I witnessed what could be a historic moment in the Vineyard movement a few weeks ago. Over 50 youth leaders and pastors lined up in two lines to create a prayer tunnel at a Vineyard winter youth conference called Middle School White Out hosted in Buena Vista, CO over President’s Day weekend. More than 200 middle school students representing a generation passed through the tunnel praying to receive the mantle (anointing) of John Wimber, specifically in the areas of worship and prayer.
It wasn’t Mother’s Day, made famous in our circles by Wimber stories, but it was the day after Valentine’s Day, which is nearly as memorable. (For those of you reading this who don’t know, John Wimber was one of the key founders of the Vineyard movement of churches and Vineyard worship music during the ’80s and ’90s.) In some ways this prayer tunnel at a winter youth conference was symbolic. In other ways it could be said that when the leaders placed their hands on top of the students’ heads as they passed by and prayed short blessing prayers over them, the students were receiving an awareness of having received everything available at the cross. This would include every anointing and blessing seen in the men and women who make up the history of Christianity.
Our inheritance in the Vineyard movement is vast. Social justice, signs and wonders, power evangelism, and church-planting–just to name a few. Our inheritance from Jesus and the cross is without measure. A great theologian once made this astute observation: Jesus can give no less than his whole self. So whether or not you believe that it’s a good idea to ask God for a double portion of someone’s blessing, a double anointing of someone’s anointing, or even the mantle of John Wimber, certainly it lies within the borders of orthodox Christianity to ask for an awareness of having received everything available from Jesus on the cross including His righteousness. Didn’t Jesus say that we would do even greater things than him? Surely that comes through standing on the shoulders of other great men and women of the faith, including Jesus himself.
It’s been said that when John Wimber died, God was not looking for a man or woman to pass his mantle on to. God was looking for a generation.
Watching these middle school students receive blessing one-by-one as they passed through the prayer tunnel at Middle School White Out was reminiscent of Vineyard USA’s National Conference this past summer, where the National Director of Vineyard USA Phil Strout invited hundreds of children to pass one-by-one on the stage in front of a praying crowd of pastors and leaders who were praying that these kids would receive blessing and impartation of the gifts of God to go and do great things empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I believe God wants kids and youth to matter just as much as adults. This prayer tunnel was a picture of just that! These middle school students receiving blessing from their leaders and pastors gave a moving picture of the Vineyard being an inter-generational movement. For students to attend this winter youth conference, it required lead pastors and parents and families to provide funding and permission. For leaders and youth pastors to pray blessing, it required an open-handed approach toward young people that says, “Jesus, I am willing to give away any good gift that has been given to me, because I trust that you will give it back to me many times over.” The students then went back home with encouraging stories of how God met them. This is every generation lighting each other’s inner fire. This is the Holy Spirit being poured out on every generation or what some people would call “The Generation.” This is the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh as described in Acts 2.
Personally, the whole idea of mantles and prayer tunnels and the like sounds like something you’d hear about in the Pentecostal stream of Christianity. I grew up in that stream and I’m not freaked out by it, but at the same time I know that’s not who I am now in the Vineyard. As a Vineyard youth pastor I’m always looking for ways to stay in what we in the Vineyard call “the tension,” “the radical middle,” or “the both/and.” I want everything that the Holy Spirit wants to give to me, but I also want to stay aware of outsiders, and as much as possible I don’t want anything in my approach or expression of Christianity to stumble periphery people or outsiders.
That being said, this past June I embarrassingly admitted in a phone conversation with another Vineyard youth pastor that I had been asking God for a double portion of John Wimber’s anointing. Not because I was self-absorbed or had delusions of grandeur; mostly it was because I saw the tasks and commission that God had placed in front of me, and I knew that I would need at least everything given to John Wimber just to survive. The response I got in the phone conversation surprised me both theologically and with the effect it has had on my walk with Jesus ever since.
From that day forward, things have changed for me. There has been a hunger for God’s word and a fire for the things of God in my life like I’ve never experienced before. I’ve experienced complete victory in some areas of life-long struggle. Just in these past few weeks, I’ve seen breakthrough in our church in the areas of worship and prayer unseen in years. Maybe those middle school students in that prayer tunnel were connected somehow to the very throne room of God. Well, actually–I’m confident that they were.
I believe God wants to give everything away because he is so generous. God wants to give John Wimber’s mantle and a full inheritance from the Vineyard movement to an entire generation. God wants to give a complete inheritance from Jesus made available on the cross, given freely by the Father, and made available by the Holy Spirit–to an entire generation.
It’s yours. It’s already been given to you, and there’s nothing else to be done to earn it. Now walk in it.