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.