| What are the characteristics of a Holy Spirit filled church?|
Churches across the land have various styles of worship and the majority of traditions tend to worship in a subdued atmosphere while a fraction tend to be more noisy.
My thoughts on this is a Holy Spirit filled church should look like something out of the book of Acts. Characteristics I see are people repenting and being baptized. People being baptized with the Holy Spirit with some speaking in other tongues. Signs and wonders happening (when needed). I should put scripture references to these but I feel a bit lazy at the moment. Simply going by memory and if I am wrong in any please bring it to my attention. I am not an island to myself though sometimes I want to be.
I often wonder if the churches we have are Holy Spirit filled.
What are your thoughts according to the scriptures?
| 2014/10/26 17:48||Profile|
| Re: What are the characteristics of a Holy Spirit filled church?|
I am hearing this expression called spirit filled church for the first time! A Church where God is present as a spirit is possible but not spirit filled Church. Church is actually a body of Believers. When 2 or more believers gather in Jesus name a Church is formed and Jesus is present in their midst. If Jesus is not present then there is something wrong, may be the believers are gathering to have a good sunday morning time but certainly not to glorify Jesus.
If a Church is made up of Spirit filled witness then it is not the external manifestation that will identify it. It is the presence of few evangelists, few prophets, few teachers, an apostle, few with gifts of healing, all with attitude to help the Church for day today activites and finally some with toungues and interpretation. These gifted believers will not be visible by external manifestation but they do their work hidden, there will be healing, evagelism etc happening without any advertisement.
Some who come to our Church claim that we do not encourage evagelism and stess only disciplship. But how can a Church grow without evangelism? The fact that the Church has grown to a substantial number is proof of the presence of evangelists. It is only that we do it as personal evangelism without advertising. But those who expect some Chinese method of everyone standing in streets to preach(which is unscriptural) will not find our Church exciting. Those who come from penetcostal background will complain that no healing is happening, but the turth is we do not advertise the healing. We do it like how Jesus did, in secret.
To summerize if one keep looking for external manifestation like how it is written in Acts then they are sure to fall into a Church full of mockers who are mocking the manifestation for personal gain.
| 2014/10/27 4:37||Profile|
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For all of our talk of Spirit, for all of our talk of liberty, for all of our looking downward at formalism, we who say we are Pentecostal are slaves to form.
We pursue a form of what we call godliness that focuses on external manifestations. And, honestly, the only manifestations we muster are imitations of others and forced notions of praise and worship. I long for a true pentecost, with or without the laundry list of "signs". I long for a true pentecost of repentance first. I long for the real pentecost that unhinges us from our ties to the world's ways and abandons self interest in favor of the benefits to my Christian family, in favor of winning the lost.
I do not know what a "Spirit filled church" is, really. I get the gist, but I am tired of chasing shadows and boxing windmills. I long for the reality in Christ of Spirit filled living and gospel obedience and brotherly love.
This is the life my wife and I have now seen that God calls us to. It is also stirring up so much talk in our local church that we are being called spiritually arrogant and rebellious just for quietly opening our home and saying " we want to win and mature people in Christ". I feel like Alice in Wonderland, but it is like everyone else but us swallowed the colored pill. With all of this, we are being told what real pentecost is. Wanna know?
According to my pastor, it is doing what he says. "I am not the pastor of some of you because you won't do what I ask." This statement last Sunday morning in his most recent message on being a "Pentecostal Community". What has he asked anyone to do? He asked me to be an elder, which for him means doing pastoral care and having recreation related small groups. Seriously. He said that he wants us to meet and have fun and win people to church. I never answered the request except to say I would pray about it.
I have served as an elder before in another local church. It is serious. I know what it is to trifle, and I am not doing it for seeker sensitive churches and not for in-form, forced-mockingbird-manifestation pentecostal churches. I cannot, in all good conscience, call what he seeks to do as biblical eldership, and he cannot defend what he wants except to say "the Lord showed me" which is his go to for everything. His wife asked my wife to go on a women's trip that happens each November, and she has gone two or three times before, only to see what my wife describes as silliness and gossip and hyper emotional women who are catty and demeaning and are just there for the "worship high." This year, my wife said, "I am not going because I have to work and it is not a helpful meeting and my husband does not want me to go and I do not want to waste my leave on something like this." Oh, yes -- the pastor's wife is also the "praise and worship" leader, and browbeats everyone on Sundays for not raising hands and being demonstrative (she has called us arrogant for it) as she wants us to be; the pastor has twice recently told us we need to come in and "lose your minds" in praise and worship. Last Sunday night, the pastor's wife preached for him (he was ill) and had an altar call that urged "get your ends up here".
Is this Pentecost? No. Is this a "Spirit filled church?" No. Pentecostals are no less motivated by the flesh than any other true believers and we are guilty of being MORE fleshly than some who are struggling openly with faith and the flesh...except we sanctify our struggle as martyrdom or as blindness and legalism when others do not drop into lock step.
When you find a "Spirit filled church" send them a thank you note. Until then, let us each one pursue Christ in love and truth and let us obediently consider others in the church better than ourselves.
| 2014/10/27 9:29||Profile|
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What is characteristic of a Spirit filled church?
Answer - Spirit filled persons!
However there is a huge lack of Holy Spirit filled believers today in the same way we read of people like Stephen and Phillip in the book of Acts. Yes believers have the indwelling Spirit, but being full of the Spirit?.....that's a completely different thing!
To be full of the Spirit is to be empty of self. If you find a church where the majority are like that, then you can say it is Spirit filled.
| 2014/10/27 9:43||Profile|
Campbell River, B.C.
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Sure would be nice to have a good church to go to, or even one christian friend... every time I try to go to any church in the small town I live in, the empty feeling is unbearable, the sermon is dry and lifeless, the worship is a total flatline, and there are no saved people I have met. When I seek fellowship with anyone, I try to bring up things like the manifest presence of God, and all I get are puzzled looks and blank stares. One person I know even thinks God has said it is okay to steal another man's wife. Other people light up cigarettes and joints after the service (the joints aren't lit up until they are safely away from the church, of course). Some people I work with have gone to church their whole lives and can't even tell me what salvation is. This is getting incredibly depressing, to put it mildly.
| 2014/10/27 13:24||Profile|
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I feel the frustration of both Dolfan and Drifter. It truly is a sad situation.
When the body is disconnected from the head where the life should come from, then all that is left is a corpse. This can be true of any church or small gathering. Without the life that comes from being rightly connected to the head all sorts of things will be done to try and animate that dead body. They pump it up with laughing gas and mechanically cause the limbs to move in an effort to reproduce that which once came as a natural result of divine life flowing through the body. They even stick another head on top that has no right to be there!
May God help us and have mercy on us for this. Just changing the format or copying the early church structure will not help. Only as each one of us seeks to be filled with the true Spirit of God, submitted to Christ and allowing His life to overflow in and out of us will there be any true Spirit filled church.
That said I don't think there is such a thing as a Spirit filled church, just a church that has people full of the Holy Spirit.....and it starts with me and you!
| 2014/10/27 14:01||Profile|
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They say when you start talking to yourself, it is a sign of insanity. Well, maybe so.... :) I'm replying to myself!
The question is what is a Spirit filled church. Dave got it, I think -- a church full of Spirit filled people.
You know, we are completely wretched and miserable. But, thank God that He is love and He commends His love toward us --- that is, He commends Himself toward us --- in that while we were sinners Christ died for us. We've all had our lives wrapped up in the world and we know it is death.
We know that the mercy of God has come to us and we are beneficiaries of His goodness.
The fact is that God wants to give us more and better than we even want for ourselves. Our prayers for blessing, our prayers to do and be what and who God desires are so far below where He really is regarding His plans and purposes for our being.
My wife and I started listening to Him. We started obeying what we heard. We thought, "Hey, this is so like God to let us be an outpost of our local church." We did not think that actually DOING that would make people mad. It has.
But, I LOVE the church. I love our church. I love God's church. It is HIS. I'm not railing. We're not victims. We're victORs. Truth of the matter is that, consciously and deliberately OR negligently and flippantly, each household in our church IS an outpost of the local body. Each family is an outpost. I am not going to apologize for getting off the script. We're not to be patted on the back for it, either. Like it or not, we are His and we want to obey Him out of love for Him and love for the people He would win and nurture in the faith.
I've done some research in the past few days. Pardon me if I stray from the topic a bit.
In my county in Alabama, there are approx. 34,300 residents. One source says there are 107 churches in the county. I think there are more than that, but let's stick with that number. Another source I found says that average church attendance weekly in the county is 21.8% of the population. That's about 7,500 people in my county in church on any given Sunday morning.
Stay with me. 16% of my county's population lives below the federal poverty line. I can't find a definitive number or a definitive tie between this portion of the population and the portion of that 7,500 who live below "in poverty". But, let's assume that the church-going population is, on the whole, consistently comprised of the same cross section of below-poverty/above-poverty as the county's general population. I'm quite sure the church-goers are skewed to a much higher percentage above poverty, but let's assume that it isn't so. Let's assume that 16% of church goers in my county are, like 16% of the whole population, living below the "poverty line". That's 1,200 people or so in poverty and in church and 4,300 of those people who are not.
Now, if you look at that last line you'll see why I think much less than 16% of the total church going population live below poverty levels. While only 21% of the whole population go to church weekly, if 16% of the total church goers are in poverty, it skews the numbers highly for poor-in-church: it means that about 30% of all poor people in the county are in church. That's just not so.
Anecdotally, I can attest that most of the churches are populated primarily if not almost entirely by middle-class people and, in the Methodist and Southern Baptist churches, mostly middle-class and some outright wealthy families.
Furthermore, when you consider that out of 7,500 in church on any given Sunday there are about 20 larger, more affluent churches in the county that will have 150-200 in attendance (or more), that 7,500 seems even less likely to include truly poorer people. You will have no more than 5,000 scattered over 80 or so churches, or about 40 per. Those smaller fellowships are far more likely to have the poor among them than are the larger, socially-connected churches. If you scattered 1,000 below-poverty attenders over 80 churches, you'd average 12 or so per church. That's about 25% of the average for each of the smaller churches. Well, I can tell you, again, that looking at these rural churches, they couldn't pay pastors and keep doors open and lights on if a full 25% of them were extremely poor. It just does not wash.
So, what do I think is really happening? I think most of the churches in my county all but totally do not include poor among their attenders. Not saying they are doing anything to run them off, but they are just doing nothing to deliver the gospel to them at all. I think that the lost, rural poor southerners in my county constitute an unreached people group just as much as some remote tribe in a faraway place do. I think the barriers to reaching them are just as real and substantial as the barriers to reaching UPGs in India or South America or wherever. And, based on observation, it is about as likely as water running uphill, that these rural poor southerners as a UPG are going to come to our church buildings because we've "invited" them. Something far more invasive, far more enduring is going to have to happen where these people are. And, where they are is in mobile homes, lean-tos, and old run-down houses with bad plumbing, little heating and A/C, and maybe not even a working septic tank; they may have meth labs in their houses, be flea infested slop houses for all practical purposes, but populated by poor people with little or no education and who will look at you like you've got a horn growing out of your head if you come to them with "read the Bible" or "read" anything. But, Jesus died for them. I know something of their lives because I lived it as a child myself.
So, MY local church is doing absolutely NOTHING to reach these people. We are focusing on invitations and public giveaways and event-creation stunts. Where is the Holy Ghost? Ready, present and able. Where are the laborers for the harvest? Trunk or treating and playing softball.
| 2014/10/27 14:08||Profile|
This world is not my home anymore.
| Re: What are the characteristics of a Holy Spirit filled church?|
I agree with everyone... I will just add this tidbit that I think is important that I've noticed is that churches today cater to the bottom-feeders (if I can use that term loosely), they are afraid to offend them and therefore not get their tithes or their attendance or their salvation. I was at this one church years ago that put men into leadership position that had not been discipled or saved long and then wondered why idiiotic things happened.
Where I was converted, they pastor actually took time to feed the sheep and you had to jump in where they were if you wanted to learn and grow. Therefore, there wasn't a lot of people sitting in beginners classes and the like. No, you had to hit your knees praying to get caught up to the rest of the Spirit-filled people!! And they helped you grow as well!
So, that would be one of the characteristics to actually feed the grown sheep instead of catering to sheep that haven't even been born yet.
What I've seen here in eastern TN is pastors make everyone wait till everyone is on the same page before moving on; when in fact, human nature is people don't want to move forward unless they feel they are being left behind. So therefore no one wants to move on, they are all happy right where they sat the day they got saved 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. It's a sad, sad state of affairs in the church today. I can see it moving toward where Jesus said, "Will there be any faith on the earth" when He returns.
| 2014/10/27 15:43||Profile|
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Lysa, My wife and I spent two years in East TN too. Aug 90 - first part of May 92.
| 2014/10/27 16:04||Profile|
| Re: Spirit-filled churches|
As has already been mentioned, there are no Spirit-filled churches, just Spirit filled people. Mis-nomers abound, we use them for intellectual convenience in the large part.
Wonder if any church bodies could learn something from a somewhat secular example. Ever wonder why students who graduated from one-room schoolhouses in the past became so well educated? Hard to imagine how one room full of students of all ages and only one teacher could function. It was really so simple, the teacher would present material, and the students would read on their own while the teacher assisted those who needed a little more help. But the older students, who had begun to grasp the material, would teach the younger ones. They in turn would do the same making a study/learn/teach model that- dare I say it- left no child behind!
Of course, those schools in Early America were no strangers to the Bible, and they were all expected to read and know it. But they ended up following a model spoken centuries earlier by Ezra who said he was determined to study the law of God, to practice it, and to teach it to the children of Israel.
The pastor led model for church has severe limitations. People can sit in one of these churches for years and remain a whiny 2 year-old. Or they can take on a "church job" like ushering or parking lot monitor and think they are maturing in faith. I always cringe when I hear one of these faithful workers brag something like, "Oh, I don't know much about the Bible," as if ignorance of the things of God is some kind of badge of honor. And no, I do not want to teach a Sunday School class.
Agreed, these people are not fit to teach. But it is a black mark on their fellowship if they are not being led to become competent in sharing the wisdom and requirements of the gospel.
Where the people are being led to come to Christ, to seek the filling of the Spirit, to practice their lives accordingly, and are encouraged to teach it to others, you will have what might more rightly be called a Spirit Filled church.
| 2014/10/27 16:22||Profile|