An important congregation in the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC), the Metro Vineyard Fellowship of Kansas City, in August resigned its membership in the organization.
Pastor Mike Bickle sent a 14-page directive to the denomination's executive council declaring that he had been confronted by the Lord "in a sudden, yet dramatic, way concerning an issue of compromise grounded in the fear of man." Bickle states that the "divinely orchestrated turn of events" that led to the split arose out of a direct prophetic word from Paul Cain, several private dreams, and a growing suspicion that the Vineyard movement did not share Bickle's views on intercession and the prophetic.
Todd Hunter, the Vineyard's national coordinator, told ct there would be "initial pain and confusion much like the split with the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship" (CT, Jan. 8, 1996, p. 66), but that "in the long run it would be beneficial."
Hunter says that the AVC board rejects the accusation in Bickle's letter that the Toronto decision was based on "fear, jealousy, and lack of wisdom." Several members in the Vineyard movement told CT they are angered both over Bickle's judgments against the Vineyard and his lack of loyalty to Vineyard leader John Wimber.
Bickle told CT that he "loves the Vineyard" and that he does not want this separation to be construed as an attack. His church has been renamed Metro Christian Fellowship. Many in the Vineyard viewed the Kansas City church with suspicion when it joined the movement five years ago because of its reliance on questionable prophecies (CT, Jan. 14, 1991, p. 18).
Copyright © 1996 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Last Updated: October 4, 1996
Find hope and historical insight. For a limited time, explore 60+ years of CT archives for free!
- Daily devotions from Timothy Dalrymple during this pandemic.
- Hundreds of theology and spiritual formation classics from Philip Yancey, Elisabeth Elliot, John Stott, and more.
- Thought journalism that inspires you to think more deeply about your faith.
- Learn more