>I have always been rather a skeptical human being, but have always believed that there had to be something bigger than me.
I was saved in a youth group when I was 16. The youth group was really an all city youth group that had more kids from other churches than the one that sponsored it. It was an amazing group and an amazing time in my life. I have heard many people comment about those years and how they wish the group now had that kind of fire. I am not sure what made it so special but it was definitely unique.
The church that sponsored the group came from a cessationist background. Which didn’t mean much to me when I was 16. In fact it took me many years before I ever heard the term. But basically it means that they didn’t believe the gifts of the Spirit were for today.
As I got older, I began to feel as if there was something more to this faith than I had yet to realize. That led me to a group in Montana that just so happened to be affiliated with Assembly of God. Now AG churches were of the opposite spectrum of the one I was saved in. They believed that the Spirit moved and did great works today and if you weren’t “slain in the Spirit” at least once a week, you were not holy enough.
I began to realize that this was extreme as well. There had to be a middle ground somewhere.
While attending the group in Montana, I was introduced to music that was being made by a group of churches that called themselves the Vineyard. It would take me many years to find out truly what they were all about, but eventually I learned that the whole goal of the Vineyard was to find that “radical middle” as they called it.
I was fascinated by the movement and followed them for years before I ever attended one of their churches. I was deeply interested in the Toronto Blessing that engulfed a small Vineyard church in Toronto. The Blessing spread world wide and involved many churches. There was criticism about the types of manifestations that were happening. Many people outside and inside the Vineyard Movement felt that it was going too far. Consequently, there were many churches that left the movement and embarked on their own journey of faith.
Having spent the last ten years in the Boise area, I have had the privilege of being part of the Vineyard family in Boise and the rest of the Treasure valley. Tri Robinson is an incredible man that has managed to grow one of the biggest churches in the valley. Because of this, he along with Rich Nathan of the Columbus Vineyard have tremendous influence within the Vineyard movement and its direction.
Since the Toronto Blessing, Boise Vineyard and the Vineyard movement as a whole has shied away from most charismatic activity. They are afraid of abuses and thus don’t want to participate at all. It seems as if the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. The radical middle is being missed for a style no different from Baptists or other mainstream evangelicals.
I am by no means proposing that we need to have some sort of charismatic happenings every meeting we have. But, what has set the Vineyard movement apart from many other denominations is its willingness to be a part of what the Spirit is doing. Could it be that if John Wimber was still alive, he would say goodbye to the movement he created and find where the Spirit is moving?
Wimber used to say that a movement has life for only about twenty years. The Vineyard is working on about twenty-five at this point. And I think John was right….