Today, I was having a discussion about a man that went through Teen Challenge and it became a discussion about accountability. As the discussion went on, it became clear that at least one of the people involved has bought into the greatest threat to the Assemblies of God (and Pentecostalism at large). Seeker sensitivity is killing our churches.
Seeker sensitive churches are all over the place and they are not just the big ones that do not allow the gospel to be preached like Lakewood Church in Houston. There are many rural churches that are caught up in this spiritual avalanche of praising unregenerate souls and caring more about social elements of ekklesia than the spiritual reality of living in the Pneuma. It has nothing to do with size of the church to be honest.
How this got started was pastors started looking at these list of the fastest growing churches and buying every book they put out about how they did it. They tried to apply the lessons learned to grow their church just like they read John Osteen and Tommy Barnett did it.
These days everyone wants to be Hillsongs and Bethel Redding. There is a much better concern about how many butts they can put in their seats then how many missionaries they can send. I am far more interested in a church’s sending capacity than its seating capacity.
Dealing with the poison
It was shortly after finishing bible college. I went to church and all I hear was community and fellowship stuff. It was all about theologians call koinonia. This is the social element to the church or in Pentecostal terms, the Assembly. It was about being “in healthy relationships.” To be honest, I walked out the door of a growing church in Springfield, Missouri thinking that everything the pastor believed was horizontal and none of it was vertical.
It led me to just quit going to church for a year all together. I would spend my Sunday morning with my bible and praying in tongues for four hours on my porch. I wanted a vertical relationship filled with tongues with interpretation, prophecy, healing and revival. None of this was happening at the “Pentecostal megachurch” I was attending.
When I went back to the Assembly because after all, they were trying to make me feel guilty using “forsake the assembly of the saints,” nothing was different. The same “relational ministry” emphasis was there and there was a complete void of miracles at the altar. Church services were reduced to being a marriage and parent seminar once a week.
I refused to be a Pharisee and just go to service for the sake of religious duty and pretend I believed in the “touching heaven and changing the community” stuff the church was pushing. Bible College graduate or not, I was not going to give the appearance that I was pleased with the lack of spirituality in the Assembly….. with big crowds or not.
This was the first time in my life that I was not connected to some type of revival based ministry. I missed the days of the Brownsville Revival in this season and I was not part of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I was in Springfield but I was having a wilderness experience just like Jesus had.
Keep the flame burning
In Lev. 6, there is the commands about the burnt offering. I believe there is something prophetic in the passage that is directly related to the state of the Spiritless Pentecostal movement. There is a reason that Moses told them at least three times in five verses to keep the fire on the altar going.
One thing that really stands out to me is that priests (spiritual leaders) had to go to the altar on a regular basis (how often we are not quite sure) and remove the ashes from the fire that burned on. Those ashes were once part of the flame that was burning but was no longer.
Do I believe that many of these seeker sensitive churches that are the greatest poison in the Pentecostal movement were once fiery witness of the Spirit to their areas? In most cases. Do I think they saw great works of God happen in their ranks in the early years? I do. Somewhere along the way, the church leaders replace miracles with methods and the prophetic with practices. They were once lamp stands that had burned out.
The prophetic message from the Lord is clear to the churches: May the fire on the altar never go out! I can not think of anything more important right now than a clarion call back to living in the reality of Pneuma. Majority of my discussions with believers over the last year has been centered around this one truth: we need the today’s flame burning, not the ashes from yesterday’s flame.
Offense of Pastors
It is odd but the biggest critics of a message about revival and keeping the flame burning is from pastors. Without question, the majority of the critics of Azusa Report is people with offices in churches across America. The homeless, the drug addicts, the prostitutes don’t debate us. They want the flame of the Spirit to burn up their addictions. It is pastors who beat their chest fighting me on the call to Holy Ghost revival.
Sometimes, I wonder how pastors, even Pentecostal pastors, will respond when the end time revival starts. What will they say when they hear about the stadiums being filled with hungry people and the gospel is being proclaimed by a nameless and faceless generation of forerunners like John the Baptist? Will they humble themselves or miss the greatest revival in the history of Christianity.
Either way, we will the great outpouring since the Apostolic age happen at the very end and it will only be stopped by the catching up of the saints and the resurrection of the dead. I fear that many pastors will go in the rapture with their arms folded and looking down their nose at Stadium Christianity.
I pray I am wrong.