The Church On the Move (Part 1 – Holy Spirit)
Today, I’m kicking off a new blog series entitled, “The Church on the Move”. It’s a series highlighting the various paradigm shifts I’m sensing in the Church. These blog posts aren’t meant to be some kind of “prophetic” insights or proclamations. I’m simply projecting where I personally think the Church may be headed. I’m posting these in order to start meaningful conversations about what we might all be sensing collectively. Quite honestly, I’m doing this in part so that I can gain more clarity about what God is doing in and through us.
My first topic for this series is about the Holy Spirit.
A Personal Context for this Conversation:
As a child, I grew up in churches that highly emphasized the presence and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Many of our gatherings were filled with all kinds of spiritual practices, most of which were really strange from my perspective. I never felt comfortable with the way people acted during these “spirit-filled” moments. Although there were some amazing stories of healings, I usually felt like a misfit.
It wasn’t that I had a problem with the Holy Spirit. I have no doubt that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is still active today. My difficulty was with the way people would do things in his name to introduce all kinds of weird ideas and practices. It’s with this context that I now present the following.
A New Kind of Movement of the Holy Spirit?:
In recent months, I’ve been sensing that the Holy Spirit may be shifting some of our focus from how he manifests to why. As a person with connections to charismatic circles, there has always been a deep emphasis on how the Holy Spirit shows up (e.g., Acts 2:1-4). Much of the studies and experiences have revolved around how to get “filled” and what this leads to (e.g., healing, spiritual gifts, personal transformation, etc.).
Here’s the shift I’m sensing…
I personally think that we’re being led into a time where the Holy Spirit will allow us to experience his presence in powerful ways for the sake of embracing humanity with tangible expressions of God’s love. As important as the early parts of Acts 2 may be, let’s never forget the kind of community that was created by the end of Acts 2 (i.e., a community committed to one another as well as those in the city). In fact, I believe the greatest experiences of the Holy Spirit will take place on the streets; not only as some kind of spiritual manifestation (in the traditional charismatic sense), but rather, as a deep experience of God’s presence while we do the work of compassionate justice. The love, wisdom, and hope we will experience on the streets will give us and those we serve a real connection to God himself. We must not discount these kinds of experiences to be less “filling”.
I think some in the Church have distance themselves from the work of the Holy Spirit because of some of the wackiness they’ve seen on TV (e.g., the hair, the lights, the chaos, etc.). This is so unfortunate since we need the Holy Spirit to bring the change we want to see in the world. What if the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our day and age looked more like the following?:
- Embracing of the fringe, the least, and the marginalized
- Development of sustainable projects to bring life-change to people in need
- The mutual sharing of goods, resources, and ministries
- Churches laying down personal brands for Kingdom collaboration
- Working with non-Christian entities to bring the kind of world God would be honored with
- Healing of hearts, relationships, and bodies for the sake of empowering the healed to touch the broken
My perspective has shifted drastically in recent years. I realized that my personal embarrassment of what I saw the Church do with the Holy Spirit prevented me at many levels from trusting in his ministry. Times are different now…
I now go into environments, whether Christian or not, with an expectancy of the Holy Spirit showing up. I really believe this. I find great freedom in knowing that the Holy Spirit can show up beyond the way I’ve seen him in the past (which was mostly limited to church services or “outreaches”). The truth of the matter is that he usually shows up through the way I serve and love people. There’s nothing like practical care that invites God’s presence.
Are you sensing this shift at all on how the Holy Spirit works?