As some of you know, I have been involved in a personal in-depth study into of the Kingdom of God and what that really means. God has been radically changing the way I look at the Bible, life and this world. I’ve been given a new pair of glasses.
The deeper I get into the study of the Kingdom of God, the more the name of John Wimber keeps popping up. To be sure, I’ve heard of John Wimber before – after all he was the founder of the Vineyard Movement, which I’m a part of – but it was usually connected to a quote or phrase such as “the meats in the street” or “doin’ the stuff”.
In an effort to learn more about the Kingdom of God and John Wimber I picked up a book of Wimber’s teachings as well as a seven part CD series by Wimber about the Kingdom of God. Both of these items are amazing – yet that’s not why I’m writing today.
I was browsing online this week trying to locate some additional material about the Kingdom of God from different sources. During this hunt, I discovered two sites that had personal testimonies about the writer’s first meeting with John Wimber. The fact that these testimonies were online wasn’t that odd as both sites where affiliated with the Vineyard in some way. The thing that struck me was WHAT Wimber was doing when they meet him.[@more@]
Let me show you.
The first article I found was on the South Africa Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC) website. It is an excerpt from the book, “Doing Church”, written by Alexander Venter (Area Pastoral Coordinator for the South Africa AVC). This is how he meets Wimber:
I will never forget the first meeting I was in with John Wimber. It was the first morning of the Pastor’s Conference in Johannesburg. When it was time to begin, John strolled up to the piano, sat down, and gently began to play and sing ‘J-e-es-u-s what a wonder you are, you are so gentle, so pure and so kind …’ Slowly we all joined in, but I quickly found myself overcome by the simplicity of the words, the warmth, gentleness and intimacy of the experience, and I began to feel all tender and tearful….Then John stood up and casually opened his Bible and began to talk to the pastors about the Kingdom of God. Again, there was no preacher’s tone or loud voice, no religious jargon or sermonising; just an honesty, openness and clarity that was completely disarming.
The second testimony is vaguely similar – just on a different continent.
This article was written by Don Williams who was a Presbyterian pastor at the time. He is now a member of the Vineyard movement as a theologian, author and former-pastor. He recalls his first introduction to Wimber as such:
As I entered the parking lot of Canyon High School for the evening service, people were literally running toward the gym. Clearly they weren’t drifting in for church as usual. Once inside, I was greeted by an auditorium filled with about 2,000 people, informally dressed. I slipped into the bleachers. A group of musicians mounted the platform at one end of the basketball court and began to play simple songs….After worship, the large man at the keyboards, who I identified as John Wimber, got his Bible and began to speak. From my days in the “Jesus Movement” of the ‘60’s, I expected a pop sermon from Revelation on the end of the world. I got a thoughtful sermon on the kingdom of God, come and coming and our place in it “between the times.”
Did you catch the similarities? There were two of them. The first was the simple worship that started each meeting. The second was that John Wimber talked to each group about the Kingdom of God. It is the second similarity that really hit me…
Pause there for a minute.
A few years ago I butchered a sermon in Chile (granted I had five minutes to prepare), afterwards my mentor told me to prepare my heart message so that I would and could be ready to preach at any time. Honestly – I had a tough time coming up with such a message – in fact, I couldn’t... I mean, most of my heart was caught up with the “missions bug” and the missional heart of God – yet somehow that didn’t seem right….
Enter the Kingdom of God.
This was THE central message of Jesus Christ as well as John the Baptist, the Apostles, Isaiah, Moses, Paul and a pretty much everyone else (granted they all didn’t use those words). Now I find that it was also the central message of John Wimber – a man whom God used to change the course of the church. I say that not just because I’m a member of the Vineyard Movement – but because the influence of John Wimber transcended denominations.
What does this have to do with me? I’m not sure right now. But God is taking me on an incredible journey into His word. I’m just hanging on and yelling like a mad man on a roller coaster.
Come Lord, Come.