Dignify and Deploy 20: Kingdom and Church
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
‘Christ’s mission as Priest, Prophet-teacher and King continues in the Church. Everyone, the whole People of God, shares in this three-fold mission. All “sacred power” exercised in the Church is nothing other than service, service with a single purpose: to ensure that the whole People of God share in this three-fold mission and always remain under the power of the Lord, a power sourced in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection.’ St. John Paul II (Papal Inauguration ’78)
King Jesus dignifies His human creation and deploys loyal subjects to extend the reign of His dignifying love. So grows the Church and Her impact on the world.
Church definitions differ, from ‘when two or more gather’ to the ‘pure’ leadership that extends from the lineage of Peter. Yet John Wimber and Karol Wojtyla unite in a kingly commitment to their queen, the Church. More than anything else, these two men gave all to build her up. Sourced in the Cross, both men died daily to live royally—to equip the Church to grow up into her Head (Eph. 4:11-16).
At John Wimber’s memorial service in 1997, Carol, said that ‘John felt God had given him something that belonged to the whole Church…a responsibility, a message that drove him.’ Simply put, he sought with all the power God gave him to liberate the people of God to do the works of God. He believed Church was the best expression of God’s Kingdom, when and if she not only heard His Word but did what He asked: heal the sick, cast out demons, evangelize in the gifts and leading of the Spirit.
John wanted this for all Christians; he found the narrow way of remaining open to the whole Body. Ousted from a couple of denominations for ‘signs and wonders,’ John went low and refused to diss his accusers. Doctrinal differences that divided Christendom didn’t much concern him: I believe John understood King Jesus alone would judge ‘the bridesmaids’ so he didn’t waste time on it. He just loved the Church in all her diversity.
He wasn’t unaffected. Stung by her divisiveness, he discovered something of Jesus’ suffering, Who in turn gave him renewed power to love and build her up.
I had the great gift of accompanying John on international renewal efforts in the UK, France, Switzerland, and a few throughout the USA. He remained persistently true to merging the words of Christ with our works. He taught a little, waited, and the Spirit came through him to empower us as priests, prophets, and kings. Though one denomination may have sponsored the event, all stripes of Christians gathered. John loved the whole Church; her members loved him.
John’s renewal efforts throughout the world resulted in a large network of Vineyard churches. Annette and I were there at the start: our pastor Kenn Gulliksen handed over a small group of Vineyards (including ours) in Southern California to John’s leadership in 1982. Five years later, 700 Vineyards had sprung up around the world. Exciting. Challenging. Bittersweet.
Was John’s best effort a new denomination? Do we need another tribe with its distinctions to add to the ever-multiplying mix? Arguable. All I can say is that John’s renewal efforts around the globe still bear fruit. And the Vineyards I know still possess values that keep them open and servant-hearted to the whole Body. I never hear a discouraging word about Catholics. The Spirit still flows to empower a Kingdom people. Good work John. The Church is more whole because of you.
“Thank You Jesus for the grace to stay in our lane. You draw the lines, we discern them best we can, and trust You as we go. Help us learn from John and Carol to do our part with all that You give us. Help us to make the Church more whole.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”