When we started (early days of the Vineyard), we did not jump on the bandwagon of “God’s new thing.” Instead, we set out to do an ancient thing in a contemporary way: train people to continue the kingdom ministry of Jesus. Tired of my ministry, I was desperate to see his. What exactly is kingdom ministry? Luke gives a glimpse into Jesus’ own self perception. At his coronation address he announced his kingly agenda: “ The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” In the gospels we find Jesus’ action plan for Spirit-empowered ministry: Jesus…
- preached good news to the poor and poor in spirit.
- proclaimed freedom to prisoners bound in sin and
- cast out demons.
- healed the sick. and he
- mentored disciples to do the same.
Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated God’s right to rule creation as he destroyed the works of Satan (1 Jn. 3:8). He equipped followers and promised that they too would do what he did because “everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40, Mt. 28:16-20; Jn. 14:12-14). I view this process of kingdom ministry as a continuum. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON MISSION.
Today, there is so much chatter amongst church leaders about how the church-at-large can best accomplish our mission. Many pastors and church leaders, myself included, have spent countless hours composing complex mission statements, carefully crafting words that will best motivate our parishioners to get up out of the pews and go into our community, fulfilling the mission we believe our church has been given by God.
Sadly, after thirty years of pastoral ministry, I must admit that most of my valiant efforts over the years to write visionary mission statements that will stir people to action have fallen on their face. Oh yes, my flowery words might look good on a website or when published in a church newsletter; but quite honestly, most of my efforts to produce a powerful mission-driven purpose statement for my church have produced only a flurry of activity that quickly wears out after a few initial months of excitement. In truth, most of the mission statements I’ve run across in churches in recent years are little more than nice words full of big plans that are birthed out of self-centered interests and fleshly ambition to do some good things for God!
As I see it, it’s time for me and my church (and maybe yours as well?) to return to the simplicity of mission that John Wimber spoke of years ago. You see, to John, all mission was about doing “an ancient thing in a contemporary way”…following Jesus into his kingdom ministry. And just in case we ever lost track of what Jesus’ kingdom ministry looked like, Wimber would always have us open up our Bibles to the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke 4.18-19:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (NIV).
As we’ve discussed earlier in this book, Wimber called this section of Scripture (Luke 4: 18-19), “Jesus’ job description.” If you recall, Jesus spoke these words just as he was starting his ministry in his hometown of Nazareth. And it was Wimber’s premise that everything you and I see Jesus doing and saying over the next three years of ministry is activity that is simply fleshing out in detail, all that Jesus had in mind on that fateful day as he announced that this messianic passage from Isaiah 61 was being fulfilled in the hearing of his listeners.
So, kingdom mission is not an add-on to our churches, or an option we throw into the mix like when we buy a new minivan with added perks like power doors, video screens, and seven-passenger seating. According to Wimber, doin’ the stuff Jesus speaks about in Luke 4:18-19 is the only option in mission for those who desire to follow the Master wherever he might go.
So how about if you and I toss out our flowery mission statements, take out the trash on our good ministry ideas for Jesus, and get back to the simplicity of mission found in Luke 4: 18-19? In the next few blogs, we’ll unpack a few more Wimber quotes on the subject of mission. Keep reading and come along for the ride.
Father, it’s abundantly clear to me that I’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and resources trying to develop a powerful mission statement for my church, only to realize that you’ve already written the book on the subject! Spirit, empower me and indwell me to simplify the mission and return to the clear instructions of Jesus found in Luke’s gospel. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- What might it look like for me and my church to drop all other missionary ideas and dedicate ourselves completely to fulfilling Luke 4: 18-19 in our community?
- What needs to change in our approach to ministry and mission so that we simplify our efforts and focus exclusively on continuing the kingdom ministry of Jesus in our midst?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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