Charles Peter Wagner (Aug. 15, 1930-Oct. 21, 2016) was a pioneer.
I remember the first time I met C. Peter Wager in 1984. I was getting ready to enroll in Fuller Seminary. I called his office to see if I could meet him and to my surprise, Peter and Doris Wagner invited me to a lunch meeting. I had no idea that this would begin a relationship that would span more than three decades. Peter always demonstrated his love for his spiritual sons and daughters by championing us in our calling.
He was also a missionary, missiologist, theologian, writer, teacher, church growth specialist and my apostle. His love for learning was central to who he was and his passion to write his own books for most of his life. He wrote more than 80, almost a book for every year he was alive. His books covered an immense range of topics: church growth, spiritual gifts, prayer, spiritual warfare, revival, reformation, workplace ministry, apostles, prophets, kingdom wealth, religious spirits, humility—even jokes. Peter had a passion to hear what the Spirit was saying to the churches (Rev. 2-3). He wanted to use his gifts as a writer and a teacher to communicate and equip the body of Christ with what God was saying and doing through the church around the world. Peter’s apostolic teachings pioneered key spiritual paradigm shifts for five decades, making room for major moves of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ. In his memoirs, he described four careers covering the different phases of his life:
The First Career: As a field missionary to Bolivia, he was consumed with the Great Commission when the missionary movement in South America was at its peak. He taught and led the people with a strong cross-cultural emphasis. In Latin America he discovered that the fastest-growing churches were Pentecostal. He began to embrace Pentecostal and charismatic orthodoxy and orthopraxy, which would eventually lead to the publication of his watershed book, Look Out, The Pentecostals Are Coming (1956-1971).
The Second Career: While professor at Fuller Seminary School of World Mission, Peter was a trailblazer in the church-growth movement, helping hundreds of new church plants and the emergence of megachurches. He co-chaired Lausanne I & II(1974 and 1989): The International Congress on World Evangelism Conference and the AD200 United Prayer Movement. His infamous course at MC510t course with John Wimber, advocated a new era of church empowerment and growth, which Peter coined as “power evangelism” and “the Third Wave,” fresh moves of the Holy Spirit. Impact from those moves is still felt around the world today. He embraced the Third Wave with vigor. He also discovered that he had a remarkable healing ministry (1971-2001).
The Third Career: As his theology matured, Peter focused on revival, reformation and transformation of society for fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Seeing what he described as the “New Apostolic Reformation,” he gave himself to the restoration of apostles, prophets and the five-fold ministry (Eph. 4:7-16). As president of Global Harvest Ministries, he launched Wagner Leadership Institute (now Wagner University), a seminary to equip those who were doing kingdom ministry but never had the opportunity to attend a formal seminary (1998-2010).
The Fourth Career: Peter’s apostolic ministry was undeniable. In the final chapter of his life, he continued to write books and articles and teach at conferences around the world. Peter didn’t want to just inform the saints; he had a passion to impart, activate, empower, equip and encourage; and he was very successful in living out those goals. He saw himself as a “horizontal apostle.” Much like James, who convened the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, Peter was able to gather top apostles to meet with him in various places from Lagos, Nigeria, to Sanya, China. I was with him when he gathered the apostles of the five largest underground apostolic networks on Hainan Island, China. Hecould convene leaders like no one else I knew. His books, teachings, wisdom, humility, generosity and keen sense of humor left an indelible mark on millions of lives. Including countless sons and daughters in the body of Christ who are thankful for his tremendous impact on them. Of all the leaders who had an impact on my life, undoubtedly Peter Wagner had the greatest impact (2010-2017).