Tagged in: Toronto Blessing

What the Vineyard churches taught about community : Broken state of the Ekklisía of the United States

I am a Pentecostal. I will never deny that. However, I also am open and minister in the other streams. Having grew up around Metro Vineyard, it is natural that I have a tendency to be around the Vineyard churches. I also dance around the prophetic movement as well. I would say that my theology is a mixture of the Pentecostalism with some Vineyard theology undertones with a high regard for the prophetic.

The Vineyard used to be very radical and I loved them. I have sit under Mike Bickle. I met John Wimber in 1996. I have traveled to South America with Randy Clark. I have been laid out on the floor from John Arnott praying for me. There is no denying that the Vineyard movement and the extension of it being the Toronto Blessing had an impact on my life.

One of the challenges has been finding places to discuss theological concepts because many of my Pentecostal friends that I went to bible college with are not really that versed in the perspective of George Eldon Ladd and later John Wimber. While Pentecostal theology and Vineyard churches can agree, they just have not done the study so I needed to find other venues to discuss these themes.

What I found is a very liberal, broken, and in some way apostate group that call themselves, ” to discuss theology, issues, concepts, ideas, experiences and stories that affect church life, particularly (but not exclusively) as they relate to the Vineyard movement.” You would think that would be the place to discuss the theological paradigm of the Vineyard and other related movements, right? Wrong! 

Before we get started, I am going to name names as that is Paul did in the New Testament. At one point, he said that Hymenaeus and Alexander could be delivered to Satan. (1 Timothy 1:18-20) Paul had not read How to make friends and influence people, yet.

Vineyard Churches and theology forums

There is the official  Society for Vineyard Scholars that I had planned to get involved with (until this last week) and there is this unofficial Vineyard Theology forum. You would think it was about Vineyard theology, right? Come to find out that it is about liberalism and about anything but actual theology. Nothing to do with the doctrine of the Vineyard churches in any way, shape or form.

You would think that in a theology discussion, people can openly share their conviction with passion without facing censorship. Well, not when you have a guy by the name of Brian Goodwin as the sheriff in town. He thinks any form of passion makes you a jerk and unkind. Yes, he cares more about being “nice” than being holy and righteous.

Without failure, he would jump on the whole 1 Corinthians 13 bandwagon and try and use “love” to beat people into submission of being tempted. I am not sure what this Brian Goodwin guy thinks he will do by making demands to “be nice.” Let’s get real, has anyone ever became loving by some random guy on the internet telling them to do it? You have a better chance of the Pope getting married.

The sad thing is this guy claims to have been to Metro Vineyard and a few years later become the International House of Prayer in Kansas City many times. He even claimed that his wife has been deeply touched by the Bridal paradigm message from Mike Bickle. However, he never really like the Forerunner message and he seems to have especially distaste for people operating in the mantle of John the Baptist. Yes, he is going to have a hard time in the coming years when Stadium Christianity breaks out because it will not be “kind” or “nice.” The coming end time revival will be marked by signs and wonders that confirm the classic hellfire and brimstone preaching of the gospel.

Prophetic picture of the American Ekklisía

Let’s get real. Vineyard churches are a shell of what they use to be. The Holy Spirit is not honored and most of the people in these churches would be shocked at the statements and ministry of John Wimber. You can forget Lonnie Frisbee. He would be too “unloving” and be condemned as a false prophet on the spot.

Let’s consider two passages in Acts. This is the story of the early church. Let’s start in Acts 2

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

There is something in this very familiar passage that we sometimes overlook. The believers were all together in one place or as the King James puts it, “in one accord.” Basically, what the original language here is pointing to is that they were all in agreement for a common purpose or goal. They all have signed up to tarry for the the power of the Spirit (dunamis power). They did not know what it would look like or how it would come but they all agreed and encouraged each other to press in deeply for more of the Spirit.

Everyone that was presented received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The reason that everyone was filled was because they never broke their desire to tarry. If Peter would have said, “I don’t want to wait anymore,” who knows how the history of the church would have been different?

One thing we do know is that Peter did not agree with some of the people in the room and he had some personal beef with some of the other disciplines as well. They also still remember him as a month before having that deal with the rooster (denying Christ). They was in agreement for the breaking in of the Spirit but they were not in complete conformity as many churches, such as Brian Goodwin, demands today.

To be fair, in Vineyard theology, they try and take the Pentecostal experience of Acts 2 and bring it into reformed/Anabaptist frameworks so it is a little weird.

Later in Acts 4:32, the issue comes up again,

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

What does it mean they were of one heart? What does one mind mean? They had the passion for the things of God at the core of everything they did. It was who they were and what they were about. They wanted to see the Kingdom come and they wanted to destroy the works of the devil. While they did not agree on everything (there was trouble brewing with egos) at this point, they all had the same vision for the gospel of the Kingdom to be preached (Matthew 24:14)

They cared so much about the mission that God had given them that they would allow that to over ride any personality differences that they had. It did not matter that one felt one way about meat offerings and nothing was struggling about doing ministry to Gentiles. They let the over riding passion for the Kingdom consume their very being. That mean everything to them.

This use to be how the Vineyard churches believes and what they practiced. I am not sure what happened to them. I do not know if it was when John Wimber grieved the Holy Spirit in Toronto that things changed or after Wimber was taken home. However, something serious changed and this is not the Vineyard Christian Fellowship that I grew up in.

How not to be offended by personality

What we are dealing with here is someone that is offended by another personality and expectation based on local culture and norms. I do not believe all Vineyard churches would agree that “people skills” are more important than anointing or theological correctness. While having what he determines to be matters which is vary from California where he lives to the Midwest where I am was raised. This would especially be true for someone internationally like I am currently.

The question remains: are we willing to receive from those whom have an offensive package? The Vineyard movement was directly impacted (but Brian Goodwin is too proud to admit it) by Bob Jones that offended Mike Bickle is about every way possible when they met for the first time. Mike believed that Bob was a false prophet until Art Katz confirmed that Bob Jones was a prophet of the Lord. People like Brian will miss the coming revival and the forerunners because he will be offend at their mannerism.

Imagine what someone that wants a “cleaned up revival” will think when there are modern Jack Coe that rip people out of wheel chairs in the middle of Wal-Mart. The person will walk for the first time or fall on the floor based on their willingness to believe the report of the Lord. We can not imagine how offensive this could be to someone who is worried about being “nice” and having good “manners.” I am sure they will struggle with offense.

What is coming is the going to look much more like Jimmy Swaggart preaching than the TV ready personality of Joel Osteen. It will be fire brand holiness preaching but it will have the theology of the Vineyard churches for the Kingdom with the eschatology of the Brownsville Revival. To miss with the Pharisees even more, the forerunners will have an intimacy with the Father that was the message sounded from the mountaintop during the Toronto Blessing.

For those like this Brian Goodwin that are more interested in having “a nice revival” and “well manners preaching,” they will be busy counting their 30 pieces of silver. I have an odd feeling that we will find many pastors within the Vineyard movement sitting there counting it as they protest the forerunner as social justice warriors crying about the poor.

How to deal with the offended saints?

First of all, it is important to understand that people like Brian is a believer. While they might want to make the forerunner gentle wimps, they believe they are doing the right thing. It is fleshly and based on cultural expectation but you can’t blame them. They firmly believe that the prophets are to sweet little grandmas. They do not have a grid for people who are committed to revival and will be fire brands. It just do not register to their mental understanding of their theological pursuit.

The best thing to do is try your best to reason with them without compromising your calling before the Lord. True community happens when we celebrate each other without trying to make the other into an image of ourselves. This is where the problems remains. A lot of people want to make forerunner compromise. This is the spirit of Delilah at work. 

What needs to happen is what the early church saw happen. They have minor disagreements and they have very different styles but had a deeper commitment for the outpouring of the Spirit. They did not pretend those differences was not there but it was not important as the lame walking and blind seeing. The question becomes, “are you more committed to offense or raising the dead?”

Does what happened to me hurt? No question about it. Every time we are rejected, it hurts. Paul Cain struggle with hurt from a rejection for over a decade once. It really does hurt but does our committed to seeing a one billion soul harvest outweigh our pain? Completely. We just have to forgive them and hope they were pure their desire.

Note: I did reach out to Brian Goodman that is part of the Vineyard churches before writing this and I made every attempt (without compromising my calling) to find a middle ground and bring restoration. He had made zero attempt to find a resolution. 

 

 

 

 

 

Partnering with Holy Spirit in the Vineyard

One of the core values of Vineyard Churches is partnering with Holy Spirit.

This is one of my favorite topics too. I actually wrote my thesis in seminary on Pneumatology. I love the Holy Spirit and I love being baptized in the Spirit. There is a big difference between be filled with the Spirit and knowing Holy Spirit, the Person.

The context of the Vineyard churches is more being filled with the Spirit. It is worth noting that they do not believe that tongues is the initial physical evidence of the baptism. I am not sure what is the evidence to be of the baptism but it is not a private language.


What does Vineyard Church believe about being partnering with Holy Spirit?

According to the Core Value booklet, “The Vineyard story is driven by the reality that God eagerly desires us to experience His presence, and then to partner with Him in His work of showing His love to the world. We believe that the Holy Spirit distributes gifts among us, enabling us to encounter God’s presence personally and corporately, and then to minister to the world around us in the power of the Spirit.”

What I see here is alot of theological words that don’t really say much in reality. I am also led to believe that they think that God moves more powerfully inside the church meetings than any other time. However, Ezekiel 47 tells otherwise. The more they got from the temple, the stronger the river become.

The other concern that I have is the role of the Holy Spirit today is not “show love to people.” The Holy Spirit came to convict the world of sin according to Christ. God loves you does not mean anything without repentance and surrender.

I would love to see more of the current Vineyard Church position on Pneumatology.


A call to the prophetic

I am happy to see that part of their core values is about hearing God for others. We call that being prophetic.

“We pray for the sick, we confront injustice, and we seek to hear the voice of God on behalf of others.”

Being a voice of the Spirit is very important and out of the outpost of partnering with Holy Spirit. It is something that every Spirit Baptized believers is called to do and should make a lifestyle of doing.

In the words of John Wimber, “Everyone gets to play.”

I do not believe that is biblical when there is a meetings and there is no prophecy, no tongues and interpretation, no words of knowledge, and no miracles. That is not the same stories that I see in the Book of Acts. Every time 2 or 3 gather, there should be a song, a hymn, a miracle, or a prophecy.

As I said the actual position on Pneumatology currently hold by the Vineyard Churches seems very unclear and what they really believe today. The position was much stronger before the split with the Toronto Blessing and all the fallout that happened right after that.



Note: This is a series on the Vineyard Churches, their values and their beliefs.

My Theological Disclaimer

To be quite honest, it is very limited and I was in the probably the least “Vineyard Vineyard” of them all. I was a teenager when Kansas City Fellowship become Metro Vineyard for a few years. After the mess in Toronto, we become Metro Christian Fellowship after we left the movement over difference of opinion of revival.

We always had a little different point of view on things than many other in the Vineyard. We were kinda the “prophecy” church more than most others were. If anything, it is was too much of an emphasis there. Growing in the prophetic was not an easy road and there is not too many road signs along the way.

As we go through this study, understand my background in from being part of Metro Vineyard and my theological background is mostly Classic Pentecostal. I was educated in the Brownsville Revival and later at Central Bible College (Assemblies of God) and finally at Oral Roberts University.

7 things I learned from Mike Bickle

Mike Bickle was my pastor for quite some time. He imparted alot of practical knowledge, wisdom and prophetic revelation into me. I was just a teenager when it started and I was in my late 20’s when I left the International House of Prayer movement in Kansas City. I have always look back and realized that my time home in Kansas City was some of the best times of my life. Thank you, Mike. Continue reading…

True Discipleship is not happening today.

Many do not understand the Great Commission and this is partly due to the fact that Matthew recorded a very different version of it than Mark, Luke and John. I am not saying that Matthew was wrong (after all, it did make the Cannon), I am saying his point of view is different with that whole discipleship thing.

What do I mean by that? If you read Matthew 28:19 besides Mark 16:15-20 or Luke 1:7-8, you will see that there is something very different. Mark and Luke put emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and set the captive free as proof of the gospel. Matthew did not speak of miracles but what we call discipleship.

In my spiritual heritage, the emphasis has always been that miracles confirms the gospel. After all, Mark did say, “…the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” The stories of John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Roberts, and John Wimber were common around the table.

We always knew that Matthew 28:19 was there but we kinda just left that to the Baptists who did not believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They could nothing but discipleship. After all, they didn’t believe in healing the sick and raising the dead. Harsh as it sounds, it is how much of the Pentecostal movement sees this passage in light of the difference between Matthew and the rest of the passages.


Discipleship is best done by fathers

I remember hearing a man from New Zealand speak when I was in a meeting during the Toronto Blessing. His name was James Jordan and he spoke of the Fathering nature of the gospel. He kept talking about 1 Corinthians 4:15. It is a passage that really messes up our whole idea of what discipleship really is.

Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

The maturity of the believer should be done by fathers, not teachers. This changes everything. Most churches are trying to discipline by teaching but are they raising up spiritual sons and daughters. If a church claims to be a “family” and they are serious about mentoring the young believers as spiritual children; something is wrong.

The problem we have is when we do not focus of spiritual fathers and mothers, we reduce the idea of discipleship to a mere academia practice that is just like learning biology or chemistry. It is about learning information and the application of it for a designed purpose. It makes the whole experience one of education, not spirituality.

Discipleship is not something that can be done in Sunday School and it can not be done in our cell groups (that we ripped off from South Korea). It happens when people have the Elijah and Elisha relationship. Paul had a spiritual fathering role to Timothy. That is how it works best. One on one around the barbeque pit; not from the pulpit.


Discipleship as we know is brainwashing

I have long believed there was a fine line between the two. I went to what YWAM calls a “Discipleship Training School.” It is a course that is several months long that is focused on the fundamentals of the faith. The problem is it is based on information and not impartation. It is mostly teaching and required reading. This borderlines brainwashing. It is not just YWAM doing it, either. Almost every major mission group has the same unbibical concept.

When I went to bible college, I expected to have an educational experience. When I went to seminary, I am paying for the educational experience. When I am do discipleship, I expect to be more about mentorship than I do education. This is the problem with the model we have in most churches.

The Bible declares that God will turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I am not sure how we think this will work when we are more focused on developing students than spiritual children in our churches. The reality is a pastor can not father a church from the pulpit; he can only present information and release impartation.

Churches that focus on training them with information are like a man that goes around town, getting women pregnant but then leaving town without being a parent to the child. We just end up with a generation that is very educated in the scriptures but have no fathers to guide them in spiritual things.


Raising up spiritual sons

I was saved in the Brownsville Revival. The main speaking in the meetings was Evangelist Steve Hill. He was mentored by Leonard Ravenhill. It was from that relationship that Steve became the man that could lead the greatest revival in American history. It was not going through school and getting information. It was that mentoring relationship that made the difference.

People wanted to share in Ravenhill’s mantle and carry his mandate to the Bride of Christ but they did not want to share in his sackcloth and ashes. They want to stand with him in the pulpit but they did not want to weep with him in the prayer room. Sons and daughters are those who also share the sackcloth and ashes with their spiritual fathers and mothers.

It was because of those times in prayer and mentorship that the Brownsville Revival broke out on Father’s Day 1995. It was an outpouring of everything that Steve Hill received from his spiritual father, Leonard Ravenhill. That is how true discipleship works.

I look back at the several things that I know that I am anointed to do and I received what I have from men that operated in that mentored me, not just reading books and watching videos. It is true that anointing can only be caught but not taught.

God opened the door for me to be mentored by the pastors that had the fastest growing church in America back in 1999-2001. It was a mentoring experience to be there and to be close to the leadership. It was about being a spiritual son. Due to that relationship, I learned the practicals of planting a mega-church in one of the most saturated markets for faith in the United States.

Discipleship is about spiritual sons and daughters. That’s all I am saying.