Many of us treat church life like immature adolescents. From other Christians we want thrills, constant exhilaration and to have our needs met. When Christian brothers and sisters fall short of our expectations, when they are boring and imperfect and fail to meet our needs for strokes, we pout, turn away and isolate ourselves from them. Jesus calls us to mature commitment of love for His people–the very people in our fellowship! John Wimber
Our Theme: ON UNITY.
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian church (13: 11) said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
Sadly, as John Wimber points out here, too many Christians across the fruited plain of America, treat our commitment to the body of Christ much like we treat our television sets. There we sit on Sunday mornings, watching the show on the stage. If we don’t like what we see or we determine that the programming for the day is not feeding us, we tune out. Over time, many Christians eventually switch channels (churches); and if that doesn’t work, we stop watching TV (attending church) all together!
Now don’t get me wrong. As a recovering 3-B pastor, one who no longer wants to define success in my church by measuring (B)uilding size, counting (B)ucks in the offering plate, and by increasing the number of (B)utts in the seats, I’m aware that Americanized church plays right into a keeping-the-consumer-happy mindset. Now that I’ve punched in thirty years of pastoral ministry on my time card, I can sadly look back now and regret all the ways I focused on keeping the crowd satisfied over the years while trying my best to build the big, successful Vineyard church of which I always dreamed.
But as I look back at Wimber, the founding pastor of the Vineyard, I realize that he never really commissioned us to build big Vineyard churches, but positioned us to listen carefully for what the Father was doing, and then step out in faithfulness, completing the task or tasks Jesus assigns to our lives.
As I write this book, the Wisdom of Wimber, I’m struck once again on how much John and Carol Wimber loved the church that they pastored. For him, the Anaheim Vineyard was not a monument to his church-planting prowess, but a group of people gathered together sovereignly by the Lord, to model what a community of believers might look like who are doing their very best to follow obediently wherever the Master might lead.
Pastors, might I recommend that you and I lay down a lot of our driving, striving efforts to build successful ministries for our name’s sake, and simply learn the lesson John and Carol modeled so well? Living out, as pastoral shepherds, a “mature commitment of love for his people–the very people in our fellowship!”
Who knows, maybe if a few of us pastors will stop the 3-B programming and get back to the ancient pastoral work of simply caring for parishioners, they will begin to put down their TV remotes and join us, hand in hand, in building the God-worshipping, Christ-following, Spirit-directed community of faith we all hope to see.
Father, I confess my childish behavior that keeps me always focused on what’s best for me. Spirit, help me, as Wimber used to say, to grow up before I grow old. Empower me to faithfulness and long obedience in the same direction. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- Finding true unity in the body of Christ takes a Christ-empowered long-suffering where I let go of my “me-first” attitude and begin to become otherly, caring for others as much as I care for myself. Am I willing to go there?
- Am I willing to not quickly “change channels” when I get frustrated or bored?
- Will I be willing to enter into the sometimes difficult process of building true community amongst brothers and sisters in Christ, for the sake of his glorious kingdom?
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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