As I’ve looked back at the last term in church and started to plan for the autumn I’ve been pondering the question, “what makes a good charismatic church?” Accepting that some will think it an oxymoron let me suggest 5 characteristics.
1. Teaching and preaching that aims to communicate a vision for the kingdom of God and a personal revelation of God’s word needs to come from preparation rooted in sound exegesis and demonstrates an awareness of broader doctrine and history; it is this depth which enables transformation and provokes maturity though a commitment to seeking God.
2. Worship that is celebratory and conveys gratitude to God by expressing emotion, faith and structure through song needs to acknowledge pain, sin and lament through the inclusion of Scripture and prayer. Faith shares in the life of God and grounds itself in reality without losing a sense of expectation, anticipation and desire for more.
3. Discipleship is vital; developing disciples, strengthening their walk with God, equipping them to make a difference, envisioning them to engage with the mission of God. If you are going to measure anything in church life measure this because the significance of church life is not what happens when people gather on Sunday but on what they do the rest of the week.
4. Humanity. We are all crack-pots it is simply that some are better at hiding it than others. God is at work making us whole but we all have occasions when we doubt, don’t feel like it, or can’t be bothered. Likewise we have months were the strains of work, health, family etc take their toll. For some these are not just brief episodes but long running issues. Our willingness to allow each other to be who we are, to love and support each other is a mark of how Jesus like we are; as is our willingness to extend this love to others outside our (church) circle.
5. Releasing not controlling. Larger churches are made up of multiple groups, there is no single core group. This diversity can be unsettling for leaders who might want to control things, but we are not called to be thought police. Rather we are to encourage spiritual entrepreneurs whilst also encouraging people to be connected to others in networks/small groups and seeing their own roles in church life as the outworking of the broader vision, ethos and values of the church.
My hope is that the coming months see more of this becoming reality in the church here.