Mission and the Holy Spirit

The Pentecostal Church is to be a church of power. But, to quote the poet, Bono, too often it is a church “stuck in a moment we can’t get out of.”

OK. Right now, I am being dismissed by a protectionist somewhere who is more hung up on protecting a sacred cow than on reading the rest of my comments with an open mind. For those of you that are still with me, let’s move forward as I tell you what’s on my heart in the form of bullet points. Then I’ll welcome your feedback (as long as you think about what you are writing).

OBSERVATIONS OF A CONTINUATIONIST UPON HIS PENTECOSTAL ENVIRONMENT

  • We are bent on replicating an experience to the detriment of receiving the empowerment.
  • We settle for initial evidence and ignore the substantial evidence.
  • We desire “the gift” but as soon as we “get it”, we place it on a shelf or bury it in the ground like a lazy, poor steward whose Master is away on business.
  • Too often, the initial evidence is a culturally learned outward sign and not an empowerment of the believer to tell people about Jesus everywhere (Acts 1:6-8).
  • I’ve often wondered what would happen if you taught someone the Scriptures, they never heard anyone else speak in tongues, and that person was Spirit Baptized. What would that experience look like?
  • We will never win our cities for Jesus with slick programs, messages, marketing packages, great choirs, music, and cutting edge trappings.
  • We must possess the empowerment of the Holy Spirit if we are to see real change in our communities.
  • With about half of our churches under 50 in attendance and massive amounts of corporate receipts going to mission optional activities, our behavior and results are incongruent with that of a Spirit-empowered organization.

THE WAY FORWARD

  • We focus on mission.
  • Jesus will equip us for the mission with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
  • We receive that promise separate from the scare mongering and statistical fascinations on the percentage of tongue talkers who need to be present in a local church for it to be considered “Pentecostal.”
  • We hold up the substantial evidence as a more accurate indicator of Spirit Baptism than the initial evidence. A soul winner is empowered by the Holy Spirit in a more real and measurable way than a person that is closed off from the world but who may rattle off the same three phrases of unintelligible syllables occasionally in a church service.
  • We realign our resources in accordance with the heart of Jesus.
  • Resources wasted on mission optional items betrays the heart and passion of the Holy Spirit and are incongruent with the call of Jesus for the Spirit Empowered follower of Jesus.

I could go on. But, I’ll stop and open myself to comments. As far as I know, 100% of my comments speak in the affirmative of our Declaration of Faith and are well within the parameters of the COG. I’ve never been accused of always being right. So, help me talk this out.

Advertisements

20 Responses

  1. In the words of Tevya, from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tradition! Tradition! Many in the COG are probably lamenting, singing this song as they see our generation, that they raised and loved, not embrace the traditions of our fathers in the same way they do.

    The thing is, for at least Travis and I, we have not left the core beliefs of the COG or the Declaration of Faith. We do believe in rethinking how we do EVERYTHING with our chief purpose being to fulfill the mission of Christ! This makes people like us appear dangerous. I hope to do this in love.

    I do pray that elders of the COG will embrace the young men and women that God is raising up to reach the next generation (not just the ones who look like them). I encourage our leaders to intentionally seek to move forward with them and not try to get the younger generation to move forward with your agenda. Many young COG ministers of my generation have already left the COG because of the things that Travis has listed above. Respectfully, we do not want to waste our time on a self-promoting agenda and listen to 4+ hours of how great the Church of God is. Many see it as easier to reach the world for Christ without all of the trappings that come with being a Bishop in the COG.

    Last January, I had lunch with just such a person. As he expressed to me his struggle with how irrelevant the COG is and how we are oblivious to the fact that we are not engaging the culture. He stated that he could not see himself continuing with the COG. My thoughts to him were that God may be keeping him in the COG to be a prophetic voice, to help the COG get back on track. If your response is: “let him go”… “If he doesn’t like the COG he can leave it.” Please check your heart. Let’s turn things around and see who can be the most compassionate and loving, intentionally living by John 13:34 & 35!

    To the protectionists reading this: Most of the young COG ministers (that I know) who are calling for change love the COG deeply. We look back with sadness and see how the COG missed the Charismatic movement, and actually condemned it. Let’s not repeat history and miss what God is doing now so we can hold on to our traditions. My prayer is that the young and older generations will move forward with the Holy Spirit!

  2. Travis and Matt,

    I am 50 years old and a newcomer to the COG (taking the Ordained Bishop test next month). However, I am increasingly becoming an “old-timer” to the Pentecostal Movement. I spent 25 years in the Assemblies of God and pastored four churches in two states. I have never been a traditionalist but I have always been committed to the core teachings and experiences that make Pentecostalism pentecostal.

    I’m primarily a listener, observer, thinker, and eventually after much processing, a teacher/preacher. Having grown up Pentecostal, I’ve heard all the accusations that cessationists and the spiritually non-interested throw at Pentecostals. Some of it is true, in specific individual persons, but most of it I’ve never actually seen in practice.

    Non-pentecostals have historically accused us of “putting too much emphasis on tongues”, but my experience has been that from their perspective ANY emphasis on tongues is too much emphasis. And from my side of the bleachers, it wasn’t so much an emphasis on tongues as it was in being filled with the Spirit (they claimed they already were and didn’t need anything more), but even when we emphasized the part about being filled, the only thing they saw and waved their guns at was tongues. Regardless of what our true emphasis was or not.

    The error I believe we made in the past was in thinking that when we received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit we were receiving an “experience”, when in reality we were supposed to be receiving a Person. That makes all the difference in the world. Then its not a matter of evidence so much as its a matter of Presence, the Presence of the Holy Spirit, I mean.

    I have often preached that the reason Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit was to give us power “to be” something, not just power to “do” something. It’s power “to be a witness”, not just power to do “witnessing”. The problem with receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as an experience rather than as a Person is that we end up not becoming anything different, but just having an experience that we can talk about.

    I think the idea Travis mentioned about people being closed off in their own little corner speaking in tongues and interpreting to one another while the world goes to hell, is partly caused by how we have historically understood holiness. Since holiness means to be set apart, we have inadvertently, or deliberately, cut ourselves off from the people who need us most. Its as if we don’t believe what Jesus said, “nothing outside a man can make him unclean”. Instead, we think we can be made unclean just by physically being in a certain place.

    To Matt:

    The COG didn’t miss the Charismatic movement. The first generation of charismatics were not come-outers. The thing that made them charismatics was the fact that they were told to stay in their historical churches after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and to try to renew them from within.

    I went to ORU from 1975-1978 during the peak of the Charismatic Movement. What I observed as a weakness of that movement was a lack of a holiness foundation to keep the movement on track spiritually and theologically. The Charismatic movement rejected the Classical Pentecostals just as much, if not more so, than the Classical Pentecostals rejected the Charismatic Movement.

    One of my privileges of being at ORU during that time period was getting to hear Father Dennis Bennett teach one of our Holy Spirit classes in the fall semester of 1975. A few years later I read a letter to the editor in Charisma magazine from Fr. Bennett lamenting the second and third generation Charismatics drifting away from the roots and foundation of the movement to something less.

    There is much to be discussed here. I am glad I’ve found this site and perhaps we can have some fruitful discussions.

  3. I like the article Travis, but the best part has got to be quoting Bono. Not only that, but you called him a poet rather than a lyricist. He’s not exactly Edgar Allen Poe.

  4. Randy,
    The two main reasons why I believe the COG missed the charismatic movement are:

    # 1. While attending the COG Theological Seminary in the late 90’s it was stated by a professor in one of my classes that during the Charismatic movement Ray Hughes Sr., who was the General Overseer at the time, made a public statement denouncing the charismatic movement. After WW2 our society sent women who were the workforce back home and the Church of God followed suit and continued to relegate women to “women’s ministry” and intensified it’s emphasis on legalistic outward regulations (no pants for women, no movies, no mixed bathing, etc.) The Charismatic movement was just another thing we were against. If that is true and we as a denomination did miss the charismatic movement… missed what God was doing at the time. Sorry, I do not remember which professor stated that and I know it is second hand information since I was not even thought of at the time it occurred.

    #2. My experience in the licensure process:
    In 1994, while attending Lee I was set forth by the church I was attending to get my exhorters license. After easily passing the written test I went into the oral interview. I was asked if I believed that tongues as initial evidence of the Baptism of the HS and I said yes. Then they asked me if I thought it was possible for God to baptize someone in the HS without that person initially speaking in tongues. I replied “sure God could do that.” Then they said that they could not license me, that they were trying to stop the influence of Charismatics into the Church of God and this was how they were going to do it. (The board consisted of two prominent pastors from Chattanooga and one Lee professor) I left shocked and wondering what happened.

    Later that night my pastor called me and I told him what happened. He said in his 20+ years of ministry he had never heard of that happening and he would call me back. So… my pastor convinced me to go before the next examining board a few months later. I told them the same thing and that I did believe that tongues was initial evidence of the HS and they said they did not believe me. One of the pastors said what I believed was like believing that God could save someone with out them repenting. So I was failed again!

    Then a few weeks later I was called by the Tennessee State Overseer to come and see him. When I met with him he asked me “do you believe that tongues is initial evidence of the Baptism of the HS” and I said yes. He said that’s good enough for me and he passed me. Today I am an Ordained Bishop with the same perspective on initial evidence.

    While I lived in Cleveland there was a controversy between Lee and Seminary concerning which school was really providing ministers a “Pentecostal education”. Which today I am sorry I was a part of and if anyone I offended at the time is reading this I sincerely apologize. I could go on… I have many experience from when I lived in the “Holy City” of Cleveland that have given me this perspective and many of those perspectives have been re-enforced after living and ministering in three other states post-Cleveland.

  5. Matt,

    Being a newcomer to the COG, I defer to your experience with them. I can see the reasons why your ordination interviewers saw inconsistency to your position on initial evidence. The problem, I believe, is that we confuse the initial evidence with Spirit baptism itself. Tongues follow the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, they do not precede it. The whole point of tongues or any other manifestation of the Spirit is and opening and uncovering the fact that the Holy Spirit is HERE, RIGHT NOW! It is an outward sign that we have gone beyond ourselves, beyond the limitations of the natural man and mind, and into the realm of the supernatural presence of the power of God.

    I must say after rereading this blog I am in total agreement with what Travis had to say and your response, but I am also concerned that we remain sensitive to the need to remain true to what our well-balanced Pentecostal predecessors discovered in practice concerning Spirit baptism and the role of tongues as a manifestation of the Spirit.

    Travis said:

    “We focus on mission.”

    Granted. But isn’t part of that mission insuring that we teach people to do what Apostle Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?” Another way of saying it, “Isn’t Spirit baptism an integral part of mission?” In other words, “just getting them saved,” isn’t good enough. One of the things that has drawn me to move into the COG after 4.5 years at the Caring Center is their preservation of an emphasis on sanctification, holiness, and Spirit baptism.

    The man who married my wife and I was a former acting president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He also was a well known camp and conference speaker. During one of our campmeetings he spoke to us pastors and told us that the doctrine of initial evidence was our “jugular” as a movement, without it we (the A/G) had no distinction as a movement. That may have been a far reaching statement, but I got his point. If Spirit baptism and the “initial evidence” are not integral to mission then why exist as a “Pentecostal church” at all? I’m not saying Travis said that they aren’t missional, but I believe we need to learn a lesson from our forebearers. Spirit baptism (with tongues) has always been opposed by nominal Christianity, however evangelical it claims to be. We cannot afford to sacrifice spiritual truth in order to be “culturally relevant”. I’m short on time, I want to comment on some of Travis’ other statements, but it will have to wait.

  6. Randy,

    In everything you read, understand that I am not seeking to de-emphasize tongues or de-Pentecostalize the COG. Rather, I’d like for us to re-emphasize the mission of Jesus for which the Holy Spirit was given.

    Somehow, I feel like we have forgotten the mission of Jesus and have engaged one another skeptically like fruit inspectors/quality control agents (see Matt’s story). We have stooped to maligning one another from our General Assembly and Camp Meeting podiums thumping our chests with great spiritual pride because of how Pentecostal we are.

    Meanwhile, our churches are in decline, we are closing more congregations than we are opening. There is an exodus of ministers from the COG and a disappearing demographic of under 35 year old ministers. We fail to baptize those we convert. We have largely failed to spend our money on mission critical budget items.

    But, we say we speak in tongues.

    I say much of the tongues we speak are culturally learned and not birthed out of an empowerment by the Holy Spirit. If we were truly Spirit Baptized, we wouldn’t be wasting mission critical resources on organizational junk. The number of churches we have would be growing and not shrinking.

    So, my focus on the substantial evidence is not a statement against initial evidence. It is a statement against our spiritual pride that says. “We have it” while we fail to demonstrate substantially that we in deed do “have it.”

  7. Randy,
    I am firmly committed to the doctrines of the COG. If I wasn’t I would seek ordination in a denomination I agreed with.

    Looking back at the experience I had with the interview board I see two different world views clashing. Those men are products of Modernity and I am a part of a Post-modern generation. What they may have seen as an inconsistency in how I would work out a hypothetical situation referring to Baptism in the Holy Spirit I see as an acceptable tension.

    I do agree with you that Spirit Baptism is an integral part of mission. What the person who married you and your wife said is a classic protectionist statement. I am not concerned with protecting the Pentecostal movement. If Pentecostalism is true and authentic, I believe it is, then it will be displayed in the fruit of our lives and ministries.

    Jesus did not even mention tongues when he instructed the disciples in Acts 1. Jesus promised them that they would be endued with power to be His witness. The result was that they were not seeking “evidence” and they were Baptized in the Holy Spirit. At Cornelius’ house Peter preached the gospel, did not mention Baptism in the Holy Spirit and “all who heard he message” were Baptized in the Holy Spirit. As we engage the scriptures and examine how and what Jesus and the disciples preached will we let it inform our preaching?

    The “evidence”… and every other manifestation of God’s presence and power is God’s area of responsibility. When we get out of our lane it produces a carnal, phony, self-centered, event or show driven Pentecostalism. Translation — God will let us fake it. That is what many in my generation are reacting against. Let’s trust God to take care of the results.

  8. I preach to the congregation at the Caring Center that the greatest privilege we have as New Covenant believers is the ability to be personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit and to be led by Him in our daily lives.

    I encourage the people to pray for God to give them divine appointments with people whom God knows they will be able to minister to for the sake of the kingdom. I encourage them to learn how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and how to discern His voice from all the other voices they hear that try to influence them.

    I teach them that tongues are a doorway, not a destination. The purpose of the manifestations of the Spirit in the church meeting is to prepare us to recognize the prompting of the Holy Spirit in the marketplace, and give us the faith to respond to the Spirit and minister to people in word and deed.

    God didn’t give us the Holy Spirit to create a movement or a denomination. He gave us the Spirit to equip us to plant, water, and harvest in the lives of people the Father is drawing to Jesus.

  9. Here’s a hypothetical: A person is “Spirit Baptized with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.” For 10 years, this person speaks in tongues in church services and in personal prayer. And, in 10 years, this person is never used by the Holy Spirit to lead another human to Jesus.

    Which is more a more convincing indicator that this person is or is not Spirit Baptized?

    A. the fact that he has been speaking in tongues for 10 years (initial evidence)

    OR

    B. the fact this person has never been used by the Holy Spirit to lead another human to Jesus (an absence of the substantial evidence).

  10. Travis makes an excellent point here. As we examine Acts 1 Jesus defines Baptism in the Holy Spirit fir us.

    Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ”

    Power to be Christ’s witness! The Greek word here for witness is the same word used in the New Testament for martyr. The Holy Spirit gives us power to die to self and continue Christ’s mission. Clearly from scripture we see that Spirit Baptism is about God enabling us to be witnesses to a lost world for Christ.

  11. Thanks for this post and discussion!

    And it is good to hear from Matt, a bro I met by bumping into him once in Cleveland (literally– at the stop light on 20th and Ocoee). 🙂

    Here are the points that impact me the most:

    * We will never win our cities for Jesus with slick programs, messages, marketing packages, great choirs, music, and cutting edge trappings.

    * We must possess the empowerment of the Holy Spirit if we are to see real change in our communities.

    * We realign our resources in accordance with the heart of Jesus.

    * Resources wasted on mission optional items betrays the heart and passion of the Holy Spirit and are incongruent with the call of Jesus for the Spirit Empowered follower of Jesus.

    LOUIS: One of the things that troubles me the most is that I feel we are losing a sense of authenticity. I’m exhausted from watching preachers work up emotions that leave individuals unchanged when it comes to actually being the hands and feet of Christ outside of the church walls. My greatest personal struggles in the COG at the moment are a desire for authenticity among ministers and concern that finances are not being used appropriately.

    *With about half of our churches under 50 in attendance and massive amounts of corporate receipts going to mission optional activities, our behavior and results are incongruent with that of a Spirit-empowered organization.

    LOUIS: I understand what is meant concerning smaller congregations, but I do believe it is possible for congregations to be small and still effective. I am less concerned with the number in the congregation as I am that those in the congregation are being discipled properly and then activated as discples who minister in their local community. Some congregations are not focused on their own growth as they. However, I suspect that most of our churches are not operating . I’m afraid that too many of our churches have an idea of self-service.

    I don’t mean to be critical. In fact, it is my love for the COG that is keeping me here right now. I actually have more ministry opportunities outside of the denomination at the moment, and I don’t foresee that changing in the near future. Yet, my heritage and love for the COG compels me to keep pressing on despite my limited opportunities within the movement. (However, I am also intentional about using my heritage as the foundation from which I allow God to build and mold me into the servant He desires me to be. I do not want to get stuck in a mentality that is ineffective and hindering to Christ’s mission for me and His Church.)

    I will leave the discussion of initial evidence to you all, but I am concerned with the need for authenticity and fiscal accountability within our church– internationally and locally.

    Peace and all good!

  12. Oops! I have an incomplete sentence in my above post. I meant to write:

    Some congregations are not as focused on their own growth as they are meeting specific needs within a given community (such as ministering to homeless, caring for elderly in nursing homes, etc). I think some churches are called to minister to a specific need, while others are able to focus on a variety of ministries. And, I think each group has a valid place in Kingdom work.

  13. Louis,

    I don’t have a problem with churches under 50. I do have a problem with a system that restricts growth beyond that point. Certainly, it is not always the fault of our system. But, statistically compared to other similar denominations/fellowships, there are systemic issues that create a sort of a welfare state/dependency on “the system” that should not be there. Thus, the ability of a local church to reach its greatest redemptive potential in its community and around the world is inhibited.

    To the churches under 50 that are productive, developmentally nurturing, and mission-centered, keep up the good work!

  14. Travis,
    Completely understood, and completely agree with your statements on church size. I just wanted to make sure we weren’t forgetting the effectiveness of small churches that are doing things right.

    And for the other churches (small or large) that are not developing mission-minded members, I guess the question remains: What needs to be done to help local members realize their role in living out Christ’s mission? (And I believe this requires a major change in what we consider ministry and in our liberation of laity to minister in ways typically reserved for clergy in the past. These are lessons that should have been learned from the actions that took place in the Protestant Reformation, Great Awakening period, etc. when laity played a vital role in promoting the Gospel and being the “hands and feet” of Jesus to others.)

  15. Travis wrote:
    “We focus on mission.”

    What is the mission? Could it be divided into two main parts – evangelism and discipleship?

    Evangelism being to announce the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Disicipleship being to teach new believers to obey everything Jesus commanded us.

    Where and when is the mission performed? Perhaps we are trying to do too much at once in just three to five hours a week?

    Travis wrote:
    “Jesus will equip us for the mission with the promise of the Holy Spirit. ”

    Jesus did say “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Perhaps the problem is that we have failed to teach enough about the Holy Spirit to our people. I’m not talking about teaching them about the “gifts” (I prefer the term manifestations) of the Spirit. I’m talking about teaching them how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and to distinguish His voice from their own human spirit or other spirits.

    Most “laypeople” I know have uncertainty and lack of faith in whether or not the Holy Spirit is speaking to them or leading them. They need us as leaders to teach them how to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit and how to exercise faith to do the works prompted by the Holy Spirit.

    Travis wrote:
    “We receive that promise separate from the scare mongering and statistical fascinations on the percentage of tongue talkers who need to be present in a local church for it to be considered “Pentecostal.””

    If I hear what you are saying in this point, it doesn’t matter if someone has spoken in tongues or not, as long as they acknowledge the Holy Spirit and believe they have received the Holy Spirit? Please correct me if I am misreading you here.

    Travis wrote:
    “We hold up the substantial evidence as a more accurate indicator of Spirit Baptism than the initial evidence.”

    Laying tongues aside for the moment, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is either an experience separate from and subsequent to the new birth (and sanctification) or not. If it is separate and subsequent, then there is a moment in time when you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit (but you are born again) and there is a moment when you are “being” baptized in the Holy Spirit, and after that you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

    Tongues, as the “initial evidence”, is concerned with that time immediately after you “have been” baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is not an evidence of a continuing life in the Spirit, that is, being led by the Spirit. Rather it is confined as an evidence to a specific point in time, the time immediately following the reception of the gift of the Spirit.

    After you have been initially baptized in the Holy Spirit, tongues is no longer an evidence of Spirit baptism. Instead, tongues serve as a form of spiritual communication between the human spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the Father and the Son. Tongues bypass the limitations of the human mind (it’s prejudices and carnalities) and communicate purely and perfectly in prayer and praise to God.

    The “substantial evidence” you are referring to is more evidence of life in the Spirit (or being led by the Spirit) rather than being “baptized” in the Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a specific spiritual event; being led by the Spirit is a lifelong process. It is in this process that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be Jesus’ witnesses.

    Travis wrote:
    “A soul winner is empowered by the Holy Spirit in a more real and measurable way than a person that is closed off from the world but who may rattle off the same three phrases of unintelligible syllables occasionally in a church service.”

    This points to inadequate discipleship and lack of understanding of the purpose of the Holy Spirit by the people in our pews. It also points to a difference in theological understanding between the Classical Pentecostal view of tongues and the Charismatic view.

    Classical Pentecostals have always viewed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit as something the “comes on them” over which they have no control. The Charismatic view (first generation) is that the Holy Spirit continues to abide after Spirit baptism and the manifestations (especially tongues as a “prayer language”) are always available to the Spirit-baptized believer.

    Tongues are a communication tool for personal edification of the individual believer and corporate intercession when the body is gathered together. This falls under the category of discipleship and fellowship rather than evangelism. It is no less empowered than soulwinning, it simply serves a different purpose.

    Soulwinning is the result of being led by the Holy Spirit in daily life and obedient to his promptings. Soulwinning is not limited to harvesting people for the kingdom, it also includes the planting of the gospel seed and watering it in people’s lives. We may not be a harvester in every person’s life, but if we are led by the Spirit we will certainly always be a planter, waterer or harvester – any or all of these three.

    Soulwinners are not more empowered than “tongue talkers” (I trust this is not meant as a derisive term 🙂 ), they are simply empowered by the Holy Spirit for a different purpose in a different place and time.

    Travis wrote:
    “We realign our resources in accordance with the heart of Jesus.”

    There is a economic impact to the gospel that hasn’t been adequately addressed in previous generations. We have left economics and social justice to the secular world and “liberal denominations” because of our preoccupation with eschatology and “other-worldliness” spirituality.

    There is also a lack of community in the Body that is reflective of the increasing isolation and self-referential independence prominent in our society as a whole. Many churches come together on Sunday as unrelated groups of strangers instead of a closeknit, loving community. Jesus’ model for us was that the world would see us as the Body of Christ exhibiting such love for one another that they would be prompted to ask us for the reason for our hope.

    Travis wrote:
    “Resources wasted on mission optional items betrays the heart and passion of the Holy Spirit and are incongruent with the call of Jesus for the Spirit Empowered follower of Jesus.”

    Could you enumerate some of these items?

  16. My second son visited a mega-church while he was working on a project at Quantico this month. He was impressed by the church but he also noted that it was easy to get “lost in the crowd” and become a spectator rather than a participator.

    I think this problem is just as true in a small church as in a larger one. At the Caring Center we run between 60-75 on an average Sunday. Many of our people come from the Lighthouse Mission and we have to sign a form for them because they have a mandatory church attendance policy to stay there. These guys sit like bumps on a log for the most part, and it is very frustrating for our worship team to look out and see blank stares. I just encourage them to be faithful in worshiping the Lord themselves.

  17. Randy,

    I missed these last comments somehow. That is a lot to respond to. Quickly, I’ll take on the Mission of Jesus. I’ll come back to the rest later.

    MISSION

    Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

    The mission is to make disciples of all nations teaching people to follow Jesus until the end. We can complicate it with terms and silos of thoughts and actions. But, it boils down to us being empowered to do the words of Jesus in this passage.

    So, my personal conclusion is that if we claim to have experienced Spirit Baptism because tongues are expressed, yet there is no substance to that claim…no substantial evidence, no Matthew 28:19-20 action, then, I’d say it is not a Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a pseudo-experience or a culturally learned behavior.

    If the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do the Great Commission has not accompanied the tongues, it is not legitimate. Frankly, I believe that much of our problem is that we have had a faux encounter or at best a poor understanding of the most basic words of Jesus. We’ve traded in our call to be a church of power for a consumeristic life in a church of self satisfying hype.

  18. I think part of the reason we are in this situation (lots of people who speak in tongues who seem not to be empowered to be witnesses) is the emphasis on numbers and counting people who have an experience with God.

    Please fill in your numbers monthly
    ___Saved
    ___Sanctified
    ___Baptized in the Holy Spirit
    ___Baptized in Water

    Even if we stop emphasizing “tongues proves we are Baptized in the HS” and shift to “soul winning proves we are Baptized in the HS” we will still have the same problem. We will be replacing one self satisfying hype for another.

    What needs to be addressed is our consumer/results driven approach to ministry. Travis called it “the consumeristic life” that we have traded for our calling to be a church of power. What can we do to reclaim this calling?

  19. Fair enough.

    But, putting the report book in triplicate aside, the Holy Spirit came to empower us. If our understanding of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is simply an ecstatic moment in an altar, we have missed the sheer force of the Holy Spirit radically interrupting our lives and reaching our friends, neighbors, and peoples from around the world.

    The statistics are a bit annoying. Honestly, the only category I can accurately report is the number of people baptized in water. The rest is a crap shoot.

  20. I agree that we have lost the purpose Jesus intended for Holy Spirit Baptism and it needs to be reclaimed. My point is that if we continue with the same mindset (consumerism, fear) that caused this problem, history will repeat itself.

    A temptation for every Pentecostal minister is to try and make something happen. Once the objective was complete, the person spoke in tongues, the goal was achieved and the form was filled out.

    Whether it be a decision for Christ, interpreting the message in tongues before someone in the body has a chance, teaching a person to speak in tongues or knocking a person down when you are praying for them in the alter. The question is, do we really believe that God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit is enough (faith)? When a pastor takes control in this way he or she leaves no room for a genuine move of the Spirit.

    This is what has pushed the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to the side. And it is the mindset of the world. Control motivated by a fear of looking like a fool or feeling like a failure if God doesn’t do something or the person doesn’t receive.

    Why is the least likely person to attend church in America today a young man age 18-25? Many have grown up in our churches, spoke in tongues and found out when they left the nest a manufactured move of God will not sustain you. They are turned off by the phony, repelled by arrogance and in despair because they believe that they are not loved. (See the book “Unchristian” by David Kinnaman)http://www.unchristian.com/

    Yes, we have missed the point every Christian is a missionary and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit empowers and motivates us to embody the mission of Christ. But we must address the root not just problem on the surface.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: