Awkward Continuationist

I was there when this album was recorded, oh-so-many years ago. It wasn’t the first time I’d been to something “Vineyard,” but it was the first extended (four day) time of enjoying worship and workshops.

It was a high water mark in my spiritual journey up to that point. And it was also directly connected to getting fired by my church shortly after. But that’s a story best left in the past, where it belongs.

Ironically, my termination confirmed a corollary to something John Wimber had written a few years earlier:

Many [people] were not offended by the theory of divine healing; it was the practice of healing prayer that offended them (Power Healing, pg 49, emphasis in original).”

The corollary, in this case, was the difference between believing the gifts of the Spirit are available today (which they did), and the practice of them (which they rejected). Long story short: attending the Worship Festival will always be a fond memory in my spiritual life. 

When Wendy and I were dating/engaged, we attended a charismatic church near our Bible college. The preaching made us cringe at times (too much out-of-context proof-texting), but we enjoyed the worship and our newfound friends’ joyful zeal. We spent hours with them in local coffeeshops and pizzerias, discussing what we loved about the worship and debating the sermon content.

And at some point, Wendy and I gave voice to The Dream: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a church with the evangelicals’ exegetical teaching and an openness to the charismata of the Spirit?”

Required reading at our Bible college included George Mallones Furnace of Renewal and Those Controversial Gifts, as well as Michael Green’s To Corinth, With Love and I Believe in the Holy Spirit. Mallone and Green’s writings gave us hope that it was possible to be evangelical in belief and charismatic in practice, without compromising sound theology or quenching the Spirit.

So in retrospect, the Worship Festival hosted by the Langley Vineyard was just another step in a journey that had begun years earlier.

Continuationist gets “awkward” because the radical middle – evangelical + charismatic – is a hard balance to find, and harder still to maintain. And 100% worth pursuing.

So, call me an “awkward continuationist.” All of the charismata are alive and well and needed today — and theology and sound doctrine matters, big time.

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