JOINING THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT
Advice on attending church services in the
Born Again/ Charismatic movement.
far as I am concerned, members of the Born Again/ Charismatic
on average seem to enjoy their services more than most other churchgoers. And for
those with an enquiring mind, it is a bit of a change from the somewhat
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, “God’s presence in the Church” may also be of assistance in understanding what can occur in services, with regards to building belief in God.
you have chosen to attend a fellowship of faith, in the tradition of
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.
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.
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
environment for attendees. Sounds crazy, you might think. Well ... I
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
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
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
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
don’t 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
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
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.
just falls together so perfectly in the long run, so do not be
concerned at all.
4. SOME FINAL ADVICE
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 ‘tongues’ with 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
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
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 Spirit’s 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”.