I came across this on David Fitch’s blog, Reclaiming the Mission, and it seemed incredibly relevant to my experience in the Church.
Jason worshiped with a church in the city that I had recommended to him. He came back to me and said, “The church seemed dead. We were left wondering – where’s the Holy Spirit?” Ouch. I wondered if he was right or if he simply wasn’t acclimated to the absence of emotionalism and hype. I wondered if his assessment had more to do with the kinds of prayers that were being prayed and songs being sung, than spiritual deadness.
Another church is asking the same question of themselves. A pastor said, “We need more Holy Spirit here – more signs and wonders and hearts that break for the lost.”
What makes me feel uncomfortable about these Holy Spirit conversations? Defensiveness? Perhaps.
But mostly it has to do with two assumptions we make:
We know how to evaluate whether the Holy Spirit is present or not.
We can control whether the Holy Spirit is present or not.
Signs the Holy Spirit has “Left the Building”
1. The danger with the first assumption (that we can evaluate the Spirit’s presence) is that we make the things that we already value to be the markers of the Holy Spirit’s activity. For example, the Corinthians valued eloquent speech – so those who could speak eloquently were then seen as more Spirit-filled. The evaluation of where, through whom, and in what activities the Spirit was present in Corinth led to comparison and divisiveness.
If a community starts evaluating and comparing who is more spiritual or what activities are more spiritual than others, then the Spirit may have left the building. (that should be read with a Jeff Foxworthy drawl) We can still point to Holy Spirit activity but mostly in hindsight and even then only partially. This kind of witness to the Holy Spirit in our lives is descriptive (unity, holiness, signs, peaceableness, order, love, repentance/sorrow, wisdom, Gal. 5:23 fruit), not prescriptive. This is demonstrated by experience – often I do not recognize the Holy Spirit’s work or activity in my life in the moment. Only looking back do I see his fingerprints – often where I least would have expected.
Read the rest if this post here:
And while I’m at Reclaiming the Mission, here’s another good post: The Church Gathering Should Be Like a Good AA Meeting.