My Christian journey was profoundly shaped by the fact that I was raised in what some would call a charismatic church. I was raised in an Assemblies of God church and the first five years of my life in ministry were working on staff at an A/G church. I am grateful for how I was raised and after no longer attending an A/G church, I have come to value the impact growing up in a charismatic church made on my life. I will, however, note that there are some unique and quirky things that come along with it.
This list is by no means intended to belittle the charismatic upbringing I had, but more to celebrate some of the oddities that can be associated with the heritage we charismatic kids can share.
You may have been raised charismatic if…
- you’ve recommitted your life to Christ more than 10 times per year.
- you would say a quick prayer asking for the forgiveness of as many sins as you can remember when the traveling prophet would start walking around in the congregation.
- a family road trip included stops in Toronto or Pensacola, Florida, in the mid-late 90s.
- you know what the initial evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is.
- you were a cast member in “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.”
- your church logo had a dove on fire.
- you feel uncomfortable in churches where people don’t raise their hands.
- you liked Hillsong before they were cool.
- your church was worried about Y2K.
- you’ve experienced and/or participated in a Jericho March.
- you’ve question the salvation of your Catholic friends.
- you’ve complained about worship services being too short.
- someone in your service ‘caught’ the Holy Ghost, and subsequently gave it to others.
- you know what JBQ stands for.
- you’ve ‘laid’ things at the altar, but never physically left anything there.
- your church showed the “Thief in the Night” movies followed by an emotional appeal for people to be sure of their salvation.
- you’ve been grazed by a banner during a worship service.
- you’ve worried you’ve missed the rapture on more than one occasion when you can’t get a hold of your Christian family members.
- the only kind of dancing that’s allowed at your church is dancing in the Spirit.
- it’s common for people to take their shoes off during worship.
- your church’s altar ministry team included “catchers.”
- your pastor would shout and sweat when he preached.
- you friends’ parents were skeptical of letting them come with you to youth group.
- your college options were Northwestern, Southwestern, Central, Southeastern, or North Central.
- there was lots of talk about the End Times in sermons.
- your church had real altars at the front.
- your youth group did a “Hell House” during Halloween.
- you were in Royal Rangers or Missionettes.
- it was OK for women to be pastors, prophets, teachers, or evangelists.
- one of your family vacations was to Heritage USA.
- you get the shivers listening to the song “The Mercy Seat.”
- you know what a “human video” is.
- there were banners and tambourines with ribbons used in your worship services.
- your worship leader would sing the same refrain or chorus from a song for more than 5 minutes.
- your grandparents watch and give money to TBN.
- the ushers in your church wore maroon or purple sport coats with gold name badges.
- you’ve had to explain to your friends what being slain in the Spirit means.
- your church had a ‘blanket’ ministry.
- you know the names Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, and Jesse Duplantis.
- your parents were members of the Maranatha/Integrity praise tape club.
- your Easter services included live animals.
- the movie Jesus Camp was eerily similar to your summer Bible camps.
- your Christmas services were like a Broadway show.
- you took a water bottle with you to church.
- you would find your seat after the worship portion of your church service.
- you have had a “word” spoken over your life.
- Kleenex boxes lined the front altar of your church.
- you know the significance of Azusa Street.
- you’ve made Faith Promise or made of Vow of Faith.
- your church was known as the “rock and roll” church.
- your pastor went from being very conservative in the 90s to very trendy in more recent days.
- there was no such thing as an “order of service” at your church.
- your youth pastor used lots of hair gel.
- your church took over Denny’s, Perkins or any 24-hour restaurant around 10 PM on Sunday nights.
- you’re comfortable with spontaneous singing.
- you know there are two IHOPs.
- the shofar was used in your church’s worship services.
- Pentecost Sunday was a big deal at your church.
- some of your church services were all worship and no teaching [mainly on Sunday evenings or Wednesday nights].
- your pastor was skeptical of the seeker-sensitive movement.
- summer camp involved pressure for you to receive your prayer language.
- it was common for people to start speaking loudly in the middle of your worship service and use phrases like “my children…” or “thus saith the Lord…”
- your church celebrated the Year of Jubilee.
- you faked being “blessed by the Spirit” to get out of taking tests at your Christian school. [I did that once.]
- you know what Buddy Barrel is.
- photos of your pastor and his wife were predominant in publications.
- the phrase, “I’m feeling led by the Spirit right now to…” was used frequently in your church services.
- you would have to ask people around you if they wanted you to walk down to the altar with them.
- the phrase “IshouldaboughtaHondabutIboughtaNissan” makes you laugh and makes you feel guilty at the same time.
- you would address people as “Brother” or “Sister.”
- the altar call lasted as long as the actual church service.
- when someone shouted “FIRE!” in your church it didn’t cause alarm.
- you’ve been drunk…in the Spirit.
- you would keep your eyes open during a response time to see if people were really raising their hands all across the room.
- if this resembles one of your church services:
Ok, ok I know. I need to stop. But really, the longer this list of charismania got the more I realized how crazy and special it was to share the joys of being raised charismatic. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
In All Seriousness…
All craziness aside, the passion for God I witnessed, the sensitivity to the spirit and the openness to new ideas and to the leading of the Spirit have been foundational in my life and in my relationship with God. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the church I called home growing up.
Some of the innovative leaders and thinkers in the church world today have their roots in the Assemblies of God and other charismatic denominations and I know they would echo the same sentiments. And some of the churches that are having global impact around the world are charismatic, too! [Even if they don't advertise it!]
So, even though things were a bit crazy and not so normal compared to most churches, as my pastor used to say, ” it’s because we’re crazy in love with Jesus.”
And in thinking of all of this, the words of Paul come to mind: “If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.” [2 Cor 5:13]
I’m thankful for being raised charismatic. There, I said it.
To fellow charismatics out there, what would you add to my list?
[Special thanks to my friend Aaron Springer for helping me compile this list!]