From New Wine to New Wineskins?

  

The 20th Century was about New Wine…the 21st Century is about New Wineskins… 

For those of us who know a little of our history…the Charismatic Movement has been in full swing for over 50 years now…and the Charismatic Renewal (particularly amongst Anglicans in the UK) for at least 30 years… 

The Charismatic (restoring David’s Tent style worship- with ‘live’ bands and contemporary songs, not just organs and hymns et al, the use of the gifts of the Spirit, equipping the Saints in this regard…foundation teaching on ‘grace’, and since around 1990 the return of the Ephesians 4:11 ministries in the language of denominational and emerging churches and foundational teaching on ‘The Father’s Heart’ and so forth) is of course part of a much wider global story birthed out of the ‘Pentecostal Movement‘ of the 20th Century

Beginning when people who thought ‘tongues were not for today‘ started to study and find that they were (around 1900-1905), then began to seek for that ‘blessing‘ and practice it…to people ‘waiting on the Spirit‘ and being ‘Slain in the Spirit‘…to people who just wanted to be ‘Naturally Supernatural‘ and ‘Do the Stuff‘ that Jesus did (i.e. ‘Heal the Sick‘ and ‘Drive out Demons‘ in the 1980’s) to those doing ‘Healing on the Streets‘ (circa 1990’s), ‘Treasure Hunting‘ and ‘Prophetic Readings‘ at Mind, Body and Spirit fairs (circa 2000’s)… 

 The 20th Century was really the Century of the Spirit…in the sense that it was the century where the worldwide church rediscovered that the Third Person of the Trinity is ‘for today’…that we can ‘experience Him’ and ‘receive His gifts’ and ‘power to be his witnesses’…although we are still learning the part about ‘walking in the Spirit’ (but that’s on a whole other level entirely)

The 20th Century was the century of ‘reformation’ (or maybe ‘revival’ or ‘restoration’) in the sense that the first reformation was ‘the Bible being put into the hands of ordinary believers not just the Latin version read by authorised priests’…this second reformation was about ‘The Spirit and His gifts made available to the ordinary disciples…not only to the “anointed…or special man or woman of God”‘

However…we are now over 40 years on since the Charismatic version (for the denominations…) and over 100 years on since the beginnings of the Pentecostal version (for the non-denominations…and I would argue…the working classes, the dispossessed and the so-called ‘ethnic churches’ and ‘global churches’) and over 30 years on from the Third Wave (for the middle class) 

 So what is God up to in this season? In our times?

We are now in the 21st Century…and we stand on the shoulders of Giants…we embrace all the aspects of God and the gifts and ministries He sends…that others in the past have fought and died for or paid a price to ‘redeem’ and ‘restore’ to us…so we continue with the word (evangelical style) and we continue with the Spirit (pentecostal style) and we continue with the Gifts and Ministries (charismatic style) and we continue with the Signs, Wonders and Church Growth (third wave/vineyard/New Wine/prophetic movement style) and we even re-appropriate the best of the ancient (Celtic-monastic-Catholic traditions)… 

 But is God up to something new? A Next chapter in His unfolding History?

Many have written that we are indeed in a New Reformation (a third reformation)…and this reformation is about the shape and nature of church…(returning to the patterns of church life and the pictures of church evident in the New Testament…accepting that they are indeed ‘for today’)

i.e. the church does not need to meet in a special building, on a special day, with special services, and special priests administering special stuff…but that the church can meet in homes, cafes, parks, pubs, clubs, workplaces…‘wherever life happens’- Neil Cole 

 
‘Mission-Shaped Ministry’…a book published by the Anglican Church of Great Britain circa 2004…did much to publicise ‘experiments’ in church planting that had been taking place on the margins particularly through the 90’s and to ‘give permission’ and a ‘platform’ to those pioneering new forms of church for the 21st century…since that time there has been a literal explosion of Fresh Expressions and ‘New forms of church‘ across Britain and catapulting across Europe and into the Western World as the Anglican and Methodist foundations of this initiative broaden to take the weight of increasingly more and more denominations old and new and ‘parachurch’ agencies joining the fun…Leslie Newbiggen’s writings are beginning to find their fulfilment… 

 
This Reformation is a Reformation of Structure (‘wineskins’ or as we like to call it ‘new forms’)…

Putting the ‘church’ back into the hands of ‘ordinary people’ (anyone can start a church in their ‘home’, ‘work’ or leisure’)

It’s the church small as well as big…the church that exists on many levels…from the church that meets in your home (aquila and priscilla style) to the church that meets across your city (corinth style- ‘to the church in Corinth’) to the church that is truly movemental (‘the churches across Asia’, the ‘churches in Galatia’…’We have no other pattern…and practice the same in all our churches’)

But this 21st Century Reformation doesn’t stop with church structure (the proverbial question of the 2000’s being What is Church? For more on this See here!) it goes on to ask the question…how do churches form in new people groups and places…rediscovering that Jesus’ Luke 10 instructions are also ‘for today’ (finding the ‘Person of Peace’ who gathers their ‘oikos’ intentionally to receive the message of Jesus/Gospel of the Kingdom and discipling of their household et al)… 

 But it goes much further than that…this reformation then begins to ask the question…’what is a disciple‘ and how do we ‘make disciples who make disciples‘ Matt 28:18-20, 2 Tim 2:2 style…
This really begins to upset the apple cart (in the same way that when tongues and spiritual gifts broke out amongst ordinary people who didn’t know they were’ not for today…those in authority got well cross) when the question is asked ‘who is allowed to baptise?‘ (biblical answer- whoever led them to christ/discipled them?) and ‘when can they be baptised?‘ (biblical answer- wherever there is water and immediately?) and when the pattern of whole households being baptised at once is also mentioned…(cough…moving on…) 

 And the Reformation of the 21st Century will go much further in expecting movement to be the result of our disciple making and church formation as multiplication is factored in as ‘fruit we are looking for and expecting’ as we plant ‘kingdom seed’…just as Jesus said…in good soil, the seed produces 30, 60 or 100 times that which was sown…Jesus then speaks of yeast and so on in his Matt 13 story telling…and seems to have fun doing so…(Movement Catalysts like Steve Smith, Bill Smith, Jeff Sundell, Victor Choudhrie, George Patterson, Curtis Sergeant, David L Watson and more have written and trained in these principles globally- Roland Allen and Vincent Donovan’s writings are beginning to find their home. For more on this SEE HERE)

 
New Wine started circa 1990 and is one of Britain’s (and Europes) largest christian event/festivals attracting up to 20,000+ people every year…this has spawned the New Wine network of churches…that value worship, word and ministry…Also in the early 90’s, Alpha, started at Holy Trinity Brompton, grew wings and spread across the world…a packaged witness that ‘ordinary people’ can facilitate in their homes or wherever they want…and at St. Tom’s Mike Breen and team grew a church in North England through the use of ‘Missional Communities’…a light weight, low maintenance vehicle for ‘extended families on a mission’…this paragraph was a short overview outlining a transition that has been taking place from New Wine to New Wineskins… 

 In any city you go to now in Britain…the Pentecostal and the Charismatic and now even the New Wine has swept through…you will be hard pressed to find a major town in the UK that doesn’t have Vineyard or Charismatic inflected vision, values or style…regardless of whether these Wimberisms are to be found in a Anglican, Baptist, Newfrontiers or United Reformed church…(don’t you just love John Wimber 🙂

But the sons and daughters of Wimber or even Arthur Wallis or Bryn Jones…particularly pioneering types, and particularly since 2000 have begun to struggle with the inflexibility of the wineskin for the season we’re in…the 90’s big barns of blessing for those in famine (Joseph style) have become control centres of Pharaoh who need many Moses’ types to call out ‘Let My People Go to Serve me in the Desert’…but Pharaoh hardened his heart… 

 And the sons and daughters of the Geoffrey Brothers/Wigglesworth/Seymours are beginning to shuffle in their seats when the anointing and offering are flowing or the big screens are blazing and the book stores are overflowing with merchandise…whilst the inner-cities are blazing and the working class towns are crumbling…they want to fight but instead are given a religious show with nothing to show for it…

When there was a famine in the land…a lady was told to go to her neighbours and friends and ask them for empty jars…as long as there were jars the oil flowed…as soon as the jars ran out…the oil stopped…I wonder if the same is true with new wineskins and new wine… 

 Everytime we train a new ordinary person to open up their home and their fridge (as Wolfgang Simson would say), or their workplace for a Jesus-community that meets in a lunch time or after work over a beer, or their leisure/hobby environment to gather a group to read the bible and do what it says together…and they do it…the oil flows…are you dry…open new wineskins…

And so…at the end of the 20th Century…when you walk into any ‘normal church’ it’s not unusual to hear contemporary sound…or even a ‘word’, ‘prophecy’ or ‘revelation’ coming from ‘ordinary people’…but at the beginning of the 20th Century a person doing any such thing could expect to be thrown out of church…and even ex-communicated… 

 At the beginning of the 21st Century (in the West at least)…it is still mostly ‘ordained’ people who lead or plant churches…it is still mostly ‘church leaders or staff’ who baptised people…it is still mostly senior pastors or authorised people who ‘served bread and wine’…and the society’s conception of church is still a building only religious people go to on Sundays to listen to a priest read sermons…and it is still the view of most christians that they are simply to go to church, maybe pay their tithes and offerings…maybe serve in a ministry once a month if they want and that the pastors or leaders job is to win people to christ, and the churches job to disciple people informally… 

 But what if by the end of the 21st Century (should Jesus not return sooner) it is ‘normal’ to find churches meeting everywhere (you walk into a pub and you bump into one, you go for a coffee, and there you find one again…you’re at work and one meets in the canteen)…and ordinary disciples baptising new disciples daily in a way that is as orthodox as ordinary disciples practicing a gift of the spirit…and ordinary disciples practising the Lords Supper in a way that is as orthodox as ordinary disciples starting a ‘project amongst the poor’

Even now…we still give platforms to, celebrate and line up for and hold our hands out palm up for anything and anyone concerned primarily with the New Wine…but we run from anything that puts the responsibility for witness, making disciples and forming new Jesus-communities squarely in our hands and feet…and even more radically…the hands and feet of new ‘believers’ and ‘one day old’ disciples… 

 
Jesus said ‘As the Father sent me, so I send you…’ 

Are you living in the 21st Century…or basking in the afterglow of the 20th? 

 Come with us into the future…and prepare your wineskins for the new wine being poured out in this century…otherwise…like those of the past…you could be part of a generation who having received the ‘blessing’ in their day…’fight the emerging generation’ who are receiving ‘something new’

And if you are relatively new to any of this ‘christian speak and history’
Just read the Bible…perhaps starting in the New Testament…listen to Jesus…and do what he says (without conforming to ‘traditions of men’ that are passed their sell by date)

Share

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew April 8, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Hello… The article I just read.. well researched and very informative. . Very timely.. the lord is doing a new thing. In spirit and power..

Reply

Geoff Daplyn April 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm

I agree with the general analysis of the 20th century, but am not sure that 21st century is the time purely for the wineskin. It seems that every fresh move of God bringing new revelation from the scriptures, has rarely been able to be accommodated by the existing religious system, and new expressions of church have had to develop to host what God was doing. Lutherans, Methodists, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, and charismatics have all seen it necessary to evolve a new wineskin, as the old system opposed what God was doing and would have nothing to do with it. But in all cases the new wine came before a new wineskin evolved.

Over the last few decades, there has been an increasing trend for believers to desert both traditional and non-traditional forms of organised church. Most have not been ‘backsliding’ as such, but rather they seem to have been seeking a more authentic expression of their faith. The reaction to this has been an increased emphasis in finding new ways to ‘do’ church which might stall the leakage. Whilst there is much Christian activity is focussed on wineskins, whether building new wineskins or renewing the old, we have to ask the question: have we got this the wrong way round?

There is no need for new wineskins if there is no new wine. Of themselves, new wineskins cannot produce new wine, but there seems to be very little emphasis on seeking new wine. The result is that new wineskins abound a-plenty, but there seems to be an absence of new wine.

Why is this? Well, I believe the answer may be simple: new wineskins can easily be created by man, whereas new wine can only come from Heaven. The former we can create, control and instigate when and where we want. Human beings do not lack ideas in this area. New wine, however, is completely out of our control and leaves us totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit. The wind blows where it will!

When God doesn’t seem to be providing any new wine, perhaps we feel we have to do something to keep congregations interested, active and motivated. So we have had the seeker-sensitive church, the purpose driven church, the cell church, the upside down church, the mega church, the organic church, the signs and wonders church, de-constructed church, house church, together with church growth movements, church planting movements, and many other new forms of church.

Of course when we talk of church in this context, we don’t mean the biblical definition of church – eklesia: the called out ones – we mean the organisation, the structures, the denomination, the movement, the ‘called-out ones’ gathered and organised together. Maybe we think discovering the right wineskin will help to make the new wine begin to flow.

It’s true that each of the above has had some success when it has been implemented, but then anything new will have some momentum as strong leaders lead, and the people follow. We must also acknowledge that most of this success has been in re-energising the faithful – a good cause, but a lot easier than reaching those in the world, outside the faith.
It is, however, a far cry from the authentic new wine of Heaven.

So there is a huge disconnect currently between what Christian leaders and their congregations are focussing on, and what the world is interested in. Christians are talking about church (wineskins) and trying to make it relevant, whilst the very word is a turn-off for many in the world, who see church as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Perhaps we need more focus on seeking God for more new wine. I have a suspicion that when new wine comes, the wineskin will take care of itself.

Reply

admin April 13, 2015 at 10:54 am

Thanks Geoff for your excellent comments!
I agree with what you have written…

What’s the point in creating manmade vessels (‘wineskins’) to acommodate ‘new wine’ if there isn’t any new wine?

And even worse…try to alter the way we do church to try to keep the wheels in motion…to try to generate that which is lacking…namely the Spirit of Jesus working through his Body…his ekklesia!

And even worse…what is the point of endless discussions about ‘what is church?’ and tinkering on the edges…when those who don’t go to church are not even bothered!

This is all of course true and I actually share these very same concerns!

In history though…there have been those who have ‘set themselves on fire and others have come to watch them burn’ (John Wesley who was involved in fashioning new wineskins in his generation)

John Knox who said ‘Give me Scotland or I die’ burned with passion for Jesus at a time when those around him didn’t seem to be experiencing any ‘New Wine’ (outpouring of God’s Spirit, love, power, and new people entering into the Kingdom)

William Booth (cofounder of the Salvation Army) had a vision of multitudes of people drowning in the sea of life where Jesus was toiling whilst established christians called out to Jesus to come and bless them in their existing churches…WIlliam and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army allowed God to pour out his Spirit on them at a time Christians around them had become complacent and comfortable…they hosted all night prayer…and the people who showed up were the ‘notorious sinners’ (it was all too rowdy and uncouth for the ‘christians’ of their day)

Yes we need the New Wine…the Holy Spirit is available to all of us who call on His name and continue to be led by Him…as it is written…the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey him…

He has been available to young and old, men and women, of all tribes and tongues ever since the Holy Spirit was poured out on all sorts of people on the day of Pentecost…

And every generation who seeks Him afresh will hear what The Spirit of Jesus is saying to the churches in their time and their generation…

Those of us who are already experiencing this New Wine and seeing the harvest of new people/new generations (Generations XYZ) coming into the Kingdom already see and realise that the Old forms/wineskins no longer fit…

We’ve already tried to put ‘young gang members’ into existing churches/structures that don’t fit them

We’ve already tried to put ‘prostitutes coming out of their former way of life’ into old wineskins that cannot stretch to fit in whole new people groups…

We’ve already tried to bring ‘New Age hippy types’ into existing congregations to the detriment of both

We’ve already tied to bring young adults under the age of 30 into churches that don’t even know what social media is or how to use it

We’ve already tried to fit the new paradigms of ekklesia, Kingdom colonies, movemental church and city wide/regional networks of interdependent radical Jesus-centred communities who love Him and love their neighbour into churches that have been going on a revelation of God from the 1960’s or the 1980’s to little effect…

Hence the need for articles such as the one I’ve written
And the need for New Wineskins for this New Wine as Jesus made blatantly clear in Matt 9:14-17

I’ve just written a new article about Jesus’ instruction that by doing this we will also Preserve the Old

Reply

John Rycroft April 18, 2015 at 1:39 pm

It is wonderful to hear of, or talk about revival. Unfortunately most people talk about it in the abstract, or about churches needing to pray for “it”.
In fact, if your attention has been caught by the necessity of experiencing a life changing move of God in your area, there is only one person who can start it, and THAT IS YOU. Most of the concepts of God,s blessing in the New Testament are in doing words (however they may have been translated). So! If you have read them, and believe that God has spoken to you, then you should be DOing them.
Jesus saw the multitudes (and individuals) with compassion, and responded with what He saw the Father DO. Our mission prayer should be for a repentance that leads us into compassion, which will cause us to rise up to DO. Don,t worry the power is already within you if you have the Holy Spirit baptism. (Eph 3 v20)

Reply

admin April 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Exactly John…

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: