Since the Welsh Revival, the Asuza Street Revival, and several others at the roots of the Pentecostal tradition at the turn of the 20th century, the formation of Pentecostals has always been in community: in the people of God gathering. There is very little of the strangely-warmed heart experiencing God’s love under the gate, or the voice of a child over the wall encouraging you to read Scripture.
Sure, evangelical influence has encouraged individual devotion through Scripture and prayer, but that’s a good adjustment. But our greatest moments of formation and catechesis and growth as disciples of Jesus in the Pentecostal movement is when we get together. It’s where we heard the Gospel. Where we got baptized. Where we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. Where we washed each other’s feet. Where we were healed, prophesied over, delivered, released into ministry, and witness to so many works of the Holy Spirit.
As a brother of the Charismatic Fraternity of Sacred Ministers, we’re at a place of recovering this aspect of our tradition in order to enable us to engage and grow in the Great Tradition. Pentecostal ministers in any number of traditions– Pentecostal, Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, you name I–can read up and learn from the Tradition, but we don’t really get it until we’ve moved into it together, and we’ve let the Holy Spirit set it on fire. So with our churches…unless we do ancient Christian formation as a congregation, it will never be our own.
So commit to it in community. If you’re a minister or seminarian, join the CFSM and be part of our upcoming weekly conversations. If you’re an intercessor or pastor, gather a small group around you. There’s a simple rule of life that will enable you to step together into the wealth of what our Christian forefathers and foremothers brought together for us. Just leave a comment or contact me and I’ll get that over to you. If you’re independent, get in relationship with the Church catholic. We all need each other and Jesus prayed, died, rose, and now always intercedes to make us one.
I’m a church planter by practice and pretense (depending on the day, as few of us pull off wearing that hat non-stop). Church planting is by nature an interesting animal. It has that “new car” or “new book” smell all over it. And it’s tempting, because of that, for folks to walk into a church planting effort and expect that everything will be brand new–a church as fresh as the day of Pentecost.
Well, sort of. New works involve lots of Pentecost-type things: reaching out, sharing Jesus, baptizing everybody, and figuring out what it looks like to disciple and to gather for worship. They have a lot of the same growing pains that the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul bear witness to, as well. There are leadership questions, and cultural challenges, and discipleship gaps and experiments.
But that’s not all. Church plants have DNA–they have parents, friends, and bickering cousins who all have an opinion on the shape of things. In other words, there is tradition to take note of. For Pentecostals ministering in the Anglican Church or others in the catholic tradition, this isn’t a negative thing at all. As it’s been noted many times, tradition is a life-giving thing in Pentecostal discipleship.
But what does that look like in church planting? Tradition is what we are passing on in discipleship. Tradition maps out how we follow Jesus together. So, for an Anglican like myself, what that looks like includes:
- When sharing stories and other texts from Scripture, the point of every single one is to reveal Jesus (Christological reading)
- We pray together corporately, even the kids outreach has us reciting corporate prayer.
- We make use of liturgical prayer. For example, baptism candidates will receive a small booklet including daily prayers derived from the family offices from the prayerbook.
- We value the church year–Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are especially highlighted in our children’s outreach, and I hope they will be an influence in our small groups as well.
So, yes, tradition provides hands-on discipleship for life in the Spirit as we are all attempting to follow Jesus together. Practice it personally and embrace it’s application in ministry–especially in new ministry like church planting.
So there may be some confusion as to why I started with the Lord’s Supper. In the “order” of sacraments, baptism should be first in our experience of the Kingdom of God. It’s why I “held back” from Communion until I could be baptized. But when we’re dealing with a Pentecostal approach to the sacraments, we also have to recognize that to shake the assumptions that have often invaded from our evangelical friends (that it’s “just symbolic”), it helps if we first recognize Jesus’ presence in the Lord’s Supper before we tackle Baptism. In the interest of full disclosure here, I’m going to argue something that few Pentecostals will–at first–accept as valid, but if we are consistent in our baptismal theology, it’s where we end up. (more…)
So it’s a little bit of a long word, but catechesis is a historic part of Christian faith. It’s how we pass on the faith to the next generation, entrusting the Gospel to them, and bring people into the way that we live it out. Thanks to some great classes, I’ve had the chance to think about it a lot lately, and to read about it (Pentecostal Formation by Cheryl Bridges Johns is a recommended title). Here are some of my thoughts (if it sounds like a formal paper or presentation…it is), but I’d love to hear what people think should be the practices in Pentecostal catechesis. (more…)
Nope, not writing in tongues there, but I will give an interpretation of that title: “the law of praying, the law of believing.” It’s a Latin shorthand to back up the conviction among many streams of Christianity that how we worship instructs and reinforces what we believe. If you want to change the way a congregation believes, don’t go after the statement of faith, change the content and order of worship. It’s pretty practical, and on some level, just plain common sense. But on another level… (more…)
In the past week, I’ve had my heart broken several times. Not through anything said or done to me, but no one who experiences the love of God expressed in Jesus’ work on the cross can help but love the Church. And when the Church fails (she does), it hurts. This week I’ve seen people who will only baptize with a profession of faith suggest they can’t have a full partnership with those who baptize the children of believers. I’ve seen Calvinists say they can’t have full partnership with Arminians, Amyraldians, “modified Calvinists”, or Wesleyans. I’ve seen complementarians and egalitarians both say they can’t have full partnership with one another. And the worst thing is…none of those issues actually has to do with the Good News about Jesus. (more…)
So I’ve not written anything for awhile. That’s because I’ve been reading…a lot. In the last six months, I’ve read two works composed of Smith Wigglesworth’s sermons, several essays and pieces by Bp. Lesslie Newbigin, Concerning Spiritual Gifts by Donald Gee, and have been working through Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies: a Reader. (more…)