Signs, Wonders & Church Growth
As John and his congregation, mostly made up of former Quakers, sought God in intimate worship, they experienced empowerment by the Holy Spirit, significant renewal in the gifts, and conversion growth.
Since it soon became clear that the church’s emphasis on the experience of the Holy Spirit was not shared by some leaders in the Calvary Chapel movement, John’s church left Calvary Chapel in 1982 and joined the Association of Vineyard Churches.
Growth & Global Attention
As Vineyard Anaheim grew, it became a vibrant church of thousands (while still meeting in a high school gymnasium!) gaining world-wide attention. Thousands of unchurched people came powerfully into relationship with Christ, and the church worked to disciple and train those young Christians in their newfound faith.
John was asked to teach a now-famous course at Fuller Theological Seminary called Signs, Wonders and Church Growth (MC510), in which he taught on the works of Jesus, then trained seminarians to pray for the sick, hear God’s voice, and move in the Holy Spirit. The material in this course eventually led to invitations for John and his team to train churches around the world in how to pray for and heal the sick.
A Love For The Holy Spirit
As the Vineyard grew and John’s work of renewal impacted everyone from the Anglicans to the Baptists, Wimber carried forward the heart of a child when it came to the work of the Holy Spirit. His love for the untamable work of the Spirit, based on the lasting transformations he had seen in the lives of so many, led the Vineyard through many seasons in its history.
Letting the “weeds grow up with the flowers,” the Vineyard moved in and out of varying degrees of relationship with prophetic movements and renewal movements (the famous Toronto Blessing renewal began in a Vineyard church in Canada).
The Quest For The Radical Middle
John pastored the movement with grace and wisdom during these exciting and turbulent years, writing long letters and pastoral care articles to his pastors to help them navigate the tricky waters of partnering with the Holy Spirit.
His desire was to keep the movement living in the tension of the “radical middle,” embracing both the gifts of the Evangelical tradition and the gifts of the Pentecostal/Charismatic traditions. John’s perspective could be captured in the adage: “All Word and no Spirit, we dry up. All Spirit and no Word, we blow up. With the Spirit and the Word, we grow up.”
Some of these years are documented in a powerful historical book on the Vineyard movement, The Quest For The Radical Middle, by the late Bill Jackson.
The lasting significant influence of Wimber, and the teams and leaders who served with him, has been noted by churches of various denominations worldwide, perhaps most notably The Alpha Course, New Wine, and Soul Survivor movements in the UK.
The impact of John Wimber, Vineyard Worship, and the value of kingdom theology in the 21st church cannot be overstated. Today, the Vineyard takes its place as a growing, maturing movement of passionate followers of Jesus, seeking to “do the stuff” of the kingdom of God in local churches, in the streets, and anywhere people gather.
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