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November 14, 2005


Dave Breukelaar

I agree with much of what you say. And though I agree with you when you say "Who the hell are we to expect to get anything from worship?", I'd have to say that we do in fact 'get' when we worship. It's true that our intention and goal in worship should not be 'getting', but I believe that any true encounter with God, individually or corporately will result in us 'getting' something as a byproduct.
As a comment about 'power manifestations and people being attracted to church' vs. 'love', I agree 100%. I spoke with a man yesterday morning who was 'church shopping' and had attended several of the local pentacostal/charismatic churches, and there was one in particular of which he said "In the four weeks that I attended I could tell that God was at work in that place, but never once did the pastor or any of the people welcome me", and so he's not going back. That's a tragedy. An overbearing, loud, 'showy' pastor and his flock turned the guy off from worshipping with them.


My only observation here is that since my church went "unchurched" in order to church it with the non-church, I'm now relating to others as an individual who is part of a network rathr than as part of an institution.

So, I wonder which has more resources to serve others? Cos although I'm far more able to help individuals than I ever was before, I sometimes feel less able to help larger problems simply because we no longer have a context where 100s of people gather to be able to convey the problem and offer solutions corporately.


I like this series a lot. I think it's because of the practicalities of facing the issue. You go into love and how to love. You go into service, and what that looks like. You go into gifts; what are they and how do we use them. I also like your breakdown of 1 Cor. I agree with you that we should encourage people to give gifts that aren't creative ones. Sadly there are churches that don't even encourage the creative ones.

Richard Sudworth

"The Spirit has been hijacked by the charismatic/Pentecostal churches" - we need to pay a little bit more attention to our recnt history. The word "hijacked" presupposes that the word "Spirit" was in common usage in churches and meant something quite specific until Pentecostals/Renewal came along. Aside from excptional theological works (Moltmann's "The Church in the Power of the Spirit" would be the classic example and focussed on the Spirit's role as the relational giver and receiver in the Trinity - a concept you emphasise in your thoughts Kester), the word "Spirit" had little currency 40 years ago.

Pentecostals/charismatics have not hijacked the word but given a fresh impetus to "the Forgotton Father" (Tom Smail). The downside is the onesidedness of this Spirit focus (the experiential, the miraculous, the "blessedness").

By all means present the relational dynamic of the Spirit but it sounds like another one-sided corrective to rebalance the church as opposed to a genuine embrace of all that the Spirit can and should be in our midst.

My brethren in-laws are fond of remarking that "we are a very charismatic church: the preaching and teaching is so blessed". Well, yes (maybe) and well, no....could you be saying "a church full of artists is very spirit-filled"? Well, yes (maybe) and well, no.

The question for post-charismatics is how can we retain the gifts of the Spirit that have distinguished the renewal movement whilst incorporating lessons learned about the weaknesses of this movement and the demands of culture and society to shape church today? The more fundamental question is how can the Spirit that is fundamentally giving in relationship and therefore in essence missional dictate the shape of church? That has a whole load more in it than just artists doing there thing (which I crave, applaud and seek) and represents an encounter with the "dirt" (as you term it) of society ie the poor, the old, the marginalised.


Thanks Robbie.

And point taken Richard - you're quite right about the hijack. And also about the fundamental questions.

I'm not familiar with Tom Small. I'd agree that fresh impetus was given to the Spirit, but not sure what I think about the 'forgotten Father' term. The re-balance of the trinity was obviously massively needed. And perhaps everything we do ought to be about simply trying to get that balance right.

In terms of 'God is love' and to love is to give, perhaps the trinity might be understood as the Giver, the Gift and the Means of giving... In missiological terms: it matters what you give, who gives it, and how it's given.


I like what you say Richard- yeah- a church full of artists is a spirit fulled church. What if we see it as the Ruach Breath of God, his spirit deep within each of us that is creative, artistic, expressive, intuitive (hence some of the knowledge *gifts*).

And yes to your comment about how we encounter with the lost and marginalised of society. Maybe we need to become more broad in our understanding of what counts as a 'contribution' in a worship service- what can the marginalised who aren't usually appreciated for who they are contribute? Where do we see the spirit in them? Let's not forget about the widow in the temple who had very little to contribute but gave it all and Jesus honoured her gift above others.


Sister Mary Magnifique

This post really helped heal my wounded soul. Thank you for reminding me that worship is a place I go to give.

A church full of artists!??? Dare I hope?

Kathy Whitaker

Wondering how an encounter with the living God (worship) can leave you unchanged ("I didn't get much out of that worship"). I would think "getting something" whether it's an experience of paradise or an almighty kick up the backside to be an authentication of worship...........I can see that this could lead down dangerous paths, but never the less I believe it's true. And yes, I believe in perserverance and evolution, and waiting and waiting, but if there is no sense of God in that waiting maybe he's got bored and is waiting for us somewhere else? I believe God waits to give us gifts as fuel to the gift economy you describe so inspiringly.

Power manifestations? Yes, sure there are places where that's all there is to it. However, God is power, and when He shows up, aren't power manifestations likely? If the emergent church is breathed into being by the Holy Spirit, I imagine incomprehensible, inexplicable stuff will happen, I challenge you to embrace it; be carried away by it, mess up a little (have power manifestations become dirt??! If so, are they nothing to do with the Holy Spirit?)


An encounter with the living God doesn't leave you unchanged. But too often, 'worship' isn't that sort of encounter, and we need to be brave enough to admit that. And yes, God is often waiting somewhere else... 'waiting to give us gifts to fuel the gift economy' - I like that a lot! God is the source of all gift.

And I like the challenge to embrace the incomprehensible, the inexplicable, to get carried away and messed up. Do I think that happens enough in EC contexts? No way near enough. You're right - power manifestations have become dirty through narrow use, and need renewing. But I still think plain love is better than a hundred cures.


Just came across your blog - sweet.
I consider myself a blend of conservative, charismatic, and contemplative and have been looking for articles on Emergent and "The Spirit".
Good stuff - agree with your views on troublesome terminology. Semantics and personal definitions (tainted by bad experiences) get in the way of meaningful dialogue and cooperation.
As a Vineyard pastor in Canada I was dissappointed to see the article you mention was written by a Vineyard pastor. I think he does a disservice to those of us who embrace elements of the different streams.
I thought Richard Sudworth's earlier comment was right on,
"By all means present the relational dynamic of the Spirit but it sounds like another one-sided corrective to rebalance the church as opposed to a genuine embrace of all that the Spirit can and should be in our midst."
Yes, balance! Generosity, not narrow-minded protection of a single perspective. Definitely we need to graciously purge the extreme, but there is so much to enjoy from various traditions. I want it all!

Good stuff, Kester! See you again.

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