As I wrote yesterday, I have a pretty long history in the charismatic expression of Christianity. I truly treasure my past because I wouldn’t have come to Christ apart from seeing and experiencing the power of God in the present. I truly believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is critical to seeing apostolic Christianity restored to the Earth.
So it was curious for me several years ago when I was reading Alan Hirsch’s book “The Forgotten Ways” that he mentioned a missing ingredient of the missional church was the Pentecostal experience:
What is still largely missing from this emergent phenomenon is any sustained and explicit Pentecostal presence, with all its passion and fire. While it’s true that Pentecostalism taught us the true value of apostolic ministry, the Pentecostals have not been a noteworthy expression of [emergent missional church], as far as I am aware. This is probably because Pentecostalism is still basking in the relative success that church growth praxis brought them.
Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways (Page 270)
I would say that Hirsch’s experience of a lack of Pentecostals or charismatic experience in the emergent missional church mirrors my experience with house churches largely outside of our network. And while I may be off on this, my perception is that very few house churches are started with those from charismatic backgrounds.
This is sad to me because charismatics should feel the most at home in house churches. House churches exist to allow every member of the body of Christ to participate in the gathering. The meetings are small to intentionally facilitate interaction, especially the sharing of gifts. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:26 “When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” The kind of organic church Paul describes here allows for the power of the Holy Spirit to move among different members of the body.
Pentecostals and Charismatics should believe in the democratization of the Holy Spirit. That’s a big five dollar word that describes that idea that the Holy Spirit gives Himself to each and every believer. Because every believer gets a measure of Christ’s gifting through the power of the Spirit, every believer should be participating in a meeting of believers with the Holy Spirit leading like the director of an orchestra. The democratization of the Holy Spirit means every believer can participate in the work of God.
Peter best articulates this for us in his famous message to the Jews in Jerusalem after Pentecost:
No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
What Peter is saying in this message is that a day that the prophet Joel had predicted has come to pass: God is pouring out His Spirit on everyone. Prior to this, God had poured out His Spirit on special anointed individuals, mainly kings and prophets. The Holy Spirit’s activity was unique and happened only among select people. But now, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, everyone could have access to this elusive Holy Spirit. Men and women, young and old, even the servants–all would be able to move in the gifting of God.
These are the verses that launched the Pentecostal movement in the early 20th century. A desire to be filled with the Spirit and experience God personally marked places like the Azusa Street revival. But over the last 100 years, the movement has grown increasingly comfortable with letting ‘anointed’ men and women do the hard work. It’s not uncommon for attenders in charismatic congregations to have never experienced the Holy Spirit in any way outside of the pastor or preacher’s ministry.
All of this, then, is a giant appeal from me to those who believe in the gifts of the Spirit to put into practice the democracy of the Spirit. Do you believe God gives gifts to His church? Good! Then gather believers together in their homes and have meetings like they were described in 1 Corinthians 14. Let members of the church practice sharing their gifts from the Holy Spirit with each other. Don’t be content with someone else exercising their one gift for the entire body. Keep pressing into the Spirit until every member of the body of Christ is participating in a meeting of believers with the gifts God has given them.
The result will be the strengthening of the church.
We just finished celebrating the 1st birthday of my son, Joel. We did all the typical stuff…the party with presents, the much anticipated “first birthday cake smushing,” family came over, we sang…everything you would typically expect for a one year old. And we had a great time.
All of this, however, has got me thinking about Joel and what he means to Christy and I and to the larger body of Christ. We gave our son the name Joel because the Lord had spoken to us about a move of the Spirit that would come at the end of the age. The birth of Joel was going to be a sign for us about an outpouring of the Spirit described in Joel 2:28-32:
“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:28-32)”
I’ve written about this before, but I want to stick this thesis the door of my blog for the whole world to see: There is coming a move of the Spirit that will trump anything we have seen before. I’m not saying that just because the Lord told us to name our son Joel. I’m saying that because God declares in His word that He will pour out His Spirit in the last hour of human history. It will happen. It is as sure and as fixed in Scripture as the coming of the Anti-Christ and and the second coming of Jesus.
Beloved do not forget the coming outpouring of the Spirit! It’s not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy. God wasn’t just trying to motivate us with a promise that He never intended to fulfill. Weariness and dryness tend to shrink our faith. It’s hard to believe for an outpouring of the Spirit when you look around and see an Earth suffering from a shortage of God breaking through! But remember that just because we have not seen the outpouring does not mean it does not exist. When Noah built an ark no one had ever seen a flood, but that did not make him foolish for preparing.
So tonight, while I’m celebrating the life of my son, I want to call us all contend for the breakthrough of the Spirit of God wherever we are. There will be a day when we all cry out “come” together and a tidal wave of presence of God floods the Earth like never before. Our job is to continue to call out “come” until the crescendo in Heaven builds and God cannot hold Himself back any longer. The result will be signs in the sky, miracles on the Earth, and a flood of souls coming into the Kingdom like never before. May the Lord help us to be found faithful and waiting in that day.
I’ve been busy for the last few days so I haven’t been able to write as much as I would like. However I did want to catch you all up on an event that we’re going to be attending in the Kansas City, Missouri area this weekend. House of Friends, the missions organization I run with, is hosting a night of ministry with Russ and Kim Kline. Russ and Kim are a prophetic couple that have heavily influenced my friend John Gross in the things of the Spirit, who is no slouch in that department himself. All of that to say it should be a good event in and of itself.
On top of that, I just found out that my wife will actually be leading worship for the event. I have to say I’m very excited about this. I’m not going to gush and say that Christy should have some national platform leading worship or anything, but I do believe that because we meet in a house church and she normally leads worship for 10 people, she doesn’t get the credit for being the really stellar worship leader that she is. In fact, there are many times I would prefer my wife leading worship over some of the people who lead worship for hundreds of others on a regular basis. (Ahhh…the secret place…isn’t it wonderful?)
Anyways, pray for her that this goes well. Pray that God would give House of Friends direction as we gather, report, and strategize. And if you’re in the Kansas City or Concordia area, check out this event. More information is on the flier below.