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JOINING THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT

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

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As far as I am concerned, members of the Born Again/ Charismatic movement on average seem to enjoy their services more than 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 or Catholic churches etc. People in the movement are 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 partake there on the first visit to the church. You can, for example as a baptised Christian, in most churches, accept the bread and the wine 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.

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 (hymns). There should be some element of inviting the Holy Spirit into events during the service. But, it is generally low key.

There is certainly a possibility of witnessing the manifestation of the Gifts from the Spirit, offered through the church leader or other members of the fellowship: 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!

But, if you do chance to attend a real ‘fired up’ service, particularly in a Pentecostal fellowship, where the Spirit really lets loose … well, be prepared for it! The atmosphere is 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.

As I wrote earlier, if you were a baptised Christian before joining one of these fellowships, you might be offered an anointing (a holy touch) from the Holy Spirit during the service. The local church leader generally leads the events. 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 may 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. 

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 have not opened yourself to him during fellowship where anointing was offered ... despite wanting to, e.g. due to you being 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 to assist us along that particular path.

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

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, throughout the world, are indeed genuine.

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