CharisMissional

empowered by the spirit for mission

How To Get Stoned On Jesus: Meet John Crowder

If you want to learn about and experience ecstatic trances, signs and wonders and personal prophecy then you need to check out John Crowder. His organisation the Sons of Thunder Ministries run a number of events in the States and Europe so I’m sure you’ll be able to catch up with him some time.

He’s not just drunk in the Spirit – he’s stoned!

John Crowder is known for his supernatural ministry across the world. Together with his associates John Dunn and Dave Vaughan he holds conferences dubbed ‘rodeos’, ‘house parties’ and ‘slosh-fests’. They even take their meetings out to sea with ‘glory cruises’ around the Mediterranean. These are not just times to hear a preacher and perhaps get prayed for. These are times to clear away the chairs and dance before the Lord. These are times to get inebriated in the Spirit. And looking at some of the YouTube footage of the man himself laughing awkwardly and squinting as if his eyes have become dilated – they are not just times to get ‘drunk in the Spirit’ but also times to get ‘high on Jesus’.

John Crowder makes quite a point about this idea of ‘getting stoned on Jesus’, ‘smoking the “Jehovah-juana” and getting ‘wasted on Jesus’. He sees it as a deliberate way connecting with those influenced by drug culture. His philosophy is that kids will learn about drugs sooner or later so he doesn’t see what he is doing as promoting drugs. In fact he sees marijuana and heroine as the substitutes or counterfeits of the ‘real deal’. His aim is to get you high on the pleasures of God before you are ever tempted to get high on anything else. He wants you to be seeing visions before they ever think about taking hallucinogens.

On occasions you can see him “tokin’ the Holy Ghost” by apparently pretending to smoke a figurine of the baby Jesus. But Crowder explains that he is not pretending to take drugs he really is getting blasted on the Holy Spirit. Also he can be seen getting drunk on ‘Godka’ which apparently is just water but once again as he drinks it he drinks in the Holy Spirit and really does get ‘sloshed’.

Now people who operate in the prophetic are sometimes inspired to do bizarre symbolic gestures to become living parables. For example Ezekiel was called to cook meals over faeces. Isaiah stripped naked to make a point, Jeremiah wore a yoke and God told Hosea marry a prostitute. But if what he claims is true this is more than just an illustration. He is really experiencing God through these things and so are the worshipers at these events.

If we are expectant of God moving in a certain way then perhaps he just might do what we are expecting. Of course this could just be suggestion but often in a move of the Spirit people may be pre-empting the experience but still afterwards God does appear to have made a change in their lives. Could there by something in this? Perhaps so.

Bizarre miracles

I’m all in favour of creativity in worship gatherings but creative activities that illustrate a point are not the same as some of these bizarre ‘creative miracles’ that they report. To me these miracles appear just too bizarre to be true. Revivalist styles of Christianity have had their share of sideshow entertainers and confidence tricksters. So you’ll have to forgive me wondering about the miraculous appearances of gold fillings in people’s mouths, of gold dust covering bibles, gemstones materialising, oil pouring from someone’s hands and walls oozing mysterious liquids.

Drawing on a rich mystical tradition

Despite his tendencies to be so sloshed in the Spirit that he cannot speak sensibly in meetings his teaching and writings betray the fact that he does have a coherent grasp of the scriptures and church history. Some of John Crowder’s teaching videos and articles show and a maturity that at first glance you might miss. He has an understanding of church history and sees the supernatural elements in previous contemplative traditions.

Serving the poor

I must also point out Sons of Thunder are doing some very worthwhile work setting up and running an orphanage in India. They appear to be motivated to get out there and address issues of social justice and serve the poor. Jesus said, ‘by their fruit shall you know them’ and surely this is another point in their favour.

What do you make of it all?

I have to admit John Crowder and his friends sometimes make me squirm. I have wondered at times if they are serious. Are they innocently but playfully exploring serving God ‘in the Spirit’ or are they in fact fraudsters? While some of what they do might look to some like a well rehearsed act I think it’s more impromptu even if the impromptu behaviour has been learned over time. Sometimes they appear like comedians poking fun at revivalist meetings. In some ways I would be relieved if they were. But after careful examination I think they are serious.

So if you want to get stoned on Jesus you can just check out these guys. I’m sure you’d learn a lot. But, before you do, ponder these questions. Are these guys really possessed by God or by something else? Does God really work like this? Why would God work like this? Please let me know. I am really interested to know what you think.

Further reading:


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August 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (10)

What Does Charismatic Mean?

Charismatic Christianity is about followers of Jesus using the gifts of the Holy Spirit today. It is about being empowered in a special way by God’s Spirit to say and do things that appear to beyond their natural ability. It also about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit himself in order to be empowered in this way in a similar way to when the early church were first baptised in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

A Charismatic Christian experiences the Holy Spirit

It is now thirty years since I first experienced the Holy Spirit myself. In a small prayer meeting in my local Pentecostal Church I began to speak in a language that I had never learnt.

This was explained to me as ‘speaking in tongues’. 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 experience this too.

There wasn’t any mighty rushing wind or fire but I would see my experience as similar to what happened to the early church at Pentecost. Of course not everyone’s encounter with the Holy Spirit should be a carbon copy of mine but I do believe that God wants to fall on all his followers in a special way.

Some churches have been very dogmatic about what constitutes baptism. Some Pentecostal churches and others see speaking in tongues as essential sign of baptism in the Spirit.

Many Charismatic churches outside of the Pentecostal denominations appear more aware of individual diversity. I would tend to agree with these that are more open to such diverse experiences. I don’t think you can argue that someone has not experienced the Spirit simply because they haven’t spoken in tongues.

But I do believe that the Bible indicates that there is a clear experience of ‘receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit’. Being a gift it is freely given. As believers all we need to do is ask.

A Charismatic Christian believes in spiritual gifts

In a way receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit opens wide the door to moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Even if you feel God has used you in the past in some ways like this I believe that there can be more you can experience. I would encourage you to keep seeking God for his gifts too.

These gifts can be expressed very naturally as part of our authentic relationships with each other. I am glad to say that I often find that the way people speak nowadays is much more down to earth and less hyped than it used to be. I don’t tend hear of people whipping up the crowds as much as they used to. I wonder if generally we are more sceptical of hype.

There are many gifts listed in the Bible and I don’t think any of the lists are exhaustive but the ones in 1 Corinthians 12 are probably associated most with Charismatic Christianity.

You might find God giving you supernatural wisdom in a situation or you find you gain knowledge and insight into a particular scripture that helps in a situation. You might find God increasing your faith to pray for something.

You might lay hands on someone praying for their healing and then find they have recovered when it didn’t appear possible. God might miraculously provide for you, your family or your friends when you had no idea where the money you needed could come from.

You might find God bringing to your mind words or phrases that are particularly helpful to someone or to some group of people. God may give you insight into something someone else is saying. He may show you that it is a God inspired thought or he may prompt you to question it.

Also be open to speaking in tongues and even allowing God to show you what someone is saying when they speak in tongues.

A Charismatic Christian uses these spiritual gifts

Gratitude is a natural response to receiving a gift. And gratitude often results in generosity. If we are invited to someone’s house for a meal we may take a bottle of wine and on a later date invite them to ours. We may even copy our host’s role model and start inviting others into our home.

Spiritual gifts are primarily for the benefit of others. In order to use them we must give them away. And so we serve each other and we serve the world. It is what we as Christians do. Over the years I have come to realise that using our gifts to serve like this is a mark of the Spirit at work.

Whenever Christians gather it is an opportunity to use our God given gifts to serve each other. This may mean praying for each other or speaking God’s word to each other. And actually it involves far more. We share our lives together. We share food. We share our possessions and even our money when the need arises.

There are many gifts we can bring to each other both inside and outside of our worship gatherings – our time, our energy. I feel that we are now on a verge of beginning to use people’s gifts in more creative planned activities within our gatherings and in our life outside the church both in specific mission activities and in our daily life. We just need to ask God and to think more creatively.

Thirty years ago I received this gift of the Holy Spirit and God enabled me to begin to give to others in a way that I’d never really done before. If you haven’t already received this gift I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to ask God that you might experience him in this way and move more in the gifts of the Spirit. My prayer is that as a result God’s giving will be multiplied through you.

It would be great to hear your experiences of the Holy Spirit and his gifts.

Related Posts

10 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Baptised in the Spirit

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August 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm Comments (5)

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)