In August 2019, I co-chaired the 25th Pentecostal World Conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with the theme "Spirit Now." A key aspect of this conference was to have a listening ear to what the Spirit is saying to the global church in these days. In the New Testament, we see that having "ears to hear" what the Spirit is saying regarding the future trajectory of the life of the church is primarily a corporate responsibility and exercise. While individuals, including prophetically gifted leaders, have a key responsibility to fulfill, it is as the listening body of Christ that we respond to the Spirit's call.
We see the tension of law and grace, privilege and bigotry in the first church being addressed by a called coalition of leaders who provided future direction based on what "seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28a). When the Spirit desires to bring affirmation, correction and future direction to seven churches in Asia Minor, the apostle John shares the Revelation of Jesus and the Lord's message to the church's messengers. They in turn are responsible for the entire church to receive the vision of revelation and the message from the Spirit that they are to hear and to respond to together. To seven churches, the expected response is given seven times: "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
At the conference, we intentionally chronicled what was being communicated in each plenary, affinity and forum session and then discerned the main themes the Spirit addressed. We titled the summary communique "The Calgary Call" (read it in full at bit.ly/calgarycall). The call, presented at the end of the conference, was endorsed by the conference's Host Committee. The Spirit spoke clearly to us about the expected future trajectory of these five areas, and we envision them being prioritized in the global Pentecostal/charismatic church into the future.
First, we heard the Spirit's call to greater unity as an intergenerational and culturally diverse family. Our shared experience in the Spirit should bring together all generations and cultures. Yet, as is so painfully obvious within the Spirit-empowered global community, the message of Jesus and the work of the Spirit are hindered by both subtle and overt divisions. The trajectory of the global church is for a wave of fearless, primarily younger leaders who will unreservedly commit to respond to the prayer of Jesus to be brought to complete unity so that the world will know that the Father has sent Him. Spiritual heritage will be honored but will not be a barrier for our sons and daughters to experience broader relationships within the greater family of God.
Second, we heard the Spirit's call to anticipate and engage with the fresh ways the Spirit is working in our world. There is an ever-increasing hunger for a refreshing wave of the Spirit that will reveal Jesus to the world as it is happening today in our various contexts. This involves going beyond being exclusively first wave (classical Pentecostals), second wave (charismatic) or third wave (new expression) persons of the Spirit. The trajectory of the global church is to experience the fullness of the Spirit by participating in a fresh wave of the Spirit's work that reveals Jesus every day in a naturally supernatural manner and builds on everything experienced before.
Third, we heard the Spirit's call to a greater engagement with and obedience to God's Word, and a greater commitment to lives of prayer. We believe for an ever-increasing engagement with the Scriptures and deeper intimacy with the Father that will shape our spiritual character and safeguard our integrity. We were strongly reminded by the Spirit that character is of greater value than charisma.
Fourth, we heard the Spirit's call to intentionally participate together in the mission of God in power and love. The gospel of Christ will continue to powerfully transform individuals, families and communities in every nation. In global mission, this will include even greater dimensions of genuine partnership with every nation being both sending and receiving nations.
Finally, we heard the Spirit's call to a greater commitment to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing times of trial and persecution.Increased awareness with calls for seasons of prayer and expressions of love in action will demonstrate that we have heard the Spirit's cry on behalf of the Lord's oppressed children.
As "The Calgary Call" communicates, we genuinely sensed that we, together, heard what the Spirit is saying to the global Pentecostal/charismatic church. We commit to being faithful to what we have heard, and to intentionally moving forward together until Jesus returns. "Maranatha!"
Rev. David R. Wells, M.A., D.D., is the general superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, vice-chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship (PWF) and secretary of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA).
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