Managing The Refuge Homeless Shelter affords me the opportunity to see many churches with many different styles of worship and service. There are stark contrasts between churches who are charismatic and mainline churches.
I grew up in a Pentecostal church. So, I am more familiar with the laid back spontaneous style of worship. There are no creeds to recite, no written prayers, and communion is served only once a month.
Other mainline churches have creeds, liturgies, and communion served every week.
But what I want to highlight here is not the different styles of worship. I want to talk about the difference in how the spiritual gifts are practiced among the churches.
Last month an article written by Andrew Wilson called, “Our Churches Are Either Sacramental or Charismatic.” He says, “ It is an oddity of contemporary Christianity, at least in the West, that the churches that emphasize the sacraments generally do not emphasize spiritual gifts, and vice versa.”
And an oddity it is! The early church had a good mix of liturgy and charismatic gifts. It is strange that the Church today seems to be splintered between those who practice and those who don’t.
(I am not referring to cessationist. Here, I am referring to those churches that claim to believe in the spiritual gifts and yet do not practice.)
Wilson wants to see both the high-liturgical churches and the charismatics come together and practice together. He is looking for the churches to adopt “Eucharismatic” worship. He combines the words Eucharist and charismatic to emphasize the unity between high liturgical churches and the use of the gifts. They can be used together within worship.
Growing up Pentecostal I was told written prayers were not spiritual enough. You needed to pray from the heart, pray in the spirit, which is spontaneous.
High liturgical churches may feel if they allow the use of the gifts they would lose control of their services and create an atmosphere that is less reverent.
These are valid fears. There are times when prayer needs to be spontaneous. But, I have greatly been enriched by the use of written prayers. The book of Psalms is one of my go-to prayer books. Also, I’ve been in many services where a supposed “move of the Spirit” led to chaos and irreverent behavior in the service. But it is not the gifts of the Spirit, or the Spirit himself, that brings chaos. It is people mis-using the gifts. It is the task of the leadership and elders to correctly teach the use of the gifts and handle the service in such a way that it builds up the body of Christ.
I’d encourage my charismatic friends to consider using liturgy in your services. I would start by reciting the Apostles’ Creed during your service. It is a good start in getting your people use to reciting and praying together.
For my high-liturgical friends I would encourage you to create a space within your services in order for the gifts of the Spirit to be used. This means you’ll have to allow people to speak from the heart, to pray for others, and sing songs to each other.
Wilson says, “Worshiping God with both sacramental and spiritual gifts can deepen our joy, enrich our lives, and remind us that there are things we can learn from the worship practices of other church traditions.”
I whole heartedly agree.