Ask any artist, musician, or photographer: Not everything can be expressed in words. All the more is this true of the Infinite-Eternal God as well as His Image and the relationship between the two. Words are but one tool to help people understand each other and our God. Doctrine was developed for the purpose of unity. Divisive doctrine, by definition, cannot be correct. Where have we gone wrong? Sometimes arguments are caused by too many words and too much parsing. In those cases, less analysis may be the key to understanding one another, and understanding, the key to reconciliation and unity.
Diligent Reconciliation Is Our Strength Against False Teaching
If we neglect an unmet need in the Church, some may stray from the flock merely to seek answers. They will likely find something less than best. If they do find something good then they will be sad not to have the rest of the flock with them.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” God can keep our souls as we genuinely pursue Him. The best guard against the false teachings is not to “caution” people or be “hesitant” at every discussion point, but to have better answers ourselves and leave no heart-questions unattended so that, in this way, Satan has nothing to offer to God’s people. Is “God’s Guidance” a question for some leaders? Then figure it out and provide the best answers possible. Is “heart-felt worship” something people are seeking? Then grab that question by the tail and run with it. Then, people elsewhere in the Body of Christ will seek you out for answers. We don’t need to merely bark at heresy, we can put it out of business by offering the Truth which we ourselves have personally learned to walk-in every day.
If we develop a skilled approach in our known areas of weakness, fewer things will surprise us, and even then, the remaining surprises won’t be so big of a deal.
Soul, Spirit, Flesh
Getting some of these terms straight can help a lot of other conversations go much more smoothly, including “discernment” and God’s leading.
(note: as a linguist, I find typical transliteration irritating, so I use an “e” to lengthen some vowels to tell the difference)
The “soul” (pseuchae/ψευχη) is redeemable (James 1:21) though sin lives in the “flesh”/physical body (sarx/σαρχ) (Romans 7:18-19). A spirit is not necessarily a being, it can be an emotion or atmosphere—“spirit of hate/joy [or something else positive or negative]” —(Jb 20:3, Pr 1:23, Is 4:4; 28:6, 57:15; 61:3, Hos 4:12, Rom 8:15a, 15b, 1 Cor 4:21, 2 Cor 4:13, Gal 6:1, Eph 1:17, 2 Tm 1:7, 1 Jn 4:6) “Spirit” (pneuma/πνευμα) also means “wind” in almost every sense, and is even taught in this way by Christ (John 3:8). The “soul” (pseuchae/ψευχη) is never referred to in any of these ways, but it is redeemable (as mentioned in James 1:21) and therefore eternal. “Soul” (pseuchae/ψευχη) and “spirit” (pneuma/πνευμα) are also contrasted against each other in Hebrews 4:12. “Unclean spirits” (Mt 10:1, 12:43; Mk 1:23, 26, 27, 3:11, 30, 5:2, 8, 13, 6:7, 7:25, 9:25; Lk 4:36, 6:18, 8:29, 9:42, 11:24) are never called “unclean souls”; “soul” (pseuchae/ψευχη) is always, then, a reference to the eternal and religious aspect of a human. A disembodied spirit (understood to be a ‘self-conscious being’) is always a reference to something “not human”. The “spirit” (pneuma/πνευμα) of a human, then, means more of a changing aspect, kind of like an “emotional wind” that comes from a person. The Lord’s own Spirit is the Holy Wind.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Tongues.. and All “That”
This isn’t to address every question that could related, but just to get some of the biggest rocks out of the way..
Chronological Occurrence of Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Terminology
Based on the language of Acts 18:25-19:6, baptism of the Holy Spirit does not necessarily happen at the point of Christian conversion. Moreover, Acts 8:15,16,17 demonstrate a NT Apostolic theology of the receiving of the Holy Spirit’s power coming not necessarily in conjunction with an individual’s demonstration of saving faith. In John 20:22 Jesus “breathes” on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” which happens after their faith in Him, but the actual power and signs of the Spirit do not happen until Acts 2:4. Given the other passages later in Acts which demonstrate the same sequence, Jn 20 appears to be a precedent that did not expire anywhere in Acts. The disciples had the indwelling of the Spirit, but the very observable demonstration of the Spirit’s power, as a result of the Spirit’s indwelling being “activated,” happened at a later time. Acts 19:1-6 shows an instance of men maturing from the faith-based salvation of the Old Testament (of Gen 15:6, still by faith alone) into the faith-based salvation of the New Testament (Jn 1:17) and simultaneously being “immersed” in the Holy Spirit when Paul laid hands on them. The man preaching in Acts 18:25-28 has not been baptized in the Holy Spirit because he was only acquainted with the baptism of John (v 25). Still, he was demonstrating power of the Spirit since no one can teach the truth of Christ except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:13, 12:3). Furthermore, based on Rom 8:9 and 2 Tim 1:14, Paul address the entire Church as if it is assumed that the Holy Spirit “indwells” all Christians. These instances in Acts, in conjunction with Paul having been privy to them and his interpretation thereof in 1 Cor, Rom 8 and 2 Tim, demonstrate a working theology of the New Testament Church that the “receiving” of the Holy Spirit is different from “indwelling” and can, but does not always, accompany saving faith in Christ. Hence, being “immersed” (which is ‘receiving’) and being “filled” by the Holy Spirit may occur at different times, and “filling” possibly even before “immersion”.
The possibility of the Spirit’s “filling” being able to happen before “immersion”/”baptism” would explain the somewhat bi-polar “God-high” phenomenon and feeling of “emotional connectedness with God” coupled with easily-toppled obsession with “resolve and obedience.” In my experience, Evangelicals experience a struggle with both an “emotional roller-coaster” and a “morality roller-coaster” whereas Spirit-Focused communities deal with “emotional deserts” (long periods of feeling ‘distant’ from God, but in a stable way,) but still battle against “morality roller-coasters. (Long Deserts: Spirit-Focused, Emotional Roller-coasters: Evangelicals, Morality Roller-coaster: Both.) Experientially, I’ve seen the “up-down emotional feeling with God” stabilized through Baptism of the Holy Spirit among youth. After this point, the “up-down” is more limited to moral-living and consistency in prayer and Bible reading; the emotional feeling with God doesn’t become perfect, it becomes more stable. That baptism of the Holy Spirit would result in more stable emotions where a relationship with God is concerned is consistent with the Bible’s teaching, notwithstanding that one’s spirit involves one’s emotions so the two would seem somewhat related. This seems to make sense given that emotions are spiritual (see section entitled ‘Spirit, Soul, and Flesh’ in Anthropology.)
Spirit-Focused communities address the “long-term spiritual dryness” in different ways, and many of their different sects draw lines along such distinctions. Of those lines, I prefer the persuasion that “God is near to the broken-hearted” (Ps 31:7, 139:8, 119:151, 142, 147:3) and that “the dessert” can be a place of renewal and deep growth, that “winter is when roots grow deep,” and not necessarily the result from belligerent sin or lack of faith. The dessert helps us to grow on the “inside” to help us deal with sin, and this was even true of Christ in Mat 4 where He went into the desert, not to deal with His own sin (since He didn’t have any sin,) but in preparation to deal with our sin. Jesus went into the dessert because of His faith in that process to prepare Him. Many times we go into the dessert because of faith so we can prepare to deal with sin regardless of where that sin exists.
Signs Validating Baptism of the Holy Spirit
In Acts 2:4 receiving the Holy Spirit for the first time was demonstrated, largely, by speaking in tongues. In Acts 8:15-17, however, when the people in Samaria receive the Holy Spirit, no sign is given to attest to the validity. Neither does Scripture say that there was no sign. In Acts 19:1-6, the people receiving the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues and prophesied. Luke didn’t seem as concerned about whether there was a sign as many people often are today. In the second two instances, “receiving” the Holy Spirit was through “laying on of hands” which was observed by Simon in Acts 8:18, this observation was never refuted. In Acts 2:3, instead of laying on of hands, “tongues of fire” rested on those who received the Holy Spirit’s power. This would make sense since there was no one who had “received” the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the disciples at that time. I believe that the “tongues of fire” were, more or less, God laying His own hands on them for this baptism.
While Scripture does not distinctly state whether or not proof baptism of the Holy Spirit is only demonstrated by speaking in “tongues”, “tongues” is the only post-baptism norm cited that frequently, but not necessarily always, accompanies baptism of the Holy Spirit. Laying on of hands in Christian community is, however, a more frequent pre-baptism norm. Paul demonstrates a very strong working theology that laying on of hands is a significant and effective means of receiving gifts of the Spirit—and a serious responsibility (1 Tm 4:14, 5:22, 2 Tm 1:6). Thus, laying on of hands is a more reputable sign as a pre-baptism norm than tongues, even as a post-baptism frequency. We know that receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a matter of faith (Gal 3:2), just as is salvation from sin (Jn 3:18). So, because laying on of hands (whether they are human hands, hands of ‘community’ of Acts 10:44-48, or God’s hands as in Acts 2) always precedes baptism of the Spirit and is cited as the unrefuted cause, and because faith must be present in any person to receive from God, it is by faith and the laying on of hands that such baptism occurs in one’s life.
The Body of Christ is filled with those who look for a sign that they themselves or another has received this baptism. Ironically, our Lord said that, “an unbelieving generation looks for a sign,” (Mt 12:39, 16:4, Mk 8:11-12, Lk 11:29). It would make sense that faith is required to believe one has been baptized in the Spirit, just as faith is also required in order to receive the Holy Spirit’s baptism. Paul states that tongues causes belief for unbelievers, while prophesy does this for believers (1 Cor 14:22). Since the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Gal 5 are valid, it is logical to conclude that they would only increase at the time of baptism of the Spirit. If laying on of hands by another Believer, who has also received this baptism, precedes a notable increase in the “fruits of the Spirit”, then there is no greater objective standard to negate the validity of what happened as “against such things there is no law,” (Gal 5:23b). Paul does not teach that “good works” are a “fruit of the Spirit”. Good works may be a sign of obedience or some other test, as may tongues or prophecy (knowing God’s Voice) be matters of experience prerequisite to teaching on a subject. But in regards to the Spirit specifically, the fruits of the Spirit listed in Gal 5:22-23, not tongues or prophesy (1 Cor 13:1-2) nor good works (1 Cor 13:3), are not the only, but are the ultimate tests of the Spirit’s presence in the life of a Believer—whether of baptism or daily filling. The greatest of these tests is love (1 Cor 13:13, 1 Jn 4:7-8). Perhaps this understanding of what is, and what is not, ultimate evidence of the Spirit’s presence in particular may calm both sides of many related theological debates.
On the Apparent “Silliness” of a Prayer Language
Isaiah 28:9-11, 1 Cor 1:19,-21, 25-31. We have no idea how silly our native languages often sound to other people. Having worked and studied in language and phonetics, it’s amazing how many languages are phonetically “simple” and seemingly silly from the perspective on a non-native student. The more “silly and simple” a prayer language seems, the more likely I am to think it may be an actual human language used somewhere in the world today.
I once overheard a man in a worship service, praying in a dialectical variety of a known language I happened to have been studying at the time. The man was speaking the same thing in English and in Japanese back and forth, thinking it was a prayer language and not knowing it. Only imagination can guess how often this may happen when we do not know it. Christians overhearing each others’ prayer languages in a controlled, responsible, well-informed, and limited setting could be a partial solution to global evangelism and reaching untapped people groups. Society in Japan, for instance, is currently extremely closed to the gospel. A dialectically-correct message from a foreign speaker may just be the thing that converts the heart of that excessively-spiritual culture. If that man was “silly” or “wrong” for quietly praying where I accidentally overheard him, then evangelizing Japan is equally “silly and wrong.” I don’t say these things to cultivate a “crazy” church culture. Such nonsensical drama on Sunday morning is a reproach on Christianity and should be confronted by leadership. But, given the right set of diligence and decency, I am open to God offending my own sophistication as it helps all of us be delivered from our “stinkin’ thinkin’” and reconciled to our truly wise Maker. Fulfilling the Great Commission will require thinking outside of the box, if for no other reason than that the current buildings (‘boxes’) will be too small to hold all the new Christians. Such change is unstoppable and fast-approaching. We need to be honest about the coming changes and prepare ourselves to get it right this time.
Knowing His Voice starts with Scripture, meditation thereof, and a lifestyle of spending time with the Lord. It doesn’t end there nor does it start with a crazy supernatural character from Star Trek named Q. We MUST know and ingest His Word as much as possible. Romans 12:2 gives us the rout for knowing God’s guidance—renew your mind first.. THEN.. you will know God’s will. Scripture is the beginning of that sequence, just as it was in Joshua 1:8. Obedience is also a factor—and may often seem absurd, 1 Cor 1:18ff. When God leads us, we need a responsible vocabulary so we can discuss that experience in a way that does not risk becoming distracted from His Word. Pentecostals call it the “prophetic” realm, for lack of any better terms, and the best Pentecostal teachings emphasize Mal 4:6 as the model results of God giving us guidance and encouragement to each other (see Elijah Code.) One pastor told me, “With every word of knowledge there often follows a word of wisdom on what to do with it. Most people don’t wait for that wisdom and that creates a lot of problems. When we think we hear something from the Lord, we shouldn’t jump up right away and act. We need to keep listening until the Lord tells us what to do.”
Evangelicals often get concerned about “adding to Scripture” when it comes to God’s daily leading. Again, the solution is not “caution,” but vocabulary. That term “prophetic” may be a concern and respect needs to go both ways between those who use it and those why shy from it. While I appreciate the wise hesitancy many Evangelicals may have to using the word “prophetic” in reference to today, I remind them that the secular counterpart is “psychic.” If we can’t use the word “prophetic” then explaining the dangers of “psychic” experiences to non-Christians will only seem confusing and long-winded. It may be best to simply say, “You don’t want the psychic realm, you want the prophetic realm because that is the testimony of Jesus (Rev 19:10.)” We can’t do that in speaking with non-Christians if we don’t do that in speaking with each other. Moreover, to tell a Psychic, who talks to spirits, that “prophetic” is limited to “preaching” then the impression will be that we are only pretending. In the process of developing such vocabulary, listening to people who use different words to describe their walks with Christ must be done delicately. Among Christians, there is a lot of scolding that is only informed by first impressions. Our “academic diligence” must extend to include “diligently understanding each other.” Expression of friendship with the Lord is dear to the human heart, no matter how imperfect the words may be. We should be open to change and must deliver any correction with utmost care for tenderness and love—and accurate listening.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 explains that a prophet or one who performs signs and wonders shall be put to death if he performs such wonders effectively and leads the people into immorality or to worship other Gods. This is often misunderstood as being a decree to kill a prophet of God who errs in his ability to accurately discern what messages the Lord wants him to deliver. The prophet Nathan was wrong (2 Sam 7:1-17) without reproach, but only plain correction from the Lord. Prophets don’t need to hear perfectly, they merely need to be obedient.
The ultimate purpose of “prophecy” or “knowing God’s Voice” or “leading of the Spirit” or “dreams from God that somehow help our walk with Him” is to fulfill Mal 4:6, Jn 3:17, and Rev 19:10, to give the testimony of Jesus and turn the hearts of people back to each other and toward God, not just be right all the time. Many supposed “prophets” are despised as being “mad prophets” who only condemn with their words, which leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many people toward other forms of the word “prophet.” But many Christians who don’t even believe in modern prophecy have the same condemning attitude and are often labeled “Bible thumpers.” The difference is not in whether we use the word “prophet” or “prophecy,” but in the heart motive: to effectively save the world, not just condemn it in detail. In revelation, offices of Evangelist, Preacher, Pastor, Teacher, and the like are not distinguished, but the only office in reference to any such callings is “Prophet.” Rev 10:10-11 paints a pictorial guide for ministry—when we ingest God’s specific word for us, our hearts ache with the grief of reality, but our words are as sweet as honey to draw people to the abundant life of God.
An argument that the Love Chapter (1 Cor 13) suggests a future expiry of modern prophecy, yet prophecy is still a calling in the last days, yet to be fulfilled, of Rev 10 and 19. According to Rev 19:10, if “prophecy” has ended, then so has the testimony of Jesus. Even then, all parts of the Body of Christ understand the concept that the Lord guides us even today. Then, the real issue in modern prophecy is not whether or not God guides us, but in us developing a vocabulary to describe His contemporary direction. Without intentionally developing proper terms to describe His guidance, inaccurate terms will inevitably be used, as will inaccurate concepts. This means that the author of that vocabulary must be versed in both hearing God’s contemporary guidance accurately as well as proper handling of Scripture. Rules for hearing God’s Voice today cannot be developed on theory, they must stem from Biblical study in the life of someone who operates in that realm. Unfortunately, many people try to walk by either the Bible or by God’s contemporary direction. The problem with this is that God never likes to repeat Himself. We cannot function in this realm effectively if we see the two as parallel messages from God; the Bible came first. Modern guidance is dependent upon the Scriptures and knowledge thereof first. My most favored Pentecostal preachers have said, “Do you want a word from God? <holding up a Bible> I have thousands of them for you right here!” The maxim applies: If you want to know what God’s will is for your life, first learn what God’s will is.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 explains that all Scripture is for every part of everyone’s life for all time. We may not always know how Scripture applies to us, but this does not change the fact that it does apply nonetheless. Modern prophecy, therefore, does not claim to be Scripture, as adding to Scripture is strictly forbidden (Rev 22:18-19). Thus, modern prophecy may be considered to be “particular revelation”, that is, its specific audience is limited, its applicability to that audience is limited, and the time-frame within which it is applicable is also limited. God is allowed to speak to us today without asking us to increase the size of canon.
Calvinism v Arminianism, Lordship v Grace, Etc.
Some aspects debates may be more palatable by understanding the heart-questions behind the opinions. In other ways, the anxiety of the issues can be toned-down by less thinking and more loving and “doing.” This is not to undermine the academic diligence and many key theological points made by each side of such discussions. But I believe that many of the resolutions are not found in more exact parsing of details, but through the issues being eclipsed by something else within the Biblical-Christian framework.
Calvinists, in part, want to believe in a God who is reliable while Arminianists want to know that people will be held accountable for their actions. Lordship often expresses a deep love for obedience to God’s Word while Grace expresses lives that have been, in truth, transformed by forgiveness itself. Discussing those issues with this agenda, rather then theology-systems, is more of an approach a counseling therapist might take. But, let’s be honest—this is a disagreement that long since passed the point where most families or businesses would have hired a mediator. Even then, the results of the disagreement is division among people. Within being Scripturally diligent, few people who ascribe to either position would deny that the other side has at least some good and true Biblical opinions within the discussion. But we are also dealing with people, so, we need to include the relational aspect and try our best to listen to each others hearts. These are both theological-Scriptural issues as well as matters of unity and friendship.
Such topics can often become traps that entangle us in the paralysis of analysis. Scriptural diligence is necessary, but God’s Word must also be meditated-on and not merely parsed and cross-referenced. We need hours in prayer and meditation and in cultivating our relationship with the Lord and time in the field working together, visiting each other’s denominational communities, and in fellowship. We don’t always need to celebrate our differences, but, even if they are wrong, the joy of the Lord should at least empower us to laugh about them some of the time. Treating the details only in terms of collections of systems may be likened to surgery on a corpse. What we need, much of the time, is just, plain, LIFE.
We are ripped-off to think that either the Grace or Lordship of Jesus Christ are about whether or not we are allowed or forbidden to live in spiritual boredom. Obeying Him is something we “get” to do. A Scripturally-transformed mind considers this to be obvious. It’s probably best to leave it at that. Even the most dedicated among Christians can easily get pulled-in to debates that have no effect on furthering the Great Commission. While Scriptural diligence is vital, parsing our differences won’t lead us to Life and Unity—it’s LOVE and MEDITATION on His Word that produces that very necessary transformation.
One-Point Gospel and the Problem of Pain
Substitutionary Atonement (usually in simpler language) summarizes the gospel and is the most effective method for it to be communicated. God’s love for us, our sin, Eternal Life, Christ’s death on the Cross—are all implied or explained in this single point. This is not to say that a homily shouldn’t contain multiple points. Four spiritual laws and the like are good sys-theo redactions, but they miss the masses. I have done evangelism this way with people who slipped-past the four-point approach. People want potent answers that can be understood, not watered-down. Substitutionary Atonement was one of the key ingredients often missing in “pop-heresy” and cult teachings. It’s bold yet simple. It can be communicated without fear and received without anxiety. People can learn it and believe it and thus be more confident and effective in sharing it themselves.
If Jesus “sat in our seat on the bus to hell,” as we might say, then He MUST love us—no matter how many bad things have happened to us. This solves J L Mackie’s “Problem of Evil” by answering a deeper heart-question: What is the proof that God loves me with all this pain in the world? And it proves “Open Theism” to be useless: God foresaw His own death and still created us—it’s hard to have a strong message of love if He can’t foresee His own pain.
Many young people—and people of any age for that matter—are facing difficult issues. Kids, even many from good Christian families, go home and worry about anything from suicide to wondering where dad is, jail time, chronic depression, self-image, pregnancy, homosexuality, and on and on. Basketball outreach may actually repel those who are most interested in the Gospel. If our message has one point and the conclusion is the same as the introduction—Jesus paid YOUR debt—then fewer people might fall asleep and many recent college graduates might return to a gospel that is less mentally constipated.
Faith-Works in a Sequence
W can solve a lot by seeing Faith and Works as being in a sequence (with spiritual disciplines) rather than a “balance of priorities.” This way, Christians are empowered and neither of the good Scriptural arguments on either side of related debates need to be sacrificed. The following is how I explain this in lay terms..
Being a Christian starts with, improves through , and affects the world around us through . This is based on what Jesus did at the Cross: He was punished for our sin.
Here is that process in plain terms:
1. People are redeemed from sin when someone enters into Eternal Life through faith in Jesus Christ because of His finished work on the Cross. This person is what we call a “Christian”.
2. Eternal Life grows inside of us through spiritual disciplines (prayer, quality Bible study, corporate worship, meaningful Christian fellowship.)
3. Eternal Life expands to the world around us through good works (evangelism, charity, morality, etc.)
All of this is made possible because of Christ’s work on the Cross—Jesus was our substitute in taking punishment for our sin.
Christianity is a “core” not a “culture.” Liturgy, terminology, and fashion can exist and change in Christianity, much like we change our socks at the end of the day—we still remain the same person, whereas man-made religion is based on those things.
Salvation is by faith alone in Christ (Gen 15:6; John 20:31).
Meditating on God’s Word leads to obedience, which leads to eventual good results, and we even see some of those results in this present lifetime (Josh 1:8).
Jesus was our “punishment substitute” (1 John 2:2).
Christ’s foundation is built first, then we build on that with our choices (1 Cor 3:11-15).
Learning from Other in the Body of Christ, Taking the Good, Helping Improve the Bad
It’s simple enough and perhaps we just need permission to view it that way. Honestly, with the Charismatic and Pentecostal pastors I’ve spoken with, many of them might be blown-away and open-up if an Evangelical pastor walked into their church and said, “Hey. Let’s be friends. You’ve got the experiences that I don’t have, and, frankly, I spend so much time being academic about the Bible because I don’t have these experiences. Let’s get to know each other, you can show me the experiences and I’ll try to help you explain them, perhaps, a little better.” In my experience, I do think the initiative would need to be on the Evangelicals’ part, and the Charismatic/Pentecostal pastor would need to be interested in more than making a name for himself.. and I think that’s a lot more possible than we might think.
God’s Leading and Assembly
Youth don’t especially seek a fancy, musically-refined worship performance. They want to flow freely in worship, like unplanned time with a group of friends. When the assembly is drenched in a song and wants to keep singing, or one part of a verse happens to be landing at a special place in the heart of those present, it’s okay for them to meditate on the things of Phil 4:8. They want a worship leader who can sense and follow the Lord’s leading for the moment without getting lost or making it a matter of manipulating emotions. Musicians need to practice “agility” in rehearsals, not just memorize the verse-chorus-song order. Teach them to know how to change on cue, yet end within the allotted time, and have the rest of the staff, including the preacher, prepared to respond properly if God initiates a mini revival. The sermon may need to be summarized or even postponed. The worship time may go long, but some people may need “permission” to leave for other commitments. Agility is easier if we prepare ourselves for responding to any scenario. We need “strong flexibility” to keep ourselves prepared for God’s timing.
Post elders and deacons at the front of the isles in case some people are “hearing” guidance from the Lord during worship. Maybe God has an encouragement or a call to repentance for someone specific that day. Give them someone to talk to. Let the deacons share any such messages with the pastor and if God confirms it in their hearts, share it as it is.. “Someone was praying in worship and felt that God may have been saying something. It could be anything, but if it means something to any of you, here is what they were feeling..” Share those kinds of things between worship songs instead of the worship leader feeling he must contrive some edifying statement based-on skill and experience.
Unbridling Passion Among Christian Youth
It can be scary, but so is being young. There are no guarantees, but we can increase our odds of success by encouraging kids to have guts in their love for Jesus. The worship they want may be more emotional than older generations were “comfortable” with. That’s because of their passion for Jesus. If clergy interrupt that passion, young people will either give up on Christ or seek Him elsewhere. We preach about “radical obedience,” but are we prepared when youth are so teachable that their response makes us feel intimidated? In those moments, leaders must permit the youthful abandonment to Christ to be an inspiration, not a threat. Be like grandpa, enjoy it, love it, guide it, inform it, and put up a gate so the kids don’t fall down the stairs. Kids are made of rubber anyways, so they can live and learn. They want to LIVE—let them or they will LEAVE.