Dear brother and sisters, I need your help.
Yesterday, we attended a neo-Penticostal church service firvthe first time in 11 months. It wasn’t culture shock because although we are both Roman Catholic, my wife (a cradle Catholic) is familiar with charismatic praise gatherings and I had been deeply involved in Penticostalism for 30 years.
So – the worship band starts on the button (God time keeping here, that’s a plus for sure) and a love song starts up and its a good thing I already know thjscus Christian worship, because no mention of Jesus in the first few selections.
What I am observing is a highly experience -orientated hour and 45 minutes. I’m trying to discern the underlying base-line theology supporting the performance.
The message is titled: What would Jesus say to Alan Sugar? (Sugar is a British rags to riches billionaire.) The congregation calls out “Alan, I love you!”
Actually, the message although not even touching Theology 101 is quite good and we are reminded not to trust in uncertain riches. But there is also the possibility that we too can be materially wealthy if we trust God enough.
Interestingly, at the end of the worship, I fully expected the congregation to follow through with singing in the Spirit. After all, right before the worship count-down (yes, really!) a pre-recorded message invited people to exercise spiritual gifts during the proceedingsm (None did.) However the guy with the announcements jumped-up and anything that might have happened came to a screeching halt. I’ve seen this so very often in Pentecostalist meetings of all types. To me, that may be the greatest failing of the Penticostal experience.
It was a great and uplifting gathering. The people were generally friendly, if a bit distant. But to me I wasn’t worship, wasn’t Bible – it was a showcase for putting a spin on Christian faith so that visitors might get the message that (a) God isn’t angry (b) ‘church going’ is not boring and (c) what Christians are concerned with is relevant to daily struggles and living.
What kind of next-generation Christians are we forming? Where is the message of repentance? Where is prayer and Bible study? It probably takes place during the week in home gatherings. And if so, I like that. But are they run as yet another ‘disciple making program’? Is there room individual g iftings and talent? Or is it mostly about promoting the ‘vision of the church’ (local or denomination.)
I’m genuinely curious about these questions. We will probably go back. I like to fellowship with non-Catholic brothers and sisters. And they have a of if young people participating of their own free will. That is excellent!
But do we or should we REALLY make our one weekly act of gathered worship of God a “seeker-sensitive” experience? I’m not sure That we should. But on the ithr hand, what might be the alternative?
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:26 AM]
He’s said all Pentecostal Churches are like that. Ummm Sorry to interrupt your supper but not all Pentecostal Churches are like that God Bless Amen
Peter A Vandever [10/26/2015 3:33 AM]
New wineskins 🙂
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:36 AM]
I’m sorry but the bible says if you have ought against your brother, then you are to go to your brother and fix it not carry grudges, not to slander a man of God
Peter A Vandever [10/26/2015 3:41 AM]
Huh? What does that have to do with new wineskins?
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:43 AM]
What does that have to do with my comment
Peter A Vandever [10/26/2015 3:44 AM]
All I did is answer John and your idea that we should be trapped in the 1930’s manna “old time religion” is crazy.
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:46 AM]
Whose idea when scripture says they that worship me must worship me in spirit and in truth,
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:48 AM]
Your anger against the men of God and the churches will not get you anywhere either
Peter A Vandever [10/26/2015 3:48 AM]
The Spirit is always the current move of God, not the move of God from 1906 🙂
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:53 AM]
How can you believe and carry a grudge and slander the church the way that you do and matter of fact the acts that the apostles did didn’t die out. Their still at work and actually it wasn’t the apostles that did anything it was the Holy Spirit through them
Joseph Mcmahan [10/26/2015 3:55 AM]
And be careful cause your going down the road of blaspheming the Holy Ghost
John Ruffle [10/26/2015 4:20 AM]
My goodness … I’ve had to check and double check that these comments are actually posted on the thread I started. Maybe I missed something here – I see zero relevance to the observations I posted about participating in a Sunday worship gathering. I was asking genuine questions (or so I thought) and was hoping to get some theological reflection and I insight back. I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone’s sensibilities, but be assured that that was never my intention.
John Kissinger [10/26/2015 8:39 AM]
Rick our msg this Sunday: What would Jesus say to Donald Trump Jon Sellers Alan N Carla Smith
Corey Forsyth [10/26/2015 8:54 AM]
Joseph Mcmahan, I am not sure what thread you originally read but there is absolutely NO hatred or anything of the sort written in this thread. If you will, please re read this and reconsider your scathing rebukes. Bro. Ruffle did nothing but describe his experience and ask for a theological review from us (his brothers and sisters). As for the original post, I am not a theologian by any stretch but I have observed a shift among many churches. Growing up, moat churches were more focused on salvation and bringing people closer to the Lord through the Church. Now, it seems as though many have become performance based in an effort to attract people. While I do not believe their to be anything scripturally wrong with using creative methods to attract newcomers, I do think that the danger is focusing on creativity and losing substance. Once they get in the door, there has to be an atmosphere that is conducive to a genuine encounter with God rather than a mere emotional roller coaster.
John Kissinger [10/26/2015 8:54 AM]
Rick Wadholm Jr [10/26/2015 8:56 AM]
John Ruffle, your experience is sadly not far off from a number of similar experiences I have had, but thankfully is not indicative of all of my experiences by any means. If this was indeed how all our churches functioned than we are to be pitied greatly and rebuked sharply.
John Kissinger [10/26/2015 8:57 AM]
What would Jesus say to… Lesson 1: Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner, Lady Gaga & Oprah http://www.believers.cc/ckfinder/userfiles/files/What%20Would%20Jesus%20Say%20To%20%20%20%20%20Lesson%201%20powerpoint.pdf
Charles Page [10/26/2015 9:14 AM]
John Ruffle, good post and not to far from the typical Charismatic/Pentecostal worship experience.
John Kissinger [10/26/2015 9:53 AM]
got it – John Ruffle went to Hillsong 🙂
John Ruffle [10/27/2015 1:01 AM]
Sad. Only one poster really gave me any real feedback on my experience. I wonder why?
Jon Sellers [10/27/2015 1:19 AM]
John, I had thought of a rather long response but did not type it. I think the bottom line is that churches want to be attractive. So they do things that appeal to people from popular culture. The worship service becomes like a rock concert. The message is full of feel good and humorous commentary. The sharp edges of biblical revelation are smoothed over with the things that most likely would appeal to people. All of this is to attract and retain people to support institution of the church but also in the hopes that by being there they will get the gospel message and will have a relationship with Christ. Is it working? I think we are seeing very mixed results.
John Ruffle [10/27/2015 1:39 AM]
Thank you Jon. I agree with you, and what concerns me is that it appears that spiritual formation is focussed upon becoming active in ‘friendship evangelism’ to the almost total exclusion of developing a robust inner spiritual life dependant upon Jesus and the written Word of God. Indeed, this was a massive factor -a thirst- that led me back to very litergically-based worship. In traditional (catholic) liturgy there are bible readings for every single day of the year. – the preaching follows the scripture where as in just about every non-liturgical fellowship I’ve ever seen (including when I was pastoring one!) the scripture supported the sermon topic. Surely this has to be the wrong way around if we truely claim to be Bible-based?
Jon Sellers [10/27/2015 1:41 AM]
The liturgy can be great if you are hungry for God, but soporific if you are not.
John Ruffle [10/27/2015 1:45 AM]
So then the baseline question may be to discover how hungry for we are? And how we are elicit hunger in those attending
John Ruffle [10/27/2015 1:47 AM]
“The sleep of death..” Jon – if your prognosis is accurate (and I believe it is) then we all within the Christian community of churches have one MASSIVE problem / challenge.