Last weekend, my wife Deborah and I drove to San Fernando, Pampanga, for our Central Luzon Discipleship 2013 conference. We now have 11 Victory churches in the region. About 1,000 Victory Group leaders attended the conference. I wish you could have been there—amazing stories of the gospel changing lives!
As great as the conference was, I had a troubling conversation with a pastor and his wife. I have had similar conversations with pastors on other continents. Here’s the all-too-familiar story:
Some church members recently attended a “prophetic signs and wonders” conference led by foreigners. After the conference, they returned to their local church passionate, excited, arrogant, judgmental, and weird. Since they now believe that their home church is not sufficiently led by the Spirit, they are determined to change their local church culture to reflect the “moving of the Spirit” they experienced at the conference.
First of all, I am not suggesting that the Spirit was not moving at the conference. I am sure there was a real sense of His presence and power. But, there is a huge difference in how a local church is led and how a revival conference is led.
Second, I should point out that the pastoral couple that brought up this concern are both deeply spiritual prophetic leaders. They are not spiritually dull leaders with no appreciation for spiritual gifts. Yet, they were bothered by the obsession with strange religious experiences that these people are trying to import into their church.
One of the primary reasons these conference attendees felt that Victory pastors are not led by the Spirit is because we schedule and post an ending time for our worship services. Guilty. They also mentioned the absence of gold dust and angel feathers. Guilty again. But does that mean we are not led by the Spirit?
Is it possible that the Spirit could have led us to schedule ending times at all our weekend worship services? What if the Holy Spirit actually gave us the wisdom to know that when you do six worship services every Sunday, and two on Saturday, and you want your volunteers to return next week to minister in kids church, that you must stick with a schedule? Wisdom is not incompatible with being led by the Spirit. And weirdness is not necessarily spiritual.
I’m all about the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our meetings, and especially in our homes and neighborhoods. But I have little tolerance for arrogant and judgmental attitudes that well-meaning spiritual novices bring back from these conferences.
I pray that our churches and our church members will experience a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit that will empower us to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.”
In other words, I pray we will respond to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit by becoming more missional, not more mystical.
Steve’s blogs can be found at stevemurrell.com.
Steve and Deborah Murrell went to the Philippines in 1984 for a “one month” summer mission trip that never ended. They are the founding pastors of Victory Manila, one church that meets in 14 locations in Metro Manila and has planted churches in 60 Philippine cities and 20 nations. Currently, Victory has more than 6,000 discipleship groups that meet in coffee shops, offices, dormitories and homes in Metro Manila. Steve is cofounder and president of Every Nation Churches & Ministries, a family of churches focused on church planting, campus ministry and world missions.