John Wimber, one of the founding fathers of The Association of Vineyard Churches is one of my hero’s of the faith. I first learned of John in 1983 when He spoke at the chapel service at Life Bible College. I was a sophomore that year and I was astounded at the way God used him. In fact it was such a memorable experience that people who were there still talk about it to this day. For 25 years I watched John and the ministry of the Vineyard from a distance since my path had led me to be a part of the Foursquare Denomination. However in the summer of 2010 I was asked to become the pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Pine Haven Wyoming. It was at this time that my quest for knowledge and understanding of this man came to the forefront of my love for hero’s of the faith. When I started researching to find out more about John Wimber, I found that the resources and information was few and far between and spread out on many websites. In fact the number one resource for information about John was Wikipedia. Needless to say that Wikipedia was not a great source for information about John Wimber nor was it all that understanding. So I thought to myself I would put together a resource page for all of the people who still want to know more about John Wimber and for those that either have been touched by his ministry, books, sermons, and dvd’s.
Basic Facts about John Wimber.
John Richard Wimber was born the son of Basil Wimber and Genevieve Estelynn (Martin) Wimber. He was a native son of the State of Missouri. He was raised in a non-Christian and nonreligious family, but gave his life to Jesus in May 1963. He had worked as a musician and had previously been the keyboard player in the band The Paramours. He was the musical arranger to The Righteous Brothers. Wimber (then commonly called Johnny Wimber) was the one who introduced Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley and brought them together for the band The Paramours in 1962. After his salvation, he attended a Quaker church in Yorba Linda, California. It was during this time that he led hundreds of others to give their lives to Jesus. By 1970, he was leading 11 different Bible study groups that had more than 500 people attending.
In 1974 he was asked to become the Founding Director of the Department of Church Growth at the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth, which was started by the Fuller Theological Seminary and the Fuller Evangelistic Association. He led the department until 1978. During this time a church began to form in his home. This group began to investigate and adopt some of the beliefs of the Charismatic movement such as modern-day speaking in tongues and the ministry of healing. Since the Quaker church does not support these practices, the group began to seek others of like mind.
Wimber pastored this new church, which would later become known as the Anaheim Vineyard Christian Fellowship, from 1977 to 1994. Shortly, it outgrew his home and began to meet in rented facilities. They briefly joined with Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel movement, but when the leadership of Calvary Chapel chose to relegate the use of spiritual gifts to special meetings only for believers, John could not agree with this. That along with the fact that he did not come from a fundamentalist or dispensational background caused him to reject traditional Dispensationalism, and his understanding of the meaning and doctrine of the Kingdom of God was not a good fit with Chuck Smith‘s more fundamentalist and dispensationalist views. As a result, they left Calvary Chapel to join a small group of churches started by Kenn Gulliksen, known as Vineyard Christian Fellowships, which became The International Association of Vineyard Churches.
Wimber became a well-known bible teacher at international charismatic conferences with a focus on what he called “Power Evangelism” and divine healing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Wimber taught the concept of the Kingdom of God where the definition of that Kingdom was any place that the rule and reign of Jesus was established., and this teaching differed from many of his peers and predecessors. Wimber’s teachings and concepts led a friend, C. Peter Wagner, to coin the phrase, “The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit” to describe the concept he taught (and to avoid some current labels and their negative connotations). The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit was different from classic Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement, foremost, in their attitude towards speaking in tongues. Classical Pentecostals and Charismatics had emphasized the gift of tongues as the initial evidence for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Wimber and those he influenced taught that speaking in tongues was just one of the many spiritual gifts taught in the Bible. This teaching removed what was a major theological stumbling block to many mainstream Evangelicals.They could accept that “Signs and Wonders” were allowed in modern-day expressions of Christianity.
Wimber also differed from many of his contemporaries in his rejection of the Word of Faith movement, and the associated doctrines promoting wealth and showiness. The pursuit of authenticity was core to Wimber’s idea of church and he felt the success and performance mentality prevented hurting people to come to Jesus. This was reflected in the worship as well with songs that were honest prayers of people seeking answers.
John Wimber went to be with the Lord due to a brain hemorrhage on November 17, 1997, at age 63, following a fall in his bathroom. He had recently undergone coronary bypass surgery
Here is a list of my favorite John Wimber Quotes. They are taken from the official John Wimber Facebook Page moderated by the Yorba Linda Vineyard Christian Fellowship.
“If we believe in a theology that doesn’t contain doing the works of Jesus, we will not have a practice of Signs & Wonders…”
“It’s tragic to see faith healers get caught up in opulent life-styles, rationalizing their material wealth as a sign of ‘God’s blessing’. Greed & materialism are perhaps the most common cause of the undoing of many men & women with a healing ministry..”
“Our passion is to imitate the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. This requires we must follow Jesus out of baptismal waters, through our personal deserts, and into the harvest. We want to take the ammunition of the balanced evangelical theology with the fire power of Pentecostal practice, loading & readying the best of both worlds to hit the target of making & nurturing disciples…”
“Jesus came not only to bring the Kingdom of heaven to others, but to impart it to us as well..”
“Remember, the office finds the man, not the man finding the office..”
“If we serve Jesus then every act & thought has meaning. Acts of kindness aren’t just niceties, they become acts of worship..”
“One question you never want to ask God is, ‘What’s wrong with me– because He’ll tell you..”
“We need the poor as much as they need us..”
-”Many people ministering in meetings give great examples of how to take the spotlight off of the Holy Spirit & onto themselves..”
-”I realized at a certain point in ministry I could either get a tent and have a great ministry or empower, equip & release the Body of Christ to do it themselves I chose the latter as it was the Jesus model..”
“Faith is spelled R-I-S-K”
John Wimber’s Personal Testimony.
I had to search high and low for John Wimber video’s. Most are clips on YouTube but I found this full length video of John giving his personal testimony. I hope you enjoy it.John Wimber’s Personal Pilgrimage from yjk316 on GodTube.
That is the reason I can relate so well to John. I came from the same background with many of the same experiences. I just couldn’t and still can’t relate to the thought that “doin the stuff” was only for the days of the Apostles and not for today.
John Wimber Music
Not many people realize that John was not just a bible teacher but he was a musician. He is most famous for writing the chorus “Isn’t He” I tried to find a CD with John singing this song but was unable to, however I did find a collection of songs with John Wimber called Vineyard Acoustic Worship : Spirit Song. You can find that collection on my John Wimber Resources Page.
John Wimber Books.
John was a prolific writer and his books influenced my life and ministry in profound ways. The concepts taught in his books still fly in the face of contemporary thought when it comes to everyday people being able to “do the stuff” and the concept of really believing and seeing God do the miraculous through everyday people and not just by the superstars we put up on pedestals. I would encourage anyone to get their hands on every book that John wrote. I looked extensively for a list of his books. Go to my John Wimber Resource Page to find his books
John Wimber Sermons.
If you have never heard John Speak then you have missed something! John is an enjoyable teacher to listen to. He comes across with an authenticity that is not found very often anymore. He is not prideful or arrogant but just views himself as he puts it “A fat man just trying to get to heaven”. He has the ability to take complex concepts and put it into the language of everyday people. I would encourage you to get some of his sermons and listen for yourself. It has change both my life and way I present the gospel. I think it will change you too! You can find an extensive list of John Wimber Sermons on my John Wimber Resource Page.
John Wimber on Video
You can do a search on YouTube and get clips of John ministering on video but to find a complete video collection or the entire sermon is not nearly as easy. As much as John is enjoyable on a cd in your car or listening to in the background. John is much more enjoyable to watch live. In fact I am using one of John’s video’s right now in our small group meetings at the church. His mannerisms and facial expressions communicate so much that you cannot get by just listening. You can find the full video sermons that I have found that you might be interested in watching on my John Wimber Resource Page.
I think if you take the time to listen to John, to watch his ministry, and then look at the lasting fruit that has come because of his ministry, you will be able to say with me that John Wimber was a hero of the faith!