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JOINING THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT

Advice on attending church services in the
Born Again/ Charismatic movement
.

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1.    INTRODUCTION

As far as I am concerned, members of the Born Again/ Charismatic movement on average seem to enjoy their services more than most other churchgoers. And for the newcomer, the disillusioned or those with an enquiring mind, it is a bit of a change from the somewhat restrained atmosphere of formal services, such as those normally held in traditional/ mainline Protestant or Catholic churches etc. People in the movement are also inspired in their church services by what they (as do I) believe to be tangible interaction with the Holy Spirit.

The article, Choosing a church, explains the differing types of churches in the movement available for choice, their backgrounds and approaches. The article, Gods presence in the Church” may also be of assistance in understanding what can occur in services, with regards to building belief in God.

If you have chosen to attend a fellowship of faith, in the tradition of the movement, then just turn up at the church a little ahead of the service time. I am pretty sure someone at the front door will assist you with settling in. It may depend whether you are already a baptised Christian, as to what you can share in there on the first visit to the fellowship. You can for example as a baptised Christian, in most churches, accept the bread and the wine’, that is also referred to as the body and blood of Jesus, when offered during the service. And if you are a baptised Christian, you can also open yourself to an anointing by the Spirit when and if that is offered by the fellowship leader during the service there.

If you are not a baptised Christian, then you can still join in the service during prayers and songs (hymns). When you are ready to commit to Jesus, and actually become a member of the Church (the Body of Christ), just discuss it with the fellowship leader.

Most of these churches, provide a warm and uplifting service. And most of the congregation there will be clearly committed to Jesus, and you will know that by their actions, particularly when singing songs. There should be some element of inviting the Holy Spirit into events during the service. But, it is generally low key.

2.    THE ATMOSPHERE

The atmosphere there in the service, does relate to the type of church (its denomination) you are attending. Pentecostal churches will be somewhat more out there for example. A mainline/ traditional Protestant or Catholic church, in the movement, will be more subdued. They may offer their designated Charismatic services in isolation from others. You may just need to identify the time and place when they do hold their actual Charismatic services, in contrast to more traditional gatherings they provide.

There is certainly a possibility of witnessing the manifestation of the Gifts from the Spirit, at these services. They may be offered by the service leader or other designated members of the fellowship. I am referring here to prophecies and other words of advice to attendees, healing miracles etc. Without doubt this has to be an inspiring and uplifting environment for attendees. Sounds crazy, you might think. Well ... I say again and again that I was an atheist once myself, yet I am convinced!

Most of these types of services, despite being more up tempo than most other Christian fellowships, are warm and welcoming. And events, such as those mentioned above, are normally far from being confronting.

But, if you do chance to attend a real ‘fired up’ service, particularly in a Pentecostal fellowship, where the Spirit really lets loose … well, just be prepared for it! The atmosphere can be electric; the air thick with it. Television does not do it justice at all, if you have seen it there. Some unexpecting newcomers might find it exciting, but others may find a service like that too ‘in your face’ and even scary to some extent. Indeed, I felt very unsettled on one such occasion in my early days of attending Pentecostal churches. The gifted preacher was from interstate and the regular congregation there in fellowship was indeed fired up and ready for what he and the Spirit provided on that day. However, in actual fact, you have nothing to fear there at all, as I explain later.

3.    HOW YOU CAN  PARTICIPATE

As I wrote earlier, if you are a baptised Christian before attending one of these fellowships, you might be offered an anointing (a holy touch) from the Holy Spirit during the service. Now if you agree and go forward to accept the offer then it is firstly normal for you to experience something special in that event. Secondly it is possible that the Spirit can also give you a gift in addition to the sensation of being touched, i.e. that you can use later to glorify him; to help build up the Church. Remember though you dont get to pick the gift, the Spirit does that. Again, please see the article Gifts of the Spirit to better understand what is on offer here. These gifts are the real deal, I kid you not!

The local church leader generally leads the events in these services. Remember though, that the Spirit will not force himself on anybody who is not ready and willing for him to actually fill them/ touch them. You will not be overcome and powerfully touched by the Spirit for example, unless you are absolutely ready and, most importantly, have fully opened yourself expectantly to him.

Yes, you have got to want it to happen to you. If you have gone there with that intent then you can even actually ask him, silently if you like, Come Holy Spirit. And even then, he will temper your experience in a way that suits just you. When and if you are ready at a later time for a more powerful touch from him, he may do so then. Remember, I am writing here about a God who is all loving. Through the person of the Spirit he is only lovingly demonstrating his presence; encouraging ever stronger faith to all those people in fellowship there.

Sometimes and I have both experienced this one for myself and heard of it from other so-called Born Again/ Charismatics   he may come upon you after you have left your place of Christian fellowship. In other words, he may give you the opportunity for an anointing or touch in a one-on-one setting. For some reason, you may not have opened yourself to him during fellowship when anointing was offered ... despite wanting to. This can be due to you having been too self conscious in front of others. Of course he would know that you had wanted to be touched and why you missed out. In such cases, he will start gently in that private setting and build the anointing upwards in a fashion that he knows you are ready for; that you may actually long for. What I am highlighting, first and foremost, is that it will be an opportunity for you again, rather than being forced upon you.

There are so many alternative possibilities he uses to ease us in to that Born Again/ Charismatic relationship (when that is what we want) and then subsequently assist us along that particular path.

It all just falls together so perfectly in the long run, so do not be concerned at all.

4.    SOME FINAL ADVICE

A newcomer does need to appreciate where those Christians in the movement are coming from’. However, I find it odd myself, but some congregations in the movement, particularly in Pentecostal churches, seem compelled to speak loudly in tongueswith very little provocation. (Tongues is explained in the previous article.) And this noisy practise can really be off-putting for newcomers. So please bear with that one if it happens. There is a Biblical warning from St Paul to a fellowship of faith in his time, on this very issue, in 1 Corinthians 14. So the bad habit has been around for a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time. Like 2,000 years!

Also be alert for contrived behaviour in that area of the greater Church. Most everyone enjoys being a part of the crowd, and as a result the occasional example of participants faking that they are under the influence of the Spirit may become obvious.

From my own experience though, the vast majority of congregations out there in the movement are indeed genuine. And you can definitely observe and indeed experience the Spirits presence there, during those services, in such a tangible manner. All out of his genuine love for you, I must add!

Continue to the next article, The subtle stuff in any church.