John Wimber

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John Wimber (born February 25, 1934 in Peoria , Illinois , † November 17, 1997 ) was an American musician, founding director of the department for church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary and founder of the Vineyard Church movement . He was one of the leading figures in the charismatic movement in North America and Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.


Wimber grew up in a non-religious family. He became a Christian during a marital crisis in May 1963 after playing keyboard for several years in the jazz band Righteous Brothers . In the years that followed, he attended Yorba Linda Friends Church , a Quaker church , and led hundreds of people to Christ through personal conversion work . In 1970 he graduated from Azusa Pacific University, in the same year became second pastor of his Quaker church for five years.

In 1974 he became the founding director of the Church Growth Department at the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth , which was founded by the Fuller Theological Seminary and the Fuller Evangelization Association. He headed this institute until 1978. At the same time, his Bible study grew into a domestic church. In 1977 the first service took place with Wimber as pastor. He began to pray for the sick and to train his church members in the ministry of healing the sick. As this group continued to develop in a charismatic direction, it resulted in the separation from the Quaker community to which the group originally belonged. Wimber and his congregation joined the Calvary Chapel congregation of Chuck Smith until 1982.

From 1981 to 1985 Wimber was able to give further lectures on the subjects of signs, miracles and church growth at the Fuller Theological Seminary . After that he was also on the road as a lecturer around the world, often entire congresses were held on such topics, where he was the main speaker.

In 1993, Wimber was diagnosed with cancer and successfully treated with chemotherapy. In 1997 a bypass operation became necessary. While convalescing from this procedure, Wimber died on November 16, 1997 of a cerebral haemorrhage.

Foundation of the Vineyard

In 1982, the congregation became a separate, independent church, the Anaheim Vineyard Christian Fellowship . Together with Ken Gulliksen and his congregation, which was also part of Calvary Chapel, they form the Vineyard Christian Fellowship . Wimber was pastor of this growing congregation from 1977 to 1994, which was first in Yorba Linda and from 1983 in Anaheim. Other independent churches joined the Vineyard Movement.

In 1985 he founded the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC) and became its international director. Initially, he refused to expand to Europe, but changed his mind after 1990, and the expansion was deliberately promoted.

In 1995 Wimber excluded the Toronto Airport Vineyard Congregation, where the Toronto blessing began, from the Vineyard movement because certain manifestations such as animal sounds had gone too far for him. A year later, he left the Metro Vineyard Fellowship in Kansas City , where the Kansas City prophets had gained worldwide attention. They were excluded because they could not agree on the amount and form of additional prophecies beyond the Bible, because Wimber refused to write new prophecies outside of the Bible.

At the same time he began with the independence of the churches in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa and New Zealand, because these church associations had reached a certain size that allow independent existence and effectiveness.

After his death in 1997, his colleague Bob Fulton was his successor.


John Wimber became one of the formative leaders of the charismatic movement through his charisma, integrity, honesty, joie de vivre and recognition of his own limits. While at Fuller Theological Seminary , Wimber came into contact with many Third World Christians. Their churches often grew and their worldview was far less influenced by the Enlightenment , so that miracles and spiritual experiences found far more space than in the West. He was a well-known speaker at international charismatic conferences that also took place twice in Germany. His speeches focused on evangelism , prayer , healing through the power of the Holy Spirit , miracles and church growth. From 1989 to 1991 prophecy also played an important role for a short time.


John Wimber has been criticized by conservative evangelicals such as the German Alexander Seibel and others. They accused him of having been too adaptable with his winning nature and of making too big promises with a lot of charm regarding the healing of the sick, prophecies and revivals, which then would not have been fulfilled.


John Wimber also wrote several books, some with Kevin Springer, that influenced the charismatic movement:

  • A Brief Sketch of Signs and Wonders through the Church Age. Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Placentia, California 1984
  • Signs and Wonders and Church Growth. Vineyard Ministries International, Placentia, California 1984
  • Power Evangelism. Hodder & Stoughton 1986. (2013. ISBN 978-1-4447-5027-0 )
  • Power Healing. HarperOne 1987. (2009. ISBN 978-0-06-069541-5 )
  • Power encounters. Harper & Row, San Francisco 1988
  • The Dynamics of Spiritual Growth. 1990
  • Power Points. Harper & Row, San Francisco 1991
in German translation
  • With Kevin Springer: Empowered Evangelism. Gerth, Projektion J, Wiesbaden 1986 and Gerth, Asslar 2000. ISBN 978-3-89490-333-6
  • With Kevin Springer: healing in the power of the spirit. Projektion J, Wiesbaden 1987 and Jesus Freaks, Remscheid 2010. ISBN 978-3-925352-06-5 (several editions)
  • Forgiveness in the Kingdom of God - How God's Grace Can Transform Your Life Projection J, Wiesbaden 1987.
  • With Kevin Springer: The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit, what comes after the renewal? Projection J, Wiesbaden 1988.
  • Community in the kingdom of God. How Christians should live together. Projektion J, Wiesbaden 1989. ISBN 978-3-925352-27-0
  • Life in the Kingdom of God. How God can change your character. Projection J, Wiesbaden. ISBN 978-3-925352-12-6
  • Suffering in the kingdom of God. How to deal with spiritual trials. Projection J, Wiesbaden. ISBN 978-3-925352-14-0
  • Service in the kingdom of God. How to Know God's Plan for Your Life. Projection J, Wiesbaden. ISBN 978-3-925352-13-3
  • Authority in the Kingdom of God. How to Powerfully Share the Gospel. ISBN 978-3-925352-28-7
  • Insights into the kingdom of God. What the Bible Says About the Lordship of God. Projection J, Wiesbaden 1991.
  • The Path to Spiritual Maturity - A Faith Course for Self-Study and Small Groups. Projektion J, Hochheim 1993. ISBN 978-3-89490-023-6

Web links

Individual evidence

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  4. Evangelical information point in Switzerland