But whatever you do, don’t hold onto things for their own sake. Programs are means to an end. Evaluate their effectiveness. Keep what works; get rid of what doesn’t. Do whatever is necessary to help the church of Jesus Christ to advance. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON MISSION.
As I see it, John Wimber, at his very core, was a churchman. He was a pastor, a shepherd who loved Jesus and the church that is called by his name. Yes, Wimber was a well-known author, a highly sought-after conference speaker, and a visionary leader who birthed a movement of churches. But deep down, John and Carol Wimber were lovers of the church, and wanted to do everything and anything they could to help the church at large be all Jesus hopes it could be.
So because of that deep love for Jesus and his church, there was nothing sacred in church for Wimber except Jesus. As you can see from the quote above, for Wimber, flexibility was the key to pastoral ministry. Thus, when it came to helping pastors act on the mission Jesus gives his church, John insisted that the only important thing in church life that really matters is making sure that we are keeping the main thing, the main thing.
And for Wimber, the main thing for him as a functioning pastor was being radically obedient to Jesus, making sure that he was always flexible, keeping in step with the Master, rather than falling into the temptation of doing things just to do them. Over time, this flexibility and his radical obedience to Jesus cost Wimber a lot. In a world where it’s so easy for pastors to read the latest “how-to” book on church growth and then go establish a bunch of programming so that our churches will be able to keep up with the latest fads in American church life, Wimber would buck that system and ask us if we were doing what the Father had asked us to do. When others would tell him that it wasn’t practical to focus so much attention on the Holy Spirit, warning him that it wouldn’t be comfortable for many evangelical pastors, once again, he would throw out pre-conditioned programming standards to do what he sensed the Father was doing.
At times, he was criticized sharply for taking so many risks with the ministries God had placed into his hands. At a time in life when other well-established pastors would rest on their laurels, keeping the status-quo whenever and wherever possible, Wimber always seemed to be looking and listening to God, doing his very best to make sure he and his church were always keeping in step with the Spirit and not just “doing church” for “church- sake.”
One of Wimber’s favorite quips was: “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” So for him, it was a sin to keep pouring time, energy, and resources into a well-worn program in his church, particularly if he was confident that the program was stealing life from people rather producing life in the church. Thus, programming in church ministry was always being evaluated when you were around him. Flexibility was the key. If something was working; it stayed. But if it wasn’t, he had no problem cutting it, even if that ministry or program had been in the church for decades.
I guess, in truth, Wimber was a reformer, a pastor who loved the church dearly but was never impressed by its cultural presentation. A man of passion who would rather be found guilty of following Jesus than standing around doing things just because that’s the way we’ve always done it.
Hmm. Maybe we need a few more Jesus-loving, church-loving reformers like Wimber in today’s church? Anybody wanna sign up? Remember, blessed are the flexible for they won’t be bent out of shape!
Father, over time, it’s very easy to remove risk from our work and just go with the program. Thank you that in John Wimber, I never saw a man who was satisfied with just “doing church,” but one who demanded of himself that he was always listening and looking for what the Father was doing. Spirit, empower me to be a risk-taker for Jesus, even when others say that I might be rocking the boat too much. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- Where have I allowed the status quo to lull me to sleep?
- Have I lost my ability to be flexible? Am I too interested in playing it safe when compared to my drive to always be doing what the Father is doing?
- What might it look like right now for me to step out in faith on those things that I sense God asking me to do?
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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