I have just indulged myself in a little bit of nostalgia! Very early on in my Christian journey I was introduced to John Wimber and the Vineyard movement. My wife and I went to many of the conferences he held across the UK in the 1980’s and we were significantly impacted. Additionally, there was a season when I worked for an American company, Texas Instruments, that I would regularly travel to Texas, sometimes the trip would last for a few weeks. Whilst there I regularly attended a relatively new Vineyard Church both on a Sunday and then mid-week, I became good friends with a couple who were part of the church. I therefore saw the Vineyard first hand.
This was all over 30 years ago.
I have just read a book called “Vineyard Values” which describes the modern Vineyard movement in the UK and describes its roots. It reminds me of those early experiences and reminds of their importance.
“There are some qualities you will find at almost any Vineyard church: intimate worship, openness to the Holy Spirit, a high value placed on relationship and community.”
The chapter headings are also significant.
Firstly, the kingdom of God. John Wimber and the Vineyard helped me and many others to see the importance of the Kingdom of God, the now and not yet of the kingdom. That we should be expecting the Kingdom of God to break in, however we will not see all the Kingdom in this age.
I loved the fact that “everyone gets to play”, the next chapter. Wimber introduced body ministry, it is not just the person on the stage who gets to pray for the sick and perform miracles, everyone should be involved, even me!
I also remember praying “Come Holy Spirit”, knowing that the Holy Spirit is always with us, but that we should particularly invite Him to come and do what he wants to do. It isn’t our church but God’s church, we therefore need to give him space.
Another chapter focuses on the need to “remember the poor”. This wasn’t something that I remember being a focus of the conferences, but the church in Texas had more people from the drug scene than not!
The final chapter is on worship, another major contribution made to the church scene in the UK. Vineyard worship was simple, often a worship leader with a guitar and very simple tunes and words. The focus was on us singing to God rather than just declaring doctrinal truths. I still love those early songs and feel they contribute to a rounded worship, bringing a sense of intimacy.
It is good sometimes to look back and remember the influences you have had. Maybe you were influenced by Wimber and the Vineyard, or maybe you have taken these things for granted in the church today. Now you know where they came from.
Written by Tony Thompson