Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: While earning my first doctorate, a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, one of my professors was the renowned practical theologian (and co-founder of the singing group “The Righteous Brothers“): John Wimber.
He gave me the opportunity to analyze the growth of a new denomination he was leading: The Association of Vineyard Churches. During my research, I noticed how the movement eventually lost some of the innovation and momentum from which it was born.
In an effort to avoid such missteps in church planting, venue launches and start-up ministries, I conducted Doctor of Ministry research. Here is a helpful introduction to the Vineyard denomination researched by the scholars at Virginia Commonwealth University.
ASSOCIATION OF VINEYARD CHURCHES TIMELINE
by John C. Peterson, World Religions and Spirituality Project, 9/4/16.
1934 (February 25): John Wimber was born in Kirksville, Missouri or Peoria, Illinois.
c1940: Wimber received his first saxophone.
c1946: Wimber and his mother moved to California.
1949: Wimber made his first professional appearance.
1955: Wimber met his future wife, Carol, a member of The Paramours, her prom band. The couple was married seven months later. The Paramours would work the Las Vegas circuit for the next five years. Wimber (as Johnny Wimber) played keyboards.
1960: The Wimbers faced a marriage crisis and separated. The separation ended when each cried out to God for help. The couple remarried in the Roman Catholic Church. They also attended a Friends Meeting and Bible studies. Carol began Bible studies in their home.
1962: The Wimbers recruited Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley for The Paramours. The group later became The Righteous Brothers, originally with Wimber on keyboards.
1962: Through Paramours‘ drummer Dick Heyling, the Wimbers met Quaker lay evangelist Gunner Payne and began attending Payne’s Bible studies at Heyling’s home.
1963: John and Carol Wimber had near-simultaneous conversion experiences at one of Payne’s Bible studies. The Wimbers continued leadership involvement with Bible study groups through the Friends Meeting, with Gunner Payne at the Heylings, and in their own home, beginning a period of intense evangelism.
c1967: John Wimber felt called to leave the music business and enrolled in Azusa Pacific University to study the Bible for three years.
1970: Upon graduation, Wimber was “registered” (ordained) by Society of Friends. He became assistant pastor of Yorba Linda Friends meeting and continued to lead a number of Bible studies which became increasingly intense and well attended. They came to the attention of the Southern California religious community.
1974: John and Carol Wimber and forty of their Bible study students were asked to leave the Friends Meeting. John was invited by C. Peter Wagner to help found the new Fuller Institute for Church Growth.
1975-1978: Wimber taught church growth and planting as an adjunct faculty at Fuller while continuing to lead growing Bible studies.
1977: Bible studies grew and were incorporated as a congregation of Calvary Chapel.
1979: Wimber met Ken Gullicksen, another member of the Calvary Chapel movement, at a retreat.
1980: Lonnie Frisbee preached to Wimber’s congregation on Mother’s Day, triggering an outpouring of charismatic phenomena.
1982-1986: Wimber and Wagner taught a Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth course at Fuller.
1982: Wimber broke with Calvary Chapel over Wimber’s increasing emphasis on charismatic phenomena, and, with several other Calvary Chapel groups, joined with Gullicksen’s group of Vineyard churches. Gullicksen asked Wimber to take the lead.
1982: Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim was incorporated.
1984: Vineyard Ministries International was established.
1985: The Association of Vineyard Churches incorporated. Mercy Music (later Vineyard Music) was established.
1986: Wimber published his book Power Evangelism.
1986: Wimber suffered a heart attack.
1988: Wimber established close relationships with prophetic figures of the Kansas City Fellowship (which was renamed The Kansas City Vineyard).
1991: Wimber became disillusioned with the Kansas City “prophets” and broke off the relationship.
1994: The “Toronto Blessing” revival broke out at Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. It drew international attention to extreme charismatic phenomena.
1993-1995: Wimber received cancer diagnosis and suffered a stroke.
1995: Wimber observed the “Toronto Blessing” revival and cuts ties with it.
1997 (July): Wimber installed Todd Hunter as National Coordinator of The Association of Vineyard Churches.
1997 (November): Wimber died of massive brain hemorrhage.
2000: Hunter resigned his position. The board named Bert Waggoner of Sugarland, Texas, to succeed him.
2011: Waggoner retired and was replaced by Phil Strout of Maine.
The Association of Vineyard Churches (or the Vineyard movement) grew out of the Jesus movement that developed within the “hippie” culture of Southern California in the 1960s. This movement was built more around gifted evangelists working mostly through home-based Bible study groups rather than through established churches. Many of these groups involved music scene figures, some of whom were fairly prominent.
Three of those evangelists who were exceptionally successful ended up involved in the creation of two new denominations: Chuck Smith turned his Bible study groups into the Calvary Chapel movement (Chapel on the Vine 2015), and Ken Gullicksen turned his groups into what would become the Vineyard Churches. The third, the very gifted Lonnie Frisbee, was a key figure in both movements, but he is rarely mentioned today because of his struggle with homosexuality (Randles n.d.). A fourth key figure in the Bible study phenomenon was John Wimber.
Read more at … https://wrldrels.org/2016/10/08/association-of-vineyard-churches/
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