Letting God Speak | John Wimber
By John Wimber
I’m no stranger to corporate planning. For years I’ve been involved in the church growth movement, which has contributed much to the technical understanding of how to run a church. I have designed five and ten year master plans for Christian organizations. I am familiar with the process of sorting through ideas, establishing goals, putting plans down on paper, and helping people to advance. I am not against planning. I am in favor of planning after God speaks.
God wants to speak. The challenge lies not in getting God to guide us, but in waiting on him faithfully so as to hear him.
At the Vineyard we have experienced discernment regarding where geographically to focus our efforts, what goals to set for growth, how to arrange pastoral structures, when to hold major events, and similar matters. I do not believe there is anything abnormal about this, anything that other churches and groups should not also expect to experience.
We also receive discernment for outreach activities. The Lord will give us a sensitivity to some place or group, indicating that we are to go either here or there, if we are to work with this age group or that age group, if we are to use this kind of deployment rather than that kind. As a staff at the Anaheim Vineyard we sense that this is the next move and unite in taking it together.
These decisions involve the use of discernment-type gifts. We call them loosley, “the eyes of God” or “the eyes of the Spirit”. These are gifts such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the distinguishing of spirits, prophetic gifts, and, less often, tongues and interpretation. Having had this experience of guidance, we never plan before God speaks. We often find ourselves like a ship at sea without wind, all our sails sagging. We could develop a plan, but there is no impetus for it. The Spirit of God is not speaking.
I should note that we are not very successful in “getting God” to speak. We find there are long periods when we cannot “get anything out of him” that is immediately relevant to planning. And so we spend a significant amount of time, sometimes months on end, simply seeking the Lord and asking him to give us direction.
We don’t sit on our hands during those periods when we do not sense guidance. We have many things in place from God speaking to us in the past. We do not abandon them. We mustn’t confuse waiting on the Lord with doing nothing.
For more on this subject, we recommend the tape series on “Guidance”, “Spiritual Gifts Parts 1 & 2”, “Walking with Purpose” or “Hearing Gods Voice”, by John Wimber.
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