Thursday, April 02, 2009

Miracles and Christian Ministry #1

Me: How do you think we can build up attendance at our evening congregation?
Congregation member
: Signs and wonders, miraculous happenings…that’ll work.

It was hard to gauge the seriousness of this comment when it was made to me after one Sunday service, but after further conversations I am convinced that for some of my friends, signs and wonders are held to be a valid and expected part of Christian ministry. Recent history teaches us that my friends are not alone in holding these expectations. Back in the 1980’s John Wimber of the Vineyard movement promoted ‘power evangelism’ with its miraculous wonders as a model for Christian ministry; people will come to faith through hearing the word and seeing God ‘show up’ with various acts of supernatural power. Since this expectation is still held by some brothers and sisters (who may or may not be aware of John Wimber’s thought), I think it's time to engage with these views and to provide a way of understanding the place of the miraculous in our weekly ministry...


Roger Gallagher said...

I have to disagree with the comment that signs & wonders will work. Or, to put it better, signs & wonders aren't irresistible - you can see signs & wonders, and yet not believe. The Bible provides plenty of examples:

- The Israelites witnessed the 10 plagues of Egypt, and crossed the Red Sea, yet from them only Joshua & Caleb entered the promised land.

- In 1 Kings 18, we see the showdown between Yahweh & Baal. Yet in 1 Kings 19, God's display of power is being ignored (at least by Jezebel).

- The parallel passages of Matthew 11:20-24 & Luke 10:13-15 show Jesus proclaiming judgement on the towns of Korazin & Capernaum. They'd seen Jesus' miracles, yet they'd not repented nor followed Christ.

So while signs & wonders might possibly draw a crowd, that doesn't automtically result in repentance & following Christ.

Roger Gallagher said...

An interesting blog from John Piper on the subject:

Katherine said...


Maurice Harting said...

I used to be part of Vineyard, FourSquare, Full-Gospel and Pentecostal churches and if you want your church to grow artificially in numbers that would be the way to go.

Another artificial way would be to create a whole lot of programs, more song, dance and hoopla.

If you want your Christian Church to grow spiritually do 4 things and do them well: 1. Pray more and more specifically 2. Preach the Word of God expositionally 3. Worship God more in songs that glory Him, and 4. Have the Lord's Supper on a regular basis. In other words the emphasis and focus on Sunday worship services should be on God and His work. It ain't rocket science, but trying to re-invent the wheel is a waste of time! If you have comments on what I stated email me at:

Maurice Harting said...

And by the way ... John Wimber is dead and so should the Vineyard movement be. The only people that seek after signs and wonders are a wicked and adulterous generation the Bible tells us.
Trust in the Lord always and lean not on your own understanding in all ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight!
The biggest problem I see with the Vineyard movement is that they attempt to put their faith in faith, and any man-centered attempt to reach God is bound to fail.

Maurice Harting said...

Some of you would strongly disagree with me on this one, but as I see it, miracles of God are an exception to the norm, they are possible but not always probable. Walking on water for example only happened twice in the Bible (Jesus and Peter)and never since. Raising people from the dead physically also happened rarely (Lazarus). Even the greatest miracle of all (salvation) happens to comparatively few chosen ones called the remnant people of God who are on that narrow path. Remember that scripture ... many are called, but few are chosen?