Honey; I Blew up the Charismatic!
Jarrod was recently interviewed regarding the Gifts of the Spirit in the 21st Century church:
Do you believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still being exercised in the Church in England today?
I believe many churches are seeing a small level of prophecy and hearing God’s voice, and some see a level of healing. With some notable exceptions, not many are “eagerly desiring spiritual gifts” (1 Cor 14.) and surprisingly few see the full gifts at operation in public meetings. I suspect some of the UK’s most significant church services might be “Secessionist” if you were to actually analyse what happens over a typical year, even though their statement of faith says otherwise. Some haven’t seen a public, undeniable miracle in decades.
I think several things have negatively affected the moving of the gifts of the Spirit in recent times. Firstly, the wonderful move of God’s Spirit that headlined in Toronto, Sunderland, Pensacola and elsewhere in the 90’s, as well as doing great good, brought out the flaky in some people, those driven by a desire for phenomenon, rather than God. Crowds have since run from revival to revival as platform leaders beg them to span the globe to where “it is happening”.
In some ways the move of God’s Spirit in the 90’s was discredited by some of the very crowds that turned up! Unfortunately some of our most unbalanced, unloving, immature people are revival junkies!
Mankind is often drawn to phenomenon like a drug and can become addicted. Glory, presence and miracles can be the same unless a person is very grounded. Evan Roberts, the Welsh revivalist knew incredible words of knowledge, nation changing presence and thousands saved, but he had several nervous breakdowns. The bible shows us glory will kill us if we’re not careful. No man can see God and survive! And so the very glory many long for, will actually blow a fuse in their shallow spirituality, where discipline, holiness, humility and sacrificial ministry are not being birthed in godliness.
Presence orientated Christians, like me, really need to balance their lives with constant trips back down the mountain. Otherwise our psyche becomes trained to need the drug of phenomenon . It would shock you if I told you how many revivalists suffer from seasons of depression, simply because the human psyche needs balance, and cannot live at one extreme.
If we fall in love with the mountaintop’s rarefied air, and how giddy it makes us feel, we can become godless “Spirit Gift” drug addicts, no better than those outlined in 1 Corinthians. Paul’s response to the drunken, adulterous, self centred, but charismatic, antics of the Corinthians was chapter 13: Get back to some grounded loving lifestyles.
Another one of the most confusing things that discredits the moving of the Gifts in church today, is the fact that moving in miracles and prophecy is not an endorsement of character or proof of godliness. They are simply the tools that accompany a call, whether or not the recipient of the call is living as he or she should. After thousands have travelled the globe to follow their favourite miracle workers latest “revival”, only to discover he or she has obvious weaknesses, a wave of disillusionment with the Gifts of the Spirit ripples across the church. In turn, many of us become cynical regarding revival and the gifts. But we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. The answer to mis-use is not non-use, but correct use.
What has happened to messages and interpretations of tongues?
I stood up to speak at a recent conference, and unknown to me, uttered the words “Please sit down and listen to the words of the King”, in a Kenyan Dialect as I began to speak! Tongues can be immensely powerful, but we should not trivialise it by incorrect use.
In many Pentecostal churches tongues and interpretation has been mis-handled in my opinion. For decades someone would sense the stirring of the Spirit and so speak in tongues. Week after week someone would bring a predictable interpretation that was not a message from God. After 20 years of Sister Bucket-Mouth bringing the same “interpretation” (“Thou my dear children, how I lovest thee”), eventually the true gift gets sidelined, discredited by poor leadership and lack of accountability.
Some would argue that the way spiritual gifts are used today has changed, would you agree?
There are two models of church in the UK today. Firstly, the type of church that reaches the world through good church structure, great music, social action and clear preaching. I would call these “Word-based” churches. Then there are “Spirit-based” churches, with wild moves of God, people over whelmed by the Spirit, enough prophetic pictures to open an art gallery, and hands laid on everything that moves! Spirit-Based churches might be exciting, but they are nearly always small, as they are usually poorly organised.
Along with Wigglesworth, I pray that Word and Spirit would come together, that we would be well organised, excellent and attractive, but also with a free flow of genuine miracles, tested prophecy, and grace giving God encounters. Moses said the presence of God was the distinguishing mark of God’s people (Exodus 33:16), so we must never lose that!
What we also need are apostles that have the mark of an apostle; signs, wonders and miracles (2 Cor 12:12 ). I know leaders that call themselves apostles because they plant churches, or travel. But one of the signs of true apostleship is miracles. They tell me their building programme is a miracle, or the flow of wisdom in leadership meetings is proof of the supernatural. But you cannot deny that Jesus and the early apostles had that ability to wade into a crowd of sick people and perform undeniable, instantaneous miracles. When this dynamic returns to more apostles, I believe waves of expectation will flood our churches again. I believe God is calling apostles to lead the Church in the full flow of both godly character, and glorious power.
With such limited time in church, how should a pastor make room for spiritual gifts?
I believe we need to ebb and flow between dynamics. Alongside moves of God’s presence, and the operation of spiritual gifts, we have to fit announcements & baby dedications. Somehow there should be a balance of prophetic inspirational preaching, and structured, thorough teaching. In our own church we ebb and flow between the two. Some meetings there is more prophetic flow of the Spirit, the worship more tender, people prostrate, with healing and touches of heaven.
But then at other times everything seems a little more organised: teaching series, practical “housekeeping” that needs doing, announcements, and ministry that is more word based than Spirit.
How should an individual identify their spiritual gift?
Your gift gets activated when it’s need is perceived. I get around visionaries, young leaders, an organisation in a season of change, and my prophetic gift begins to be activated. I get around religious people, and something in me rises up wanting to show God is alive here and now with miracles. The Gifts of the Spirit, are “tools” to get the job done for the call God has given you. So understand the call, and you should be able to identify the gifts invested in You. Having said that, remember “he distributes them as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11), so any Christian can move in any gift, just stick close to the Holy Spirit and He’ll show you!
Do you think spiritual gifts are ‘on their way out’ in modern church?
On the contrary, I think they are on the way “back in”. Gifts are nothing to be worshipped and on their own, won’t get the job done of saving Britain. But neither can we organise or musically impress the world into the church. I heard one minister say “the way you save them is the way you’ll have to keep them”. Get them through entertainment, and you’ll have to put on lots of entertainment to keep them! We want disciples, not an audience. So what we want is the balance of godly, disciplined, faith filled inspirational leaders, who can organise, plan and execute God’s purpose. Within all that we need prophecy, healing, miracles, faith and fresh presence.
Where is the best atmosphere where you’ve seen spiritual gifts demonstrated most?
I believe in revival, but not that God is going to fall out the sky one day! Neither does he need us to attend nightly meetings to retain true revival. I love the presence, but I have no interest in putting on nightly meetings for more than a few weeks. Most often the aftermath of such models leaves churches smaller, and people hooked on phenomenon, not discipleship.
The model I am looking for is one where we live “revival” in every day lives, walking in God’s fulness. God in work, school, home. Healing among neighbours, on the streets. I pray that God would get hold of well organised churches, who are sensitive to the flow of His Spirit. That he would flood their discipleship, pastoring and social action connections with the power of the Spirit. I think the most high profile place modelling this would be Bethel Church, Redding, California, but there are many smaller churches working in the same way.