Confusing Charismatic with Contemporary or Missional ministry

I have a passion to see churches minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. I draw a lot of strength from the ministries of John Wimber and the Vineyard, the New Wine network of churches and HTB and the Alpha Course. In our city of Sydney though there seems to be a confusion about, and suspicion of what exactly charismatic is. Just the other day a friend told me about how their church was on the more charismatic end of their denomination. All he could point to though was occasional raising of hands in worship and contemporary music. While that is a fantastic thing, it is not to be confused with charismatic expressions of church and ministry.

Before I get to what I believe is the difference between charismatic and contemporary, let me state why I believe it is so important that the church moves more effectively in the power of the Holy Spirit. This was the source and type of Jesus’ ministry. While it is great that some churches want to be missional by being involved in sports clubs and schools and so on… to be truly missional is to do the ministry of Jesus like Jesus. For him this was proclaiming the kingdom through preaching, healing, casting out evil and doing miracles. We also need to be charismatic because this is how the early church was commissioned and acted in the first century. They continued the ACTS of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit throughout the world. Finally we must seek the power of the ministry of the Holy Spirit because I believe that is the truest expression of ministry today. While I affirm social justice and missional ministry, the stuff that I truly believe changes our communities and lives is seeing the ministry of Jesus happening today through his church.

On Tuesday night at Alpha a young guy from a Buddhist background had a strong experience of the Holy Spirit during the ministry time after a talk on healing. His question to me afterwards was how do I become a Christian? It was the power of the Spirit at work in him that is leading him towards wanting to follow Christ. What a joy to give him a bible and begin the walk of faith with him!

So here is just two common confusions between what is contemporary and missional and what is charismatic?

– A Christian befriending a person or community group is being missional… praying for them for healing or having a word of knowledge that leads to evangelism is charismatic.

– Waving your hands in the air to a modern worship band is contemporary… experiencing the power of his presence or being filled with His peace in worship is charismatic.

None of this is to downplay the importance of a whole range of ministries and ways of reaching out or being the church. My passion though is that we will be a body of believers who take the continuing ministry of Jesus, powered by His Holy Spirit seriously. We are to be lovers of his presences, seekers of his power and servants of his gospel – for the sake of the coming of His kingdom and the redemption of the world.

What do you think?

Seeking Jesus’ Ministry of Healing

I have just been speaking to a friend of mine from bible college days about the healing he received on coming back to church in 1992. The meeting was being held in a pub and after the Pastor received a word of knowledge about my friends need for healing, he went forward. His left arm which was shorter began to grow over an inch and a half over the next 5-10 minutes. The Jesus he had known many years before had just moved in power in a way he did not expect.

There is lot’s about healing that I do not understand. Good Christian friends who pray for healing who do not get healed. Great Christian leaders who God has used to heal other people who do not get healed themselves. And yet healing was such an integral part of Jesus message and mission, with the expectation that it would continue into the life of the church – that I know we must pursue this gift of God in our lives and churches!

John Wimber used to say, pray for no one and no one gets healed, pray for everyone and some get healed! So we orient ourselves towards the promises and ministry of Jesus and seek the healing that is a part of his in-breaking kingdom. Of course the Christian hope is a future reality in which God will restore his creation, and his people will be fully healed and refreshed. But Jesus makes this future possible now.

The ministry of Jesus brought this future reality into the now – that is why he announced the kingdom of God was here in his ministry. That is why we are to pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done.”. That is why he sent his disciples to “Heal the sick who are there and tell them the Kingdom of God is near you!” It is why the first disciples after they were filled with the Holy Spirit began to do the works of healing that Jesus had done. It is why the early churches were told by James, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” The kingdom of God is powerful to heal. It is a sign that there is a different reality breaking in that speaks of the love and goodness of God.

This Sunday we will be exploring the healing ministry of Jesus and then we will ask the Holy Spirit to come. I expect all to be touched in some way by presence of God. It is still a broken world, it is still a future hope, it is still an age where sickness is a part of our lives. But we seek every little touch where that future reality of total healing breaks into the now! It is good news!

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