Ever since the founder of the Vineyard, John Wimber went to be with Jesus, there has been a question as to which way the Vineyard was going to go in relation to the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit. This season of soul searching is normal for a group of people who lose a very gifted and charismatic leader. This year at the National Conference in Anaheim Ca., this question seemed to be resolved.
With video greetings from such notables as Jack Hayford and Reinhard Bonnke the Association of Vineyard Churches once again recognized that God had given them the genetic code of always being people with a passion and practice of walking in the fruit and power of the Spirit.
In John 15:4 Jesus makes a bold statement. He says that we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in Him. When we see ebb in the spiritual vitality of a church or in our personal life it can be attributed to one thing. We are not abiding as closely as we once were with Jesus.
The Vineyard saw this ebb and appointed a Holy Spirit committee to make recommendations to fix this problem, knowing that if a denomination of people feel the need to appoint a committee to study this type of problem then the problem is worse than they think.
Jerry Cook, who is not a Vineyard pastor but has spoken at Vineyard conferences, in his book “The Holy Spirit, So what’s the big deal? writes, "If we are to be the active presence of Jesus in our world, we must have His power available in a practical form. Jesus made provision for this: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” So the way we abide in Jesus today is to stay in the presence and to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit." That is why the national leadership and the pastors of Vineyard churches feel it is so important for the people of the Vineyard to continue to be people who practice the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
With this in mind, Phil Strout, the National Director of Vineyard Churches appointed Happy and Diane Leman to head up a committe on the Holy Spirit within Vineyard churches. They in turn invited Robby Dawkins and Todd White to speak at the afternoon session in the main sanctuary at the Anaheim Vineyard where the conference was being held.
There were no great theological truths learned in these sessions but instead, from my perspective as a participant in the conference, it was an example of what the Apostle Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 2
1 When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, 1 I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness – timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
Personally I applaud the leadership shown by Phil Strout and the Executive Team for Vineyard USA. In 1990, while in another denomination, I spoke out against the move they were making to go "seeker sensitive". I reminded them that repenting of sins and taking a stand for Jesus was not comfortable. What I said was not well received. I am sure that Phil and the other leaders of Vineyard USA are also catching flak from some who would place self respect over being a fool for Christ.
About the Author:
Pastor Duke Taber has been a believer in Jesus for 33 years. He has been a pastor for over 20 years currently serving at the Vineyard church in Pine Haven Wyoming and was formerly the secretary treasurer of White Pine County Ministerial Association. He is an alumnus of LIFE Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. Pastor Duke publishes a Christian living magazine called Taber's Truths and is the owner of Christian Faithbook.