This question has come up a lot lately in reference to Heartland Vineyard Church. It goes something like, “What is the vision of Heartland Vineyard Church?” Another way I’ve heard this put is, “Where is Heartland Vineyard Church going?” Let me take some time and describe what I saw nearly thirty years ago that gave my family and me a desire to move to the Cedar Valley and start this church from the ground up.
My wife and I attended our first Vineyard Church Conference in 1985. John Wimber, the founding pastor of the Vineyard Churches was teaching on the subject, “Church Planting and the Kingdom of God.” The material was powerful. John taught in this conference that the Kingdom of God was not a realm as with the United Kingdom. The Kingdom of God had nothing to do with a landmass like the British Common Wealth. The Kingdom of God was God taking pitifully broken people, maimed and hurt by the enemy, broken in their marriages, sick, in despair, abused, violent, hopeless and buried under a pile of shame and condemnation, imposing His good and perfect will in them and upon them and making right what had been wrong. John taught that the Kingdom of God was the rule and reign of God being enacted upon a broken and desperately needy world by ushering in healing, forgiveness, deliverance, freedom and prosperity.
When Jesus came to the earth and began His earthly ministry, the Kingdom of God was the subject of His teaching. Many of the parables He taught were illustrations of the Kingdom of God. His teaching was of God bringing wholeness into empty and void circumstances. Jesus not only taught the Kingdom of God with words, he demonstrated the Kingdom of God with acts of powerful works. Jesus was a word worker. His ministry was one of declaration and demonstration. He would tell and then show, and other times show and then tell.
This teaching began to give me vision. I could see in my mind’s eye sick people made well, anger and bitterness dissolved through forgiveness and relationships being healed. I could see families reconciled and neighborhoods renewed by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. I could see the poor lifted from their poverty and the wealthy becoming generous, loving stewards of all that God had entrusted to them.
The most exciting and interesting aspect about this conference was that once John was finished teaching he said, “Now we’re going to demonstrate what I’ve been talking about.” He would gently and without any hype say, “Come Holy Spirit.” In a few minutes, incredible things began to happen. People cried out, some fell to the floor, some writhed in anguish, hopelessness and despair. As this happened, hundreds of people moved toward these broken, hurting people and began to place their hands on them, praying for them, interceding for them in Jesus Name.
Demons left tortured souls with screams, people lying on the floor shook under the mighty hand of God as He exerted His love upon them and imposed His Kingdom rule. I heard a man near me cry out, “I can see!” We saw a middle age woman stand up from a wheelchair and walk. People wept and laughed while others shouted praise to God. The Kingdom of God had come.
As we watched for hours, God did one miracle after another. And while all this was going on, Jesus began to place a vision in my heart. It came at first as a question. What if there were 10 people who were so completely sold out to continuing the ministry of Jesus, so full of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus…what could happen to their city over time? And what if there weren’t just 10 but what if there were 100 people harnessed with the raw power of God, ushering into their city the Kingdom of God; God’s rule and reign? What if there were 1,000 of these devoted followers of Jesus.
Over the next few years, God moved over my heart and in 1988, sent our family to the Cedar Valley to establish a church that would be dedicated to equipping an army of fully devoted disciples who would extend the Kingdom of God as they experienced and then expressed the compassion and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That vision is still in my heart. It is still the thing I think about when I get up and motivates me to get going every morning. It is still what I pray over our church.
As we prepare to celebrate our 25th year as a church, I am convinced that our anniversary is not a landmark but rather a launch pad. I believe that God, the Holy Spirit is prepared to once again move mightily over the earth. The question is, will we be on board with the coming of His Kingdom.
Open your heart to a new, fresh infilling of God’s Holy Spirit. Open your heart to an increase of grace and the knowledge of the Son of God. Anticipate a loving new wave of God’s powerful presence.
With that we say, “Come Holy Spirit.”