Vineyard Institute

History of Vineyard Leadership Institute[edit]

Vineyard Leadership Institute logo

Vineyard Leadership Institute (VLI) was a two-year, seven quarter course. It was created to integrate hands-on training, ministry experience, spiritual formation, and academic understanding.

VLI was established in 1995 by Rich Nathan the senior pastor of the Vineyard Columbus in Columbus Ohio. In 1996, Steve Robbins, Ph.D. was hired as Director of Vineyard Leadership Institute. Nathan personally fired Robbins in early 2011 when he learned of an affair Robbins had engaged in with a woman he was counseling.[17] Don Williams served as interim director until the creation of Vineyard Institute.

The host site was in Columbus, Ohio. Classes held there were recorded for distribution to other sites. VLI had many "At a Distance" sites, small groups of people that went through the courses and material together with oversight from a site coordinator.[18] VLI-AD sites were located throughout the United States as well as in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Spain, Chile, Amsterdam and other locations.

Establishment of Vineyard Institute[edit]

On July 25, 2013, Rich Nathan announced to his congregation that, as a result of a 2011 meeting in London of international Vineyard leaders, the Vineyard Leadership Institute had been donated to an independent non-profit. This organization would compromise the new Vineyard Institute (VI), serving as an educational organization to train and equip Vineyard leaders across the globe. Dr. Derek Morphew, a New Testament scholar and Vineyard pastor from South Africa, was selected as the academic dean to lead the Vineyard Institute.[19]



  1. ^
  2. ^ Nathan, Rich; Wilson, Ken (1995). Empowered Evangelicals. Vineyard Church of Columbus. ISBN 0-89283-929-5
  3. ^ a b c d Nathan, Rich. "About". Vineyard Columbus. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ Jackson (1999), page needed
  5. ^ Gaffin (1996), p. 187
  6. ^ Grudem (1994), p. 1040
  7. ^ The Columbus Dispatch - Local/State
  8. ^ Beaty, Katelyn (December 2011). "The Kingdom in Columbus: Why the world's largest Vineyard church is drawing people from 104 nations in central Ohio". Christianity Today. pp. 42–45. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Vineyard leadership institute
  10. ^ Joshua house
  11. ^ Vineyard Church of Columbus
  12. ^ Vineyard Columbus: Sawmill Campus
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ East Campus at Berwick
  15. ^ "Circleville Campus Initiative". Vineyard Columbus. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Mansfield Campus Initiative". Vineyard Columbus. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^


  • Gaffin, Richard B. (1996). Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views. Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-20155-1. 
  • Michael Gerson, "A New Social Gospel," Newsweek, November 13, 2006
  • Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-28670-0. 
  • Jackson, Bill (1999). Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard. Vineyard International Publishing. ISBN 0-620-24319-8. 

External links[edit]