(CC) Samuel Wells–Why did I go to a charismatic worship service in an arena?

A close friend has a category of engagements she calls “Yes damn”: things you said yes to long ago and as they approach you can’t recall why you’re going or what they want and you’ve got a bunch else to do. So it was that I arrived in the countryside of the European continent for a convention of charismatic Christians. Many had raised their hands to come: 1,300 people in all. The question to which I couldn’t recall the answer was, Why was I there?

My first reaction was that maybe I came to rediscover the 1970s. The music was antediluvian—we even sang “Give Me Oil in My Lamp,” mothballed since the dawn of time. Singers were hugging microphones and swaying like they’d just watched an Abba concert on YouTube. I’d been invited to preach, but I hadn’t been warned that the worship service would go on for three and a half hours.

When the time came, I said my usual stuff. Then the real action began. The 30 or so clergy paired up to offer anointing, laying on of hands, and prayers for healing to all comers. I wanted to say, “Look, I know how to do this stuff. Tuck it into the time it takes to distribute communion. And don’t offer a general invitation to a thousand people on an emotional, sweaty night in a large arena. You’ll be there for a week.” But I kept quiet.

This was new for me.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

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