Spiritual Renewal: A Path Forward
Spiritual Renewal is very important to The Vineyard Movement and to me personally. As I have prayed and sought the Lord over this issue, I believe the Spirit has revealed a way forward. This is a very abbreviated look at where we’ve been, where we are, and where we could be headed.
An Explosive Start!
In the early 80’s, The Vineyard exploded on the Christian scene. We were widely known for our style of worship and our Holy Spirit Ministry. Eventually, both became widely accepted throughout much of the Christian world. We actually launch a movement that greatly impacts Christianity—and even until now.
John Wimber (the Vineyard founder) continually drew the “Vineyard Man” diagram who stood on the Word of God, operated from the Kingdom lens and had 2 major pillars—passion and compassion or worship and ministry. From my vantage point, I see those as the two assignments that God gave our Vineyard movement to share with the entire body of Christ. As I always say, we can do anything else we want once we’ve done the assignment we’ve been given (Acts 20:24).
Ebbs & Flows
The remainder of this article will deal mostly with the Holy Spirit ministry aspect. From our explosive start, we have experienced ups and downs over the last 30+ years. Factors such as the prophetic ministry era, the Toronto blessing, and the seeker focus have all influenced how much emphasis and focus Holy Spirit ministry is given. As a result, to this day, there is great variation in examples in our 600 churches. Some push into the issue of holy spirit ministry very much while others are more laid back in this area.
A New Season Is Here
Things are changing fast in our world. Much of the older Vineyard is now being replaced by a wave of much younger men and women. They’ve heard the stories and are hungry for the experiences that started the Vineyard. In fact, the cry of the younger generation is “give us our own experience.”
On top of this growing hunger, there are prophetic voices that have stated that the entire Christian world, as well as the Vineyard, are about to see another major outpouring of of God. It does appear that we could be approaching a tipping point that would result in something like the “Jesus People Movement” or the charismatic renewal of some years ago.
The Beginning Pattern
In the early days of the Vineyard, much emphasis was placed on Spiritual Renewal. We were constantly teaching about renewal in our weekend services, conducting many seminars on the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God, Spiritual Gifts, and Healing. To strengthen this, we had 1-2 major Vineyard conferences annually conducted by John Wimber as well as each church developed a 3-5 hour teaching on “Learning to Minister Like Jesus” for public ministry. This was a very robust plan of attack from which grew quickly in our understanding, experience and fruitfulness in using Spiritual gifts. In fact, much of the world was surprised at the influence and impact of the early Vineyard.
The Current Pattern
Over the last 10-20 years, things have changed. We no longer do the weekend conferences on the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God, Spiritual Gifts and Healing nor do we do the major conferences on the Spirit by someone as anointed as John Wimber. The regional and national conferences we currently have do give a spiritual boost. However, it is not reinforced by constant weekend teaching as well as some churches are not currently training people in the basics of upfront ministry. Thus, there has been an up and down pattern. As you can see in the chart below, the few events we do have give us a spike, but we quickly drop back to a lower level of functioning in the supernatural realm because we have nothing else to sustain between the “peak events”.
The Future Pattern
As I prayed over the chart above, I realized we had made many changes since the beginning pattern. We needed something to replace the small conferences as well as those occasional big Wimber meetings that gave us a boost. I saw the need for a solid teaching curriculum as well as occasional conferences. By adding those to our current National, Regional, and Area meetings we could once again build a strong dynamic that will lead us back into a more fruitful level of Supernatural Kingdom ministry.
The Conferences Are a Part
Conferences have become a rare thing in the Vineyard other than for the Area, Regional and National Conferences which are held from time to time. While these do give us a boost they are not specifically focused on Spirit/Kingdom/Gifts/Healing which are probably not enough to keep the momentum flowing. Conferences are specifically designed to give us a powerful boost that will take us to the next level. Unfortunately, they are too seldom to maintain a continual flow of high energy in the realm.
Conferences can come in different formats, First, big conferences can rally the movement, raise expectations and provide a strong boost to our faith. Smaller “local church conferences” conducted by the Spiritual Renewal Team can provide training, modeling and impartation.
The School of Kingdom Ministry
The School of Kingdom Ministry is a possible modern day equivalent of teaching the small weekend conferences/training events that we previously had on the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God, Spiritual Gifts and Healing. Since churches are conducting less of these mini conferences and people are less inclined to attend such events, the school becomes a perfect substitute. The School wraps all of that teaching into one package that can be completed in 9 months. This school is video streamed into churches which cuts down on travel and expense and gives a solid foundation of the Spirit, identity, healing, gifts, righteousness, etc.
A Complete Package
When large Holy Spirit Conferences, School of Kingdom Ministry, Vineyard conferences (National, Regional, Area conferences), Spiritual Renewal conference, local pulpit ministry, and Learning To Minister Like Jesus classes are taught, we can once again have a complete and robust diet that will bring Spiritual gifts to the forefront. One goal of the Vineyard Spiritual Renewal team is to help put the right emphasis in each of these aspects that will help us fulfill the original assignment of being a worship and ministry movement. Like the chart shows below, our hope is for everyone to experience an ever increasing flow of supernatural life and ministry.