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I’d rather invest in a few emerging leaders than preach to crowds of thousands. Here’s why.
Once when I was traveling in India a pastor made a tempting proposal. “If you come to our city, we will stage a big evangelistic campaign and invite thousands,” he said. “You can preach to all of them.” This man assumed I would be intrigued. After all, I could take photos of the big crowds and use them to brag later about how many people made decisions for Christ.
I didn’t accept the offer. Instead I gave the man a second option. “Let me spend three days with a small group of pastors,” I said. “Let me encourage them, and then they can go out and preach at the big meetings. They will do a much better job than I could.” read more
Pentecost’s power is more than wind, fire and supernatural hoopla. Without love it is just noise.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Pentecostal”?
A. · · A woman with a beehive hairdo, support hose, Granny
shoes and no makeup?
B. · · Someone rolling on the floor while speaking in tongues uncontrollably?
C. · · A slick-haired televangelist in a white suit who begs for donations?
D. · · A sour-faced Christian who looks like he just sucked all the juice out of a lemon?
E.···· A sincere Christian who passionately loves God and people and believes in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit?
I wish we all could answer E., but we Pentecostals have an image problem. I’m not ashamed of the word itself, but I don’t use it as a label because the bad stereotypes (A., B., C. and D.) have just about ruined it for the rest of us. Many people associate Pentecostals with dry legalism, fanaticism, charlatanism and downright hatefulness. read more
In the days leading up to the Global Day of Prayer, let’s bombard heaven on behalf of the United States.
Twelve years ago a South African businessman, Graham Power, felt God nudge him to organize a prayer gathering in the city of Cape Town. About 45,000 Christians responded to the call by jamming into a rugby stadium in March 2001 to intercede for their nation.
That was the beginning of the Global Day of Prayer, an event that will likely involve millions of Christians in 220 nations on Pentecost Sunday, May 27. This year organizers are encouraging people to extend their prayers for 10 days prior to the event, beginning on May 17. They are also urging pastors to fuel the prayer with sermons about the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s power. read more
Reclaiming the process of discipleship will require a total overhaul of how we do church.
I get funny looks from some charismatic Christians when I tell them I believe God is calling us back to radical discipleship. Those in the over-50 crowd—people who lived through the charismatic movement of the 1970s—are likely to have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to the dreaded “D word.”
That’s because the so-called Discipleship Movement (also known as the Shepherding Movement) turned a vital biblical principle into a weapon and abused people with it. Churches that embraced the warped doctrines of shepherding required believers to get permission from their pastors before they bought cars, got pregnant or moved to a new city. Immature leaders became dictators, church members became their loyal minions, and the Holy Spirit’s fire was snuffed out because of a pervasive spirit of control. read more
The Lord wants to unleash a gushing river of new wine into the church today, but we must leave some things behind.
A woman from Orlando, Fla., was in the news last month because she decided to retire from driving her 1964 Mercury Comet. Rachel Veitch, who is 93, bought the car new for $3,300 when gasoline cost 29 cents a gallon. Today the light yellow car, which Veitch calls “Chariot,” has 567,000 miles on it.
That’s great news for Veitch—who will probably get $44,000 for the antique car because she took such good care of it. But whoever buys it will either store it in a fancy garage or display it at an auto show. There are not too many miles left on this relic of the past. read more
Trayvon Martin was not a criminal because he was black and wearing a hoodie. And I’m not a racist because I’m white.
We will have to wait months to find out how jurors in Florida will rule in the Trayvon Martin case. Did his accused assailant, George Zimmerman, act in self-defense when he shot the unarmed boy? Or did Zimmerman kill Martin because he just assumed any young black man walking through a gated neighborhood wearing a hoodie is a dangerous criminal?
Trayvon’s case should cause all of us to check our hearts. We’ve all been guilty of making unfair judgments. Many of us stereotype people unconsciously. read more
Technology has connected us superficially. But the Holy Spirit can knit us together supernaturally.
Two weeks ago I attended a men’s retreat in Georgia with some of my closest friends. Chris, Eddie, Rick, Michael, Ray, Robert, Medad, Quentin and James were in the audience with 120 other guys. We spent 2 1/2 days together—worshipping, attending teaching sessions, praying in small groups and eating our meals together. Nobody wanted to go home. It felt like heaven because we enjoyed being together so much. read more
I love it when the Holy Spirit moves in a church service. But I also know there’s a fine line between charismatic and charismaniac. Too often, those of us who love spiritual gifts get carried away—and before too long things get strange. What is supernatural turns weird, and what is prophetic becomes pathetic.
This is not a new problem. Two chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians are devoted to this dilemma. Even in the first century, people misused charismatic gifts to get attention. The abuse of speaking in tongues created pandemonium, and the lack of order invited an apostolic rebuke. read more