Charismatic churches and Pentecostal Churches are becoming less charismatic and Pentecostal. Although I do not like the terms so much since they tend to pigeon hole people and churches and create stereotypical images in people’s minds; yet, these are the terms that have survived and are used.
By that I mean there is little opportunity for the gifts of the Spirit to operate in the body. There are several things that contribute to that I believe.
- Through the last two decades, there has been an emphasis put on being marketable to the world. We have turned the church into a business that is marketing itself to the world through tried and true business methods. “The customer is always right” has translated into making services entertaining and timed. Most churches of any size have great worship teams with many instruments, singers, videos, and powerful sound systems. The lights are dimmed, the stage lights come up, and the videos play and lights flash. It is entertaining, effective. Many can enter into praise and personal worship can be enhanced. But in the midst of that, there is no room for the Holy Spirit to do much other than anointing the individual worshipper.
- Time: We have very closed ended services. For mega churches running multiple services one hour is max. Sing, teach, and move on. For modern America, one hour is all they can take of God. There are so many other things that we have to get to in the afternoon. Current wisdom says that people can only listen for 20 minutes. (Now I know I have listened to people that 20 minutes was too long) But really, what if there is an anointing to teach longer. We have narrowed down the time God can have. Yet, in third world countries 20 minutes is an insult, a testimony. They come for the word. They will stay all day.
- No Waiting: The idea of waiting on the Lord makes people nervous. We have to every minute filled with sound, activity. For people to move in the gifts of the Spirit, it takes time, encouragement, stewarding. The uneasiness of silence grates the nerves of the impatient. There is a worry that God is not in the moment; yet, He often encourages us to be still and know that He is God. There is little room for the pall of holiness to grip us. Being open to the Spirit requires waiting.
- Little or No Teaching: The work of the 5 fold ministry is to train others. The New Testament concepts are of a body of believers equipped for ministry. It is not an audience prepared for a concert, but a body equipped for battle. It takes time to teach people how to move in the Spirit, how to hear the voice of God, and a place of safety to share. You know I want a move of God that is peaceful, full of unity, and no goofiness. The only way to avoid the silliness and excesses are to teach people how to do it right and be able to judge the incorrect when it appears. The emphasis has been on the goofs and judging the stupidity that is out there. We have created an atmosphere of fear so people will not venture into the realm of the Spirit. They have fear of being wrong, making a fool of themselves, and the consequences if they make a mistake. Learning to minister in the gifts was meant for all, not a few. Yet, our times of worship are more geared to shut those things out than to include them.
- Control: Often churches and their leaders are more worried about control and making sure things work the way they want them. True, we must shepherd the flock and protect them. Yet, the scripture indicates the flow of the Spirit and gifts operating in an orderly fashion. Orderly fashion is the operative term. This requires explaining, directing, shepherding the service in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to move, yet with a biblical order. The people of God need encouragement.
- Kooks Loose: Everyone is afraid of the weird prophet, the strange person, or as so often depicted in movies and TV, the deranged antichrist figure. Rather than shutting all the good people off and allowing a strange person to have an outburst sporadically, we need to encourage the good and train these good people. It is amazing when we allow God to move in good people who have been trained and encouraged that the weird ones move on or are silenced by the approved. It is a poor excuse to close off the Holy Spirit because you are afraid of kooks. It is something like hiding the one talent because you were afraid.
Sadly many churches with charismatic roots or Pentecostal roots barely look like their forefathers. We have a younger generation that has grown up in these churches and do not have the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, let alone move in the gifts. There is a generation that watched their parents, sat in these powerful meetings, and yet they do not have the power.
What is going to happen is many of these former charismatic churches and Pentecostal churches will die or wane to the place they are ineffective. And then God will raise up a whole new generation of people to serve Him who are hungry for His power and are not satisfied with a little entertainment. It will be a generation that is radical, hungry, and going for it. They will once again pay the price of discipleship and sacrifice to have the presence of God and His power.
I am looking for this kind!