Today the buzz word in leadership training is vision. Sometimes I wonder if we have it right. What I do in the Vineyard is ask Jesus to build his vision and strategy among us. I am trying to keep up with him and believe and do what his book says. So what is Jesus’ vision? The kingdom of God. Our primary aim in life is to love and glorify God and expand his kingdom in relevant ways in the time allotted us. As communities of the King, Vineyard churches should model what the kingdom looks like when God has his way with a group of people. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON MISSION.
Mission is the word we use to define the work to which Christ calls his followers. While the specifics might vary in different church settings, the church-at-large has understood over the centuries that once a person fully embraces their call to salvation, the commission of Christ is readily available, extended by the Holy Spirit to all, inviting Jesus followers across the globe into the ministry and mission of the Master. Church planting and church growth naturally occur, when the ministry or mission of Jesus is being acted upon. Right?
But before we go further here in talking about mission, let me clear the air about this church growth theme we keep hearing about in so much of the Americanized church today. As I see it, just as vision was the buzz word for leaders back in Wimber’s day, church planting and church growth seems to be the key topic for so many pastors across North America today.
Now, please, don’t get me wrong.
In truth, the basic principles of church planting and church growth are good. God desires his church to grow, flourish, expand, and reach to the ends of the earth. The Jesus found in the New Testament is not against church growth. Nor are we.
But here’s the rub.
After thirty plus years of doing church using the basic principles of church growth, I have to give you, my deep-down, dirty little confession.
If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know that God has been working on me in recent years, setting me free from what I call the 3-Bs, where all of my success or failure as a pastor is measured by (B)uilding size, (B)ucks in the offering, and (B)utts in the seats! As God has been stripping away my dependency on the 3-Bs, I must sadly confess to you, my friends, that he has also exposed, underneath it all, an ugly, fleshly personal ambition parading behind much of my church growth attitude over the years.
Ouch. There, I said it!
Sadly, you see, the Westernized Jesus most of us serve today in the church growth movement has evolved into a promoter of North American business values where bigger is better, more is better than less, and success is achieved when we build buildings that are impressive in size, when cash is flowing like milk and honey, and when weekend attendance numbers are breaking new records!
As I see it, to make the mission of the church of North America conform to the kingdom principles Wimber talks about here, pastors and ministry overseers must, first and foremost, address this hideous side of self-promotion that lies deep within the bowels of the church growth movement. In truth, the 3-B pastor who secretly hungers for self-recognition must be stopped cold in his or her tracks. The 3-Bs that are driving so many church leaders through the pursuit of self-edifying glory has to be destroyed!
Interestingly enough, Wimber was known in his day as a church growth proponent. Yet, as we see in his quote above, church growth principles never trumped his passion for the fine art of living and ministering in the kingdom life of Christ. In truth, when he gave his life to Christ back in 1963, he quickly learned that the way of life to which he was accustomed needed to die so that he could learn to walk in the kingdom ways of God.
For me, a recovering 3-B pastor who no longer wants to measure success (or failure) in my church by looking at (B)uildings, (B)ucks, and(B)utts in the seats, I find it refreshing to hear John’s words once more:
Our primary aim in life is to love and glorify God and expand his kingdom in relevant ways in the time allotted us. As communities of the King, Vineyard churches should model what the kingdom looks like when God has his way with a group of people.
Thanks, John. This recovering 3-B pastor really needs to remember that!
God, my confession as a recovering 3-B pastor is humbling indeed. I’m certain that John Wimber never expected the church family that he began to become more consumed in growing and expanding the church than we are in simply being kingdom people doing our very best to follow Jesus wherever he might go. Spirit, allow us the grace to throw away the 3-Bs and begin measuring our success in ministry once again by using standards found in the Scriptures instead of twenty-first century books on successful church growth. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- What changes need to occur in our approach to pastoral ministry and mission today?
- Am I measuring my success or failure using kingdom principles found in the New Testament or am I using Americanized business models where growth and expansion is the end all toward success?
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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