Let’s go on a short journey exploring the recent history of significant movements that have shaped what we’re seeing in the West today.
This history is important to digest as we look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead—with God! Less than 50 years ago, a movement was birthed to reach a specific subculture in the United States: the hippies. At a time when America was infatuated with drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll, there was a great awakening of individuals who decided to reject that lifestyle and seek God instead. This was the Jesus People movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
When Kenn Gulliksen was sent out by the Calvary Chapel in 1974 to start a church in West Los Angeles, no one would’ve guessed or even imagined that less than 50 years later, there would be over 2,400 churches in 95 countries that would share the same name: Vineyard.
Eight years after Gulliksen planted the first Vineyard church, there were at least seven Vineyard churches in this loosely defined network. It was at this point, in 1982, when John Wimber became the first director of this growing Vineyard movement.
Sure, your church may not be Vineyard and may not affirm all they do, but you can’t deny the tangible, movemental impact they have had planting new churches. This impact is, without question, one of their greatest attributes.
In fact, here are seven constants to church planting that John Wimber outlined and lived by as he led the Vineyard movement to plant over 1,000 churches in their lifetime:
1) Constantly Tell Your Story.
When church planters were getting ready to launch, Wimber would commonly teach them to share why they were there.
Tell everyone why you are there. And once you’ve told them ten times—tell them five hundred more…The problem is many pastors get bored of telling their own story—so they quit telling it. And then they wonder why their church quits growing. People thrive on narrative, that’s how God created us as humans, and a powerful narrative becomes the key factor of vision-casting and leadership. Not telling your story can be a contributing factor to lack of church growth, because people lose focus when you’re not consistently telling who you are and where you’re going. And they lose their reason for existence.
2) Constantly Tell His Story.
As important as your story is, the true priority is His story—Jesus’ story. Because people thrive on narratives, you need to consider how to share your story in a way that connects with God’s grand narrative for the world.
How does Jesus fit into why you are there? Wimber would teach church planters that, “Every occasion ought to have His story in it. Jesus is the Son of God. It’s always in there, always wrapped up in the midst of any exchange with people.”
3) Constantly Explain the Mysteries of Life.
This point was twofold for Wimber. On the one hand, he emphasized the importance of calling people to a deeper commitment to Christ—not just to salvation but also to mission. Then he elaborated on the importance of metrics to help you know how you’re doing in ministry.