By Tri Robinson
For over thirty years Nancy and I have called the Vineyard “home.” We started by simply attending a Vineyard church before finding ourselves called into leadership as associate pastors in the Lancaster Vineyard under Brent Rue. Eight years later we planted a Vineyard more than 800 miles away in Boise, ID, where for the past twenty years we have served in our community, as well as within the Vineyard leadership structure, as regional overseers and on the national board for some of that time. Through it all we have developed a deep and lasting love for our spiritual family, always considering it a privilege to have the opportunity to lead.
“TAKE THE BEST AND GO” Part 2
Recapturing Our Roots of Fellowship and Our Call to Mission
By Tri Robinson
Although I didn’t know John Wimber well, for about seven years I attended national AVC board meetings with him as our leader. I witnessed the last days of his leadership in the Vineyard and will forever consider myself privileged for the experience. John was a man who put his pants on one leg at a time, but he was also a man who could hear God and wasn’t afraid to share what he’d heard. He led with a confidence and passion believing that the decisions he made and the direction he endeavored to take us was inspired by the Spirit. Without question John made some mistakes along the way, but no one can deny that God used him powerfully to start a significant move of God that gained momentum and still bears fruit to this day. For twenty years we legitimately referred to ourselves as the “Vineyard movement.” We were an association of churches drawn together by a life-giving culture that was both distinct and intangible. At times we felt and experienced who we were as a movement more than we could define it by some credo statement. Over the course of time statements emerged, mostly from John’s teaching that gave us language for who and what we were, statements like ”Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry”, ”A fellowship of Christian believers”, ”Doin’ the Stuff”, ”The Radical Middle”, ”Empowered’ Evangelicals” and many more. When it came to organization, John likened us more often as a tribe rather than an institution. As John defined us, it was somewhat confusing to those who demanded clear-cut parameters, yet for most of us it was organic and wonderful.
“TAKE THE BEST AND GO” Part 3
Building a Settlement While Retaining the Pioneer Spirit That Birthed It
By Tri Robinson
Those of us who have been called to lead in the midst of the church growth and church planting era are familiar with the allegorical concept which draws the parallel between a church movement with pioneers and settlers. John Wimber often used this analogy when communicating the subtle changes of our movement’s evolutionary development. For example, John once warned us saying, “Remember, church history reveals a cycle in which the homesteaders of one renewal movement persecute the pioneers of the most recent move.” At the time he said this we were in our pioneer phase of development being persecuted by another established ministry; yet I think he innately knew that over the course of time we too would become the established settlers.
In Quest of the “New” Radical Middle
At a Vineyard leadership conference held at the Anaheim Vineyard in the late 90s Todd Hunter (acting as our new AVC National Director) shared his perspective concerning John Wimber’s greatest contribution to the Body of Christ and the distinction that made the Vineyard unique to other Christian movements around the world. Todd put words to something we as leaders all innately knew. John had married the best of Evangelicalism with the best of Pentecostalism and presented it to the world as the new norm. Through John’s amazing ability to tell stories and communicate logical ideology he convinced thousands that “Spirit-filled Evangelicalism” (as Rich Nathan later put it) was the most effective form of Christianity. In its time, that concept seemed novel—even radical because it challenged people who were stuck in two opposing theological camps to see the virtue in both views. Later, Bill Jackson wrote the book, The Quest for the Radical Middle, which chronicled our history as a movement and illuminated the trials and tribulations as we endeavored to achieve this distinctive. (That is, holding two seemingly paradoxical Biblical views in tension.) John’s accomplishment was without question profound and will forever be a story worth telling, but what was once radical is no longer. Like Vineyard worship (which also had its day of unique, cutting edge distinctiveness), being a Spirit-filled Evangelical is no longer radical, but widely accepted. Those who are still on the “quest” believing that being Spirit-filled and believing in sound Kingdom theology is radical are falling behind the curve. For those of us who have participated in the Vineyard for a season of time, these issues should be a matter of elementary discipleship. The radical middle has now moved. Continue Reading