CharisMissional

empowered by the spirit for mission

10 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

I don’t think it is too far fetched to think that there might be 10 gifts of the Holy Spirit or even more. Paul refers to the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 as manifestations of the Spirit. Could there be other manifestations that we could add to this list or is this the complete list?

Photo by Ken’s Oven on flickr

There are certainly a number of other lists of the gifts. Some refer to spoken contributions when we gather as church. Others include more natural abilities that can be used in serving such as administration. Others list roles in the church such as apostles. Many of these lists overlap and none may be exhaustive.

This is probably the most famous lists of gifts of the Holy Spirit, certainly in charismatic circles. It is through these gifts that we know the Holy Spirit is with us when we gather together and when we are sent out in mission. However some of the gifts are better understood than others.

1 Corinthians 12:8-12

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Before turning to speculation about the tenth gift of the Spirit I want to define each one of the gifts in this passage in turn and look at how they work especially in relation to mission. What are they? How do they work? How do they help us fulfill God’s mission? Of course the purpose of the gifts is to build each other up as the body of Christ but the impact of these gifts also overflows to others.

1. A word of wisdom

This is when God gives someone insight into how God is working out his purposes so that they can speak into a situation enabling someone to make appropriate sensible decisions.

The word of wisdom can be seen as an inspired application of a supernaturally revealed insight into a certain situation. Like many of the gifts this may come in very natural ways in conversations and provide practical help in situations leading to level-headed and successful responses.

Wisdom

Wisdom by zigazou76 on flickr

So is a word of wisdom just God planting a seemingly random thought into our head of what do in a certain situation? Or it is insight about how to apply the truths about God’s ultimate purpose of sending Jesus? Looking at chapters such as 1 Corinthians 2 I get the feeling that it is it is more likely to involve the latter.

In Know Your Spiritual Gifts Mark Stibbe points out that it is not surprising that Jesus – wisdom incarnate – astounded people with his wisdom, such as when he answered his accusers’ questions about eating with sinners or when he said of the woman caught in adultery, ‘If any of you is without sin let him be the first to throw a stone’. Such insights were fundamentally theological but spoke about God’s purposes into situations in very practical ways.

A word of wisdom, then, is God helping us to apply our insights about God’s purposes into the ever the changing situations around us. Perhaps it can involve God helping us to listen to others and to really hear what they saying. The Spirit might bring to mind the questions that we need to ask or a story that might have some bearing on the situation that brings such insight into what is being discussed.

Though the context of 1 Corinthians 12 is the gathered church I see no reason to limit it to church conversations. God also speaks as we are involved in mission. Many of the words of wisdom spoken by Jesus are in conversations with people other than his disciples.

Let us look for God to guide our conversations with everyone so that we may demonstrate God’s wisdom to the world.

2. A word of knowledge

I tend to see the definition of this as ‘God given insight into God’s heart and mind’ that is given by teachers such as Rodman Williams and Mark Stibbe as being the most biblical. But the idea of this being specific knowledge of a situation that God reveals has been popularised by preachers such as John Wimber and is often what people mean when they use this term.

In the 1980s John Wimber popularised the term of a ‘word of knowledge’ as a supernatural insight into a person’s heart or situation. In practice what it often meant was someone getting up in a worship gathering and saying, “There is someone here with…” and describing a certain illness or injury. It is still often used in this way today.

What does the Bible say?

But is this popular idea really what the Bible describes as a ‘word of knowledge’? We can read stories such as Jesus and the woman at the well where God reveals facts supernaturally but what reason do I have to call this a word of knowledge?

Apart from 1 Corinthians 12 the phrase ‘word of knowledge’ doesn’t appear in the Bible. So in order to answer this question two authors I have much respect for Mark Stibbe in Know Your Spiritual Gifts and J Rodman Williams in Renewal Theology both look at the immediate context of what Paul meant by knowledge.

To Paul knowledge didn’t involve finding out about other’s people’s secrets. It involved receiving insight into God’s secrets now revealed – into the “unfathomable depths of God’s grace”, the wonderful truths about “his gracious gift of his son”, this grace that is now available to us his church.

This is not to say that God doesn’t speak supernaturally to people about situations just that they can’t see any justification for calling that a word of knowledge. They both suggest it would be more Biblical to call such experiences prophecy as Bible passages indicate that this is how the prophets spoke and never use the term ‘word of knowledge’.

So how should we define ‘word of knowledge’?

Perhaps it would be more accurately to use the term ‘word of knowledge’ to describe the sharing inspired insights into God’s purposes and grace with those we talk to.

3. Faith

The gift of faith is when God encourages you to hold onto him in a difficult situation even if you can see no way out. People’s faith may be stimulated by stories of answers to prayer – particularly of healing and miracles – or even of others being saved – but we need to ensure that these are cautiously stated and are factual and true or people will become cynical. Ultimately it is God that gives the faith it isn’t something you can whip up.

Faith

Faith by 4thglryofgod

The ability to move mountains

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says ‘If I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing’. This is a reference to what Jesus said about mountain moving faith in Mark 11. These verses show that the gift of faith is a supernatural confidence that God will remove any obstacle that gets in the way of us his purposes.

What, all the time?

I don’t agree with much of the Word of Faith teaching sometimes referred to as the ‘faith movement’ that is popular in some Christian media such as the God Channel. They imply that we are called to live in such mountain moving faith all the time. This sort of teaching can get people into serious financial trouble.

No, not all the time

In reality we pray and do not always see the answer come. We may be convinced that it is what God wants but still God does not do it. We also have doubts and we should not be made to feel guilty about that. A friend of mine David Matthew has written this article on this inspired by his own situation of praying for his house to sell.

But yes, sometimes

I believe that on occasions God does give us a confidence to see an obstacle overcome to further the purposes of his kingdom. This is the gift of faith.

4. Gifts of healing

Healings occur when God enables you to supernaturally bring about wholeness and relieve someone’s suffering in response to prayer. Healings may also come in response to you commanding sickness to leave or you commanding a healing to come as we see Jesus and the early apostles doing. But I think we need to take care that we do this in a gentle yet authoritative way.

Any believer can pray for the sick

The Bible says that elders are specifically called to pray for the sick. But it also shows that others may pray for healing too.

Writers such as Mark Stibbe and J Rodman Williams point out that the use of the present continuous tense here indicates that anyone who has been used in healing may expect to be used again in this way.

Of course they would agree that there are no guarantees. Perhaps that is why Paul does not use the term ‘healer’.

Let us pray with faith

The gifts of healing do appear to have a link with the gift of faith. When faith is present healing can happen and lack of faith can inhibit it.

We shouldn’t blame others or ourselves for lack of faith when healing does not occur. This sort of faith is a gift from God as much as the healing is. I don’t know why God doesn’t always heal. But I still keep praying for people and expect them to get well.

Don’t just pray for the sick in church

Of course we pray for each other to be healed when we gather as a church. We may even do that with the laying on of hands. But the Book of Acts shows us that this gift also has an important place in mission.

‘Healing on the Streets’ – a missional project that I looked at earlier this year – follows the Biblical pattern of speaking to the sickness in an authoritative yet gentle way, often also with the laying on of hands and sometimes anointing people with oil. But I don’t believe that street outreach should be the only or even the main outlet for this gift.

Offer to pray for your friends

In everyday conversation if someone tells us about an illness we can offer to pray for them. We may offer to pray for them audibly in front of them and lay hands on them but we don’t have to. We can offer to pray in our own devotional times or suggest that we ask our small group or church to pray.

We can be hesitant sometimes because we fear that God may not heal them. But even if God does not heal them, people will often be grateful for our prayers. So let’s take the opportunity and offer to pray anyway. We might be surprised at the result!

5. Miraculous powers

These are when God enables you to meet the needs of others in amazing and unusual ways. The way this term is often used gives much overlap with healing – but another important aspect of this God given provision. We need to take care to distinguish needs from wants and not be led astray by materialism. I am thrilled when I hear of God providing money and resources when it clearly demonstrates God’s care for the poor.

picture by jczorkmid on flickr

Miracles are powerful sudden and undeniably supernatural works of God. They may include sudden healings or unexplained provision of needs. As a charismatic I believe that miracles continued throughout history and do occur today although by their very nature they are not a common occurrence.

Miracles build our faith

Stories of true miracles are thrilling as they show God at work and bringing his grace and mercy to needy people. It is so encouraging when a friend or colleague tells us of something amazing that has happened as a result of our prayers. This can increase our confidence in praying for the needs of our friends.

Though I am skeptical of hype

Unfortunately if we search the internet for stories of miracles today we find stories of healings in big meetings surrounded by hype. God may well be at work in some of the situations but I must admit to being skeptical.

There are also cases of miracles such the appearance of gold fillings in people’s teeth or gold dust falling from the ceiling. I cannot see why God would do this as I can see no real benefit to the people involved.

I am sure that there are true miracles today

I am thrilled by personal accounts of God answering the prayers of people I know.

I also love hearing stories that are often ‘off the radar’ so to speak. It is great to hear stories of God providing for people, especially in poverty stricken countries, healing people or even bringing them back from the dead in places where access to medical care is limited. Here I can see God’s hand meeting people at a point of need.

Yes, despite my skepticism of the hype I believe that God can and does move today. These are Gifts of miracles!

6. Prophecy

When God speaks to you so that you can show others what he is saying. This doesn’t need to have the trapping of ‘Thus says the Lord…’. You might just want to say that you sense the Holy Spirit is emphasizing something that you go on to explain. It might be about God’s nature or purposes or specifics of a situation. Though some may refer to revelation about specifics of a situation such as insights into someone’s health problems as a word of knowledge – the Bible appears to refer to this as prophecy.

What is prophecy?

As a charismatic I believe that God still speaks today. God speaks through the Bible and the Spirit may emphasise certain verses to us and show us how these apply. This is the beginnings of prophecy.

Christian prophecy should never contradict what the Bible clearly says but it will be more than just someone explaining what the Bible means. It is someone speaking God’s perspective on a particular situation that may include facts that God reveals and even predictions of what God will do.

God may bring ideas to our minds as we focus on him either to be spoken right away or to be meditated on and then spoken at another time.

How should prophecy be worded?

In the Old Testament prophecy was mainly spoken in the first person as if God was actually dictating the message word for word in the prophet’s mind.

Interestingly in the New Testament we see prophecy said as ‘the Holy Spirit says that…’ rather than ‘Thus says the Lord…’ I have heard prophecy today in both formats but I must confess to feeling more comfortable with someone explaining what they feel God might be saying than saying ‘God says…’

This more conversational approach leaves us room to weigh what God is saying. It allows people to take what is good without worrying if they think that one or two phrases were not of God.

Where do we prophesy?

Prophecy may be for each other as we gather together in each other’s homes or in larger gatherings but also it may also be for others outside the church.

It could be that God gives a prophecy that is very relevant to a non-Christian who is visiting our meeting. But it could also be that God speaks to you with something to say to one of your friends or colleagues. If so we could end up prophesying anywhere – in a cafe or in a pub.

I wonder if raising a topic in conversation may prove a more fruitful way to explore what God is saying than saying ‘God told me this…’ especially if you are talking to someone who isn’t a Christian.

Whoever the prophecy is for whether the gathered church or individual friends or colleagues we need to pray for an opportunity to speak it out – and then go for it!

7. Distinguishing between spirits

The gift of discernment may give you insight into what is actually happening in a given spiritual situation. For instance, when someone is apparently responding to God in an unusual way is this really the Holy Spirit moving being embraced with humility or is it an emotional response as the result of human hype or showmanship or are their even evil forces at work here?

Spiritual discernment is telling the origin of a word or action. Is it inspired by God? Is it just someone’s good idea i.e. from their own spirit? Is its origin from some evil forces? As Christians this should be carried out with a charitable attitude. We need to take care that our seeking of the truth doesn’t end up making us angry and bitter mud slingers. Too often have I seen internet discussions between Christians go this way.

Discernment inside the church community

When a prophecy, teaching or an idea is brought to the church or Christian group it is important to discern its origins. Paul says that prophecy should be weighed. If the group is small enough a good way to do this is through questions and discussion. In a larger church situation this conversational approach may be more difficult. But however it is done the final responsibility of sifting what is said rests with the elders. However if God gives this gift to others they can express their feelings on this to the elders.

Discernment outside the church community

It could also be we need to be aware of the forces at work in our community, workplace or wherever we are trying to reach. I am aware that some charismatics have some quite bizarre ideas about how the devil works and how we should deal with him. We often need to be discerning about our approach to discernment.

Nigel Goring Wright’s Theology of the Dark Side gives a helpful and balanced understanding of how these forces may work. See my review of his book here.

8. Speaking in different kinds of tongues

Speaking in tongues is when God enables you to speak to him in languages you have never learnt. As with all the gifts you are still in control but if you receive this gift unlike other gifts you can operate it at will especially to use in their own devotions. Though sometimes the first gift someone receives we cannot say that without this ability someone is not Spirit filled.

The gift of tongues or the gift of languages is the supernatural ability to speak in a language that you have never learnt. Although it can be an earthly language, as it was on the day of Pentecost, often it is a heavenly language that is unintelligible to human hearers unless it is interpreted.

Are tongues the sign of baptism in the Spirit?

In Pentecostal circles speaking in tongues is often understood to be the initial sign of baptism in the Spirit. Baptism in the Spirit is not automatic upon becoming a follower of Jesus. It is a definite deep spiritual experience accompanied by some outward sign. My own experience was that I did speak in tongues but I cannot see from the scriptures that tongues are necessarily the sign of baptism with the Spirit.

How should we use speaking in tongues?

Personally I have found that praying in tongues silently in this way can be a real help as I go about my daily life. It strengthens me enabling me to be confident enough speak out or help someone when I need to and it opens up a channel through which God can guide my prayers.

Also in many charismatic circles there is a practice of everyone speaking in tongues at the same time. It appears that Paul tells the Corinthians that this isn’t the way to use these gifts. It is selfish and will course any guests or visitors to doubt the sanity of the group.

Paul indicates two ways to use tongues. Either one person at a time should speak in audibly tongues and someone else should interpret so that the rest can understand what is said or they should be speak in tongues silently holding the words inside their head.

I have discussed some these points on speaking on tongues before on my previous blog here.

9. Interpretation of tongues

The Bible indicates that speaking in tongues when we come together should involve each person speaking in turn and that someone should then explain to others what someone who just spoke in tongues actually said. I would only speak in tongues in this way if I felt specifically prompted by God and I believe the result would be a prayer from the Spirit that sums up some or all of the people’s hearts. When I hear such tongues or speak them myself I often sense that I understand them and so give the interpretation.

Generally tongues are languages that cannot be understood by the hearer. However Paul talks about tongues being explained to everyone by an interpreter. Many years ago I asked God for the gift of interpretation and began interpreting tongues.

Tongues should be interpreted as prayers

Paul argues that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to speak to God. This indicates to me that an interpretation will not be in the form of God speaking to us. Rather the interpretation will be in the form of a prayer. In my experience this isn’t so much a personal prayer but a prayer that gives insight into the heart of his people towards him – our longings and frustrations, our rejoicing and thanksgiving.

How I began interpreting tongues

After seeking God for the gift of interpretation I found that often when I spoke in tongues I began to understand what I was saying. It wasn’t that I now knew the language and could now translate anything I heard in it. But when I spoke I felt that I intuitively knew what it was about.

In my own devotional times I began to speak in tongues and then speak out what I felt I had said. The next step was to speak out in tongues when we came together as a church and then to interpret that tongue. Also as I listened to other people who spoke in tongues I found that I had similar experiences of understanding. So when people spoke out in tongues I started to also come forward directly after they had and speak out what I believed they had said. It was great to be in a church where there was freedom to do this.

Can we use interpretation in mission?

I have already found that speaking in tongues throughout the day helps guide my silent prayers. I wonder if the next step is to offer to pray with my non-Christian friends when they have a need. Praying silently in tongues to myself first and then praying out the interpretation.

What’s number 10?

Paul refers to these nine as manifestations of the Spirit. There are a number of other lists of the gifts. Some refer to spoken contributions when we gather as church. Others include more natural abilities that can be used in serving such as administration. Others list roles in the church such as apostles. Many of these lists overlap and none may be exhaustive.

In looking for a candidate for the tenth gifts I think we need to consider how the distinction between roles and manifestations is blurred by the way they are mixed in other lists back in 1 Corinthians such as 12:29-31 that lists:
• apostles
• prophets
• miracles
• healing
• helps
• administration
• tongues
• interpretation

So here are some possible candidates for further gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Gifts of ministry

If we refer to Ephesians 4: 11 we see that apostles and prophets appear to be more like offices in the church with the people themselves being the gifts to the church.

However someone may have a gift of evangelism though not have a leadership office of evangelist – perhaps it is still right to see them as an evangelist but not as a leader. Perhaps we can all be endued to some extent with these gifts for example some people may tend to be more prophetic than others or some more pastoral. After all ministry means serving rather than leading and we are all called to serve.

Gifts that amplify natural abilities

Would it be right to put a natural ability alongside these manifestation of the Spirit?

Just as helps and administration are listed in 1 Corinthians 12: 29-31 natural abilities and supernatural endowment are combined in Romans 12:6-10 that lists prophecy alongside:
• serving
• teaching
• encouraging
• giving generously
• leadership
• showing mercy

So perhaps it would.

Gifts of generosity

10th gift of the Holy SpiritCould giving generously be our tenth gift? Another list in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 again blurs the distinction between the nine manifestations and natural abilities and again mentions giving:
• tongues
• prophecy
• faith
• giving generously
• hardship (or martyrdom)

Showing mercy in Romans 10:12 and even hospitality in 1 Peter 4:9-10 may all be kinds of giving generously. For some believers giving of monetary resources may lead to hardship or even giving to the extent of giving our lives in martyrdom in some places today.

As well as martyrdom another gift that might not be too popular today could be that of celibacy. If you look at Corinthians 7:7 this might be another candidate for us – thankfully alongside marriage. Perhaps this could be another an aspect of generosity implying a giving up of our time to the extent of not spending it on raising a family.

To minister or to serve is just one manifestation of giving generously. And though someone may naturally give even if they are not a believer yet God can empower giving in amazing ways. So if I had to nominate a tenth to add to complete this list of the ten gifts of the Holy Spirit personally I’d choose gifts of generosity.

What do you think?

Are their only nine manifestations? I know there are only nine in I Corinthians 12:8-10 but God is such a creative God, surely there must be more? Perhaps you can think of others – either in the Bible or in your own experience. Which one would you nominate as the tenth? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Further Reading

Here is a good summary of Mark Stibbe’s out of print book Know Your Spiritual Gifts summarised by Alison Morgan

A friend of mine Scott Lencke is blogging about these gifts from 1 Corinthians 12 in his own blog Prodigal Thought and in a related team blog called “To Be Continued”.

Scott Lencke has started a series of posts over on Prodigal Thought on ‘What is Prophecy?’ Part one is here.

Discerning of Spirits another a post by Scott Lencke on Prodigal Thought.

Related posts on CharisMissional

What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?
What Does Charismatic Mean?
When I Spoke in Tongues at Greenbelt
How Often Do You Speak in Tongues?

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November 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (3)

What If Greenbelt And Spring Harvest Merged?


What would it be like if these two major Christian events merged? Spring Harvest tends to attract the evangelical charismatic types whereas Greenbelt emphasises missional living, social justice and a less in your face approach to Christianity. So this got me thinking that result of the merger might be rather CharisMissional.

Greenbeltdid once explore a partnership with Spring Harvest developing a Youth event called Freestate during its financial difficulties in 1999. However was abandoned andGreenbeltmoved to its new site at Cheltenham Racecourse from which it has moved from strength to strength.

How Do Greenbelt And Spring Harvest Differ?

Greenbelt is one of the major Christian Festivals here in the UK. Over the August Bank holiday weekend they have bands, speakers and lots of other activities in the grounds of Cheltenham Racecourse. It’s more of a music or arts festival than a Christian conference as such.

Spring Harvest, on the other hand, is one of our major Christian conferences. It is more focused on teaching and preaching with speakers and times of worship with some big names leading the meetings. It runs in Butlins over the Easter holidays.

I think a big challenge would be that Greenbelt’s faith base is wider than Spring Harvest’s. Although Spring Harvest have appeared over the last few years to embrace more of the social justice element and generally don’t appear as conservative as they have done in the past. They are still really evangelical in their stance and I think they might struggle with Greenbelt’s inclusiveness.

I suspect if this idea were to work some compromises would be necessary. SoGreenbeltmight have to lose some of the more liberal elements and not mind being overwhelmed by the evangelical charismatic element. In return Spring Harvest might have to tolerate some acts and speakers that it would otherwise not have invited. This can present some challenges to evangelical types but the wider perspective can be stimulating and if not overdone might not really be a problem especially to the more discerning.

What Might The Merger Look Like?

The new merged event could be called ‘Green Harvest’ or even better still ‘Springbelt’! I would suggest two half weeks or five days with each one having three full days and the first day starting in the evening and the final day ending in the afternoon. It would be great to do it on a Butlins site with all the facilities including chalets but also have room for extra camping so that each even could cater for about 10,000! They could run over the Spring Bank half term or the first week of the school summer holidays. But one big challenge would be to secure extra space around Butlins. It would be a shame to lose the Butlins facilities but if this wasn’t possible it might mean looking for another venue such as a really big caravan park with plenty of space around it or use a showground.

As a Springbelt week would be bigger than Spring Harvest all the normal Spring Harvest sessions could run but in addition the extra space around Butlins we could bring Greenbelt’s Main Stage and Performance Café in. Having teaching and worship session happening at the same time as the music is something that is already done at festivals such as Creation Fest. What such a merger would bring would be greater choice for Spring Harvesters but less choice for Greenbelters. This might not necessarily be a bad thing for Greenbelters as I’ve often found the choice in Greenbelt’s programme a bit too much.

One week Springbelt could have the Tiny Tea Tent and another week the Chai Chapel and some of the Greenbelt caterers to help Butlins cope with all the extra food needed. One of the stages in Butlins could also be used for Underground – the dedicated hard rock venue and if needed more tents could be erected for other teaching venues for whoever needs it.

We could still have the children’s sessions but if they had less and/or made them more optional and more all age activities and worship then they would be freer to explore the site.

It would be great to see Spring Harvest’s PRAYERhouse and GODSpace merged with Greenbelt’s alternative worship venues providing time for prayer and led worship services over most of the days.

Just some wild speculation. What do you think?

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July 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (2)

Porpoise Diving Life on CharisMissional

And so we conclude the series on the CharisMissional articles from the October 2007 edition of The Porpoise Diving Life. I hope you enjoyed them. Here is a recap:

Grace on CharisMissional encourages Christians who are not from a charismatic background to be open to the supernatural and those who are from a charismatic background to be more open to using the gifts in mission.

Grace on Inner Healing points out that God’s mission is to bring shalom. Inner healing doesn’t have to be hyped up or associated with the bizarre. God can use deliverance to bring real freedom and wholeness to individuals.

Brother Maynard on Evangelism outlines power evangelism and lifestyle evangelism. He recommends his own blend of the two that include relationship, conversation and prayer, which he dubs charismissional evangelism.

Chrysalis by Rob McAlpine makes the fascinating observation that some of those who have left churches can still bring God’s kingdom to others and may even be desperate to find new ways to move in the Spirit as they become active in their faith again.

These are just a few of the articles in that edition of Porpoise Diving Life. Please feel free to explore the other articles. On a post on his own blog Brother Maynard introduces the edition and links to all the articles here. Why not have a look at them and perhaps discuss them here in the comments or do some link posts to them in your own blog? It would be great to know what you think about them.

 

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August 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Chrysalis by Rob McAlpine

Photo by SidPix

In this next Porpoise Diving Life article Chrysalis, Rob McAlpine, who blogs under the name of Robbymac discusses his fascinating perspective on what it means to be CharisMissional for those who have left churches – particularly charismatic churches. You may recall a couple of week’s ago I blogged about Robbymac’s book ‘Post Charismatic?’

As he discussed in his book charismatic and Pentecostal churches are the fastest growing churches world-wide. Yet in the West there are a number of people leaving charismatic churches and needing time to get over the effects from some of the abuses and extremes before they become active in their faith again.

Robbymac suggests that during this time of ‘detoxing’ from church some people may actually discover a new emphasis on God’s kingdom in their everyday life. Instead of wanting to bring people to church they get motivated to reach out to their friends and share the kingdom with them.

He uses the metaphor of a chrysalis to explain this process. During the chrysalis stage a caterpillar appears to have died but actually it is transforming into a butterfly.

Robbymac has observe people who have left churches going out and serving the poor and marginalised – being Jesus to them – and also praying for people to be healed and set free. One of the Bible passages inspiring them is Luke 10. Robbymac has watched those who have got over their previous bad experiences of church come back to life, so to speak. He has noticed them distancing themselves from previous abuses and excesses of charismatic life. But he also notes that many are still desperate to find a way to go in the power of the Spirit in their new missional context. Read the article here.

I’ll conclude this series on Wednesday.

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August 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Brother Maynard on Evangelism

The next article that I want to look at is CharisMissional Evangelism by Brother Maynard.

Signs and wonders are one hallmark of charismatic evangelism. John Wimber popularised this idea in the 1980s in his book Power Evangelism. The basic idea was that supernatural gifts such as healing should accompany the proclamation of the gospel. This view is still held today in many churches. I can understand that some may fear that this may discredit the gospel if the healings promised do not materialise but I still feel that this can be a valid practice.

Brother Maynard points out that also during the 1980s in other circles there was a growing emphasis on Lifestyle Evangelism. ‘Sharing our faith’ has often meant just entering into a dialogue about Jesus. On the other hand Lifestyle Evangelism stresses the importance of demonstrating our faith in our lives. Of course for lifestyle evangelism to really be evangelism we must never forget to mention Jesus!

Power Evangelism and Lifestyle Evangelism both involve ‘proclamation’ and ‘demonstration’ but in different ways. Brother Maynard recommends we ‘proclaim’ the gospel by having natural conversations with people who want to discuss issues of faith and we demonstrate the gospel both by letting people see how our faith in applied to our everyday lives and by offering to pray for people’s needs in low key ways. Though he has some misgivings about the word ultimately this is what he would call CharisMissional Evangelism.

You can find Brother Maynard’s article here.

Stay tuned for another CharisMissional article from Porpoise Diving Life soon.

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August 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Grace on Inner Healing

In this next article from Porpoise Diving Life, blogger Emerging Grace (now Kingdom Grace) reminds us that pursuing a missional life means being ministers of reconciliation.

We are ambassadors of Jesus sent with a message of the kingdom that people can be reconciled to God. The message of the Kingdom should not be seen as just a get out of hell ticket for when you die. It should be seen as introducing people to the God’s kingdom. And as his reign and rule is expanded in their lives now Jesus brings inner healing, freedom and peace.

Grace sees God’s mission – the missio Dei – as including bringing shalom to people. Shalom doesn’t just mean peace it also means, and I would say is perhaps better translated as, wholeness. Grace in her experiences as a charismatic has seen some bizarre things in the area of deliverance. But despite the hype she also knows that God brings genuine freedom through this process. She would like to see inner healing and deliverance removed from the realm of the weird and wacky.

Grace ends by quoting Matthew 10:7-8

As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

This post just gives a tantalising peek at this topic. There is so much more to explore. How do we guard against the hype that she mentions? She explores inner healing but what about physical healing? How do we apply the verses about casting out demons today? What do you think?

You can find Grace’s article here.

I’ll look at what another contributer, Brother Maynard, says about healing and evangelism next.

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August 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Grace on CharisMissional

The name for this blog is not original. On the website of the Porpoise Diving Life you can find several articles from their October 2007 issue that discusses this idea of CharisMissional. In my next few post I want to link to some of these articles so that you can see what they say about being CharisMissional.

Emerging Grace now blogging under the name of Kingdom Grace, was the one who coined the word. I’m not sure what her real name is so I’ll just call her Grace. I want to kick off with her article ‘Why CharisMissional?’

Grace’s heart is that those who are not from a charismatic background should be open to the supernatural, and embrace the Holy Spirit in mission. It does not have to look like charismatic hype it can be just whatever grace we need in a given situation. Likewise those from a charismatic background need to rediscover God’s call to mission and express the gifts in ways that truly serve others rather than themselves.

Speaking as a charismatic I must shout a loud ‘Amen’ to this! Even with our experience of the Holy Spirit and the charismatic gifts it all too easy to ignore God’s voice calling us to those outside the church. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to be charismatics outside of our gatherings as well as in them. We must not use the anointing for our own glory. Praying for revival and going to conferences about changing the world is not enough. We need to mix with those outside the faith. We were not created just to be church-goers but to be co-labourers with God.

You can find Grace’s article here and her introduction to the series here. I’ll share some more post about the other articles soon.

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August 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

Missional Living

As Christians, God has sent us into the world with a mission to transform the world into the world that God wants. Missional living is simply responding to that commission. It’s all about being a missionary in our everyday life. It means identifying with Jesus’ mission on earth and continuing that mission in culturally relevant ways. I’m so slow. After thirty years of being a Christian I feel that I’m only just beginning to live like this. It’s not just a special calling for a few. I want to encourage all Christians to live like this.

God’s mission to transform the world

Jesus was anointed with God’s Spirit at his baptism to empower him for God’s mission to transform the world. Our baptism in water and receiving the Holy Spirit prepare us to continue that same mission of transformation. For most of us this won’t involve crowds flocking to hear us preach and hundreds being miraculously healed by our touch. But it can involve our being hospitable to someone less well off than we are – if only we are prepared to take a few risks. It can involve people gaining spiritual insight through having a conversation with us – if only we are prepared to listen to them.

Photo by Ed Yourdon

There are two important aspects of how we can transform our world. We need to hold on to what we believe and we need to present it in ways that are meaningful. The challenge is to be immersed in our culture and to maintain our distinctiveness at the same time. Then we can effectively transform that culture. Just as Paul adapted his presentation of the gospel when talking to Gentiles rather than Jews, we need to keep adapting today.

Lifestyle choices make a difference

For us as a family, embracing missional living today has involved a number of lifestyle choices. Among other things these include living more simply and buying fair trade and environmentally friendly products. It has also meant helping with charity work that serves asylum seekers and being involved with a Drop In Centre and ministry to the homeless, and more recently setting up our own project. All of which I’ve fully enjoyed and in doing them I’ve grown in confidence. In giving we receive.

Some of Jesus parables show us that God’s Kingdom grows through the influence of the minority. Just as Jesus mentored a close-knit group of friends, so those of us who are beginning to catch this idea of being missional can encourage others on this journey – not with any manipulation but with an openness and honesty about our own doubts and reservations. So let us encourage one another not to be scared to interact with our culture and to let enough of it rub off on us to be relevant.

Two way spiritual conversations

Of course we transform our culture not just through our lifestyles but also through our conversations. For most of us it isn’t as easy having spiritual discussions with those outside the church who may be less sympathetic to our ideas. But when Jesus sent out his disciples he promised he would never leave them. The mystery of the trinity means that Jesus is present by his Spirit, enabling us to relate to God as our father. The image that Jesus wanted to convey when he taught his disciples to pray ‘Our Father…’ was one of a loving father who would never leave us. We can be secure in our attachment to God and that gives us confidence to be an influence to those around us.

Jesus sends us out today in the same way that he sent out the seventy disciples to preach and to heal in Luke 10. So when my little daughter is ill I lay hands on her and pray. And she is learning to do the same not just for me, but also for her friends at school. Some of us once even set up a prayer stall at a local community event and a number of people requested prayer. I don’t know why everyone isn’t healed. Some may argue that healing may just be the result of positive thinking. I’m sure God does use people’s expectations to help bring about healing. Nevertheless I still believe that it is God’s work and it is God whom I thank.

When I first became a Christian I was eager to tell everyone about my faith. Over the years my natural shyness reasserted itself. I find it important to find time for socialising. It’s not always easy with a busy family life to find time to go to pub with friends. But I am learning to be more sociable both with Christians and non-Christians alike.

I have always been one to listen carefully and to question when learning from other Christians. Now, as I listen in the same way to non-Christians, they too want to listen to me. Looking back now I think what passed for conversations in the past was just me arrogantly blurting out some Christian slogans. But now I sometimes find myself chatting to others exploring an issue together. I probably gain as much from them as they gain from me. And I am learning to trust God that he will lead us all into his truth.

I don’t think listening undermines what we stand for. It enhances it. It makes it meaningful to others. Genuine two-way spiritual conversations enable us to learn how others think at the same time as opening their eyes to what we have learnt of God. Hence the gospel is communicated and we become more effective as we go. So for me embracing missional living is as much about what I do as what I say and how I say it. My prayer is that people will see something of God’s glory through believers as we learn about missional living.

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August 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (2)

Becoming CharisMissional

Finding God

At the age of eighteen I was searching to find the meaning of life. I had read a number of books on spirituality and a number of different religions when I decided to read the Bible. I then started to visit a nearby church. I wanted to learn more so I kept going every week and decided to go to their midweek prayer meeting too. It was there that first experienced the Holy Spirit. I heard people speaking in strange languages and began to speak in a language that I didn’t know too. I didn’t really understand what I was getting into. To tell the truth I didn’t even believe everything I was told about it at the time. But the result of this experience was one of overflowing joy and a desire that everyone could know about Jesus and experience the Holy Spirit too.

Early enthusiasm

I began talk to my parents and friends at work about my new found faith in Jesus and what I had experienced. This enthusiasm to talk to people about my faith continued despite me being naturally very introverted. At university I remember having deep conversations about even sometimes late into the night. Sometimes I wasn’t as tactful as I might have been and I wince now at some of the things that I said and I am sure that there were more extroverted Christians who talked about Jesus more than I did. Nevertheless I think like a lot of Christians that I would love to recapture some of that early enthusiasm.

Growing in God

Over the years the busyness of work as a college lecturer and more recently family life as well as getting involved in serving in the church has meant that conversations outside of my Christian circles took more of a back seat. But I have been no less passionate about my faith. I am someone who is never afraid to ask hard questions about my Christianity and so I am grateful for a church that has been so encouraging in my growth. As I have been stirred up to hear God more I’ve found myself able contribute in our meetings. And as I have learnt more about God I have begun to see how some of the ways I used to express ideas were oversimplifications or legalisms that may not always have been helpful. So that now, when I’m asked about my faith, I hope I sound a little less arrogant than I used to.

Missional projects

More recently I have been more involved in missional projects that are serving our local community here in the inner city of Birmingham in an area where there is massive unemployment and a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers. In our spare time my wife and I have set up a work club called WorkShop that meets every Thursday morning. We are working in partnership with Karis Neighbour Scheme – a local Christian charity, our church – Church Alive, and another local church – Church of the Redeemer who provides a room for us to use. Our church is also involved in ministry to the homeless and I have sometimes supported a Drop In Centre that at the moment works out of our little church building.

What about you?

I’m not claiming to know all about becoming CharisMissional. I’m still on a learning journey with this. Please feel free to share your experiences and what you have learnt about becoming CharisMissional in the comments below.

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August 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm Comments (0)

Why CharisMissional?

CharisMissional is a word made out of the two words blended together – charismatic and missional. It was coined by Emerging Grace (now blogging under the name Kingdom Grace). Along with Brother Maynard and Rob McAlpine she wrote a series of articles on this for the Porpoise Diving Life a number of years ago. These two terms represent two important aspects of Christianity that perhaps don’t always overlap as much as they should.

Charismatic

Charismatic churches are probably one of the biggest growth areas in Christianity. They emphasise experiencing the Holy Spirit and the gifts of Holy Spirit. Christians speak out what we believe God is saying to us, praying for people and sometimes seeing God answer in miraculous ways. People invited into gathering where such things are happening experience God for themselves and learn how to hear God and start to pray expecting God to answer. This is exciting stuff. Of course charismatic needs discernment. There has been and continues to be abuses of this. The answer to abuse is not disuse but correct use. Yet even where the gifts are used well the initial excitement with God can slowly disappear of the years. I wonder if part of the reason for this is that in all the excitement we have sometimes neglected the mission that God was equipping us for in the first place.

Missional

A recent topic that has been talked about a lot recently in Christian circles is missional living. There is a growing recognition that Christians are on a mission from God. Missional Christianity values rubbing shoulders with those outside the faith. It says we need to be serving our community and having genuine conversations about things that matter. Without this emphasis our faith can stagnate. The conversation around missional living has emphasised being true to ourselves and being relevant to our culture. In some circles people have been experimenting for decades with more creative ways to worship God. Others have been gathering more informally in homes sometimes having left formal churches that they found weren’t helping them grow in their faith. As some of these groups have reached out to people they have found people joining them feeling that they are ‘scratching where it is itching’ so to speak.

CharisMissional

My reason for creating this blog is simple. It is the conviction that these two aspects of Christianity can inform each other. We need them both. Those discussing missional living have neglected the Holy Spirit to some extent. I wonder if this is because of some of the extremes and abuses they have seen. Similarly those of us who believe that God speaks and move today sometimes don’t let the Spirit move beyond our own worship times. My aim in writing this blog is to stir us all up to be more outward looking, more relevant, seeking to transform our culture and to see the Holy Spirit move not just in our churches but also in our families, our workplaces and our communities.

If you would like more information on CharisMissional please get in touch through my contact page.

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August 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm Comments (0)