Part of the Vineyard story started in a small living room of ordinary people looking to find God and be with him. This small living room of people, led by John Wimber, had been burnt by church, but knew their answer could be found in the presence of God. As God began to show up, this small living room of people grew.
In the meantime the first Vineyards were planted in 1975. By 1982, there were at least seven “Vineyards” in a loose-knit fellowship of churches. Kenn Gulliksen, a soft-spoken, non-assuming leader who had a passion to know and walk with God, started a church in Hollywood, California in 1974. In 1975 , believing that God had instructed him to do so, he gave the name “Vineyard” to this association of churches and provided leadership for these churches for about five years.
In the early eighties, Kenn felt led to ask John Wimber to assume leadership for the emerging movement and in 1982 , “The Association of Vineyard Churches.” emerged.
John Wimber and the Development of the Association of Vineyard Churches
John Wimber’s influence profoundly shaped the theology and practice of Vineyard churches from their earliest days until his death in November, 1997. When John was conscripted by God he was, in the words of Christianity Today, a “beer-guzzling, drug-abusing pop musician, who was converted at the age of 29 while chain-smoking his way through a Quaker-led Bible study” (Christianity Today, editorial, Feb. 9 1998).
In John’s first decade as a Christian he led hundreds of people to Christ. By 1970 he was leading 11 Bible studies that involved more than 500 people. John became so fruitful as an evangelical pastor he was asked to lead the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. He also later became an adjunct instructor at Fuller Theological Seminary where his classes set attendance records. In 1977, John re-entered pastoral ministry to plant Calvary Chapel of Yorba Linda.
John believed that everyone got to do the stuff of Jesus and that this wasn’t reserved for the charismatic or gifted few.
As he became more convinced of God’s desire to be active in the world through all the biblical gifts of the Spirit, John began to teach and train his church to imitate Jesus’ ministry. He began to “do the stuff” of the Bible, about which he had only read about.
As John and his congregation, mostly made up of former Quakers, sought God in intimate worship, they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, significant renewal in the gifts, conversions and growth. In 1982, John’s church left Calvary Chapel and joined the Vineyard churches.
Today, almost 40 years later, there are more than 1,500 Vineyard churches worldwide, 550+ in the US, including over 100 in the UK with an emphasis on church planting. Development of close friendships and contacts in the UK, which included several trips and conferences, saw the first Vineyard Churches planted in the UK in the late 1980s which have continued to grow and multiply leading to the establishment of Vineyard Churches UK in 1996. Vineyard Churches UK
From the beginning worship was and still is an integral part of the DNA of the Vineyard. With the launch of Vineyard Music and subsequently Vineyard Music UK, music and worship continues to be expressed and developed by the local church for the church. Over the last few decades this has had a large impact on the culture of worship in the wider church and has helped thousands of churches experience greater intimacy with God. Vineyard Records UK
The Vineyard’s journey has not been a straight path. It winds through many trials and triumphs. If you are interested in more, there are a number of books and DVDs available from Vineyard Resources that explore the history, events, issues and people who shaped the Vineyard in its first two decades.