Hi my name is Jackson and I am a Charismatic Christian… Why do I hesitate to admit that to the internet? I think its cause I know there are a lot of well meaning, yet challenging to deal with people, who would introduce themselves with a similar sentence. I think that perhaps that phrase is associated at times with people who refuse to use their brain and throw out all logic, who ignore social cues and press their preachy agenda. I think i am hesitant because I have seen SO much weirdness associated with this “movement,” that numerous times I have felt the strong pull to disengage from it and disassociate with it. I think maybe because of the amount of hurt, pain, heartbreak, and misunderstandings that goes along with it all, is at times the elephant in the room. Thats why I hesitate to admit it.
Here is why I will admit it. I admit it, and I won’t apologize for it, and I am comfortable in, and even confident in the stream in the body of Christ that I find myself in today.
1. I Don’t Feel Compelled to Change Anyones Mind.
A number of weeks ago, I had coffee with a Franciscan monk, we had a great time of asking questions and getting to know better one another’s traditions. He didn't try to convert me to Catholicism, and I did not attempt to tell him that he “needed to be filled with the spirit!” I think it would be fair to say that we walked away from that time with a deeper mutual respect for one another, but also for ourselves and the traditions that we are both a part of. I feel compelled as a pastor to point people to Christ. I feel compelled as a pastor to encourage people to a life formed into the image of Christ. Challenging people to a life of prayer, a life of service, to be open to miracles and the supernatural are all a part of what I feel my job is. I feel compelled to pray for the sick, to lay hands and believe the Holy Spirit to fill lives, and change hearts and move powerfully. I feel compelled to these things because I read them in the scriptures, yes from my worldview, yes from my perspective. I will add this, I am totally okay with that, and I believe it is what I am called too. I will tell you why:
2. Disfunction Can be Found Anywhere.
I know that there is disfunction in charismatic churches and among charismatic leaders. I know that there are issues of control, manipulation, bad character, and bad mindsets and just plain old evil stuff. Guess what, that happens in every denomination. The Orthodox Church, the Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, all of them, have places that they aren't very happy about, we all have as movements stories that we hope don't get out. I promise you that. The reason for this, is that human beings are involved, and none of us are perfect.
Recently this Azusa Now, thing was blowing up my newsfeed, as perhaps it was yours. In case you didn't know the Pentecostal Movement, which classically has been identified with the Azusa Street Revival, is said to have been sparked by those meetings that began 110 years ago. I know all too well the criticisms of some of the leaders that I saw on the stage at Azusa Now. I know all too well know the unfortunate scenarios where people have been deeply hurt by some of “those” ministries and ministries like them. Theses Ministries you may love or you may hate, but I remind you, they are still brothers and sisters regardless of your or my hurt, pain or bitterness.
I further believe that some people may need to walk away from some movements. Thats fine! What I want to know is, where are you finding community, where are you growing in your faith? Its sad to me when people walk away from one stream of the church, and never dip their toes in to find another, because of hurt. You will never heal if you stay in solitude exclusively, you need people around you that challenge you, and encourage you. If one stream after drinking from it has left a bitter taste in your mouth, I hope that you continue to search for a place that is Christ Centred where your thirst can be quenched. The beauty of the Azusa Meetings to me, is that racial barriers, religious barriers, cultural barriers where shattered in pursuit of encountering God. None of it mattered because the common hunger was for the presence of God.
My prayer is that as there are more conversations had, probably more than ever before between different movements, that the scapegoat of criticism that really does just divide the church would stop. That, that scapegoating, would shrink to a dull roar, and we would unite in the love of God. That we could celebrate our common ground; Christ, and Him crucified. Grace and Peace.
Jackson is a passionate follower of Jesus. A husband, father of 3, church planter and pastor. He is passionate at pointing people to Jesus, and his life vision statement is; “To show and tell the world how beautiful, and how good Jesus Christ really is.” He is the lead pastor at ‘The Church at South Edmonton’ in Edmonton Alberta Canada.
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