Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Karpotic Renewal: It is time

A while ago I blogged on Philippians and suggested in the final paragraph that what is needed is a karpotic renewal (, let me elaborate.

In the 60's across the world, there was a renewal in the mainline churches in many parts of the world; what is commonly called the charismatic renewal. It involved the outpouring of the Spirit on mainline churches who, in many cases, lacked the spiritual vibrancy of the Pentecostal churches. People had fresh experiences of the Spirit. Many spoke in tongues. There were signs and wonders, and refreshed zeal for the gospel and life. In my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), many churches experienced growth. Indeed, many of the stronger PCANZ churches in NZ even today, can trace their current strength to this wave that swept them.

Sadly, during this time, there were many churches that experienced division. Many saw the tongues and other manifestations as a cause for concern, and opposition was seen in many churches. This led to conflict and splits. One of the churches I had the privilege of ministering in experienced such a split many years earlier. The renewal began in the youth group away on a camp. The young people came home full of the Spirit and zeal, but met opposition to their experience, and the leadership moved to quench it. Sadly, on one fateful Sunday evening, the whole group left, going to a large Pentecostal Church up the road. This affected the church for many years. Such stories were not uncommon.

This wave of the Spirit was linked to a time of renewal of worship, with the church moving into contemporary worship forms. There was great interest in charismata, the gifts of the Spirit. It was an interesting and exciting time.

I got serious about Christianity in the mid -1980's and started attending a large east Auckland Presbyterian Church. Without doubt this church was still in that wave, with evening services full of glorious freedom, prayer, healings, the word preached, and many people doing great work for God. The morning services too, while perhaps less vibrant, were wonderful enthusiastic family gatherings. This church was still riding the wave of the renewal.

Now, some 25 years later, it is fair to say that this wave has now gone. It has washed out. Some churches continue to worship in the same way, yearning for another fresh outpouring. The songs are still sung, but there is not the same sense of refreshment and zing. Indeed some would say that it is over, and it is time for new forms to grow. Some see the emerging and emergent church in this light.

I have pondered this whole phenomenon and consider that it is time for a new move of the Spirit to refresh the church. However, perhaps this time what is needed is not so much an outpouring of the Spirit bringing gifts released (which would still be great), but an outpouring of the Spirit bringing to bear the fruit of the Spirit. The Greek for 'fruit' is karpos; so I call this a karpotic renewal.

Why do I think this?

Well, it seems to me that if Christianity is to be taken seriously again in the west, it needs to be seen and experienced. While miracles are great, what people need to see is the deepest power of the gospel, love. Western people don't take us seriously in many instances, and why would they? They hear on the news of the failures of Christian leaders. We remain divided between denominations. We preach morality to the world, but are no better. We share the gospel, but they are not impressed as they see our hypocrisy. They have heard the words, they need to see the deeds. What is needed is that Holy Spirit falling afresh upon us, and yes, pouring out a new wave of enthusiasm, gifts, miracles and conversion power; but more, the power for us to love and serve. Indeed, everything we do should come from love.

What is needed first is for churches to experience the power of God to remove divisive behaviour, envy, quarrelling, power-domination, guilt and fear; and see it replaced by a love, service, humility, grace, mercy and kindness – the things we read of in Gal 5:22-24 and other places (cf. Phil 2; 1 Cor 13 etc). We need whole denominations to move past debate over issues and doctrine, to working together for the gospel in love and service. We need the breakdown of division between the many churches into which the church has now fragmented. We need to move to a time where the strong churches help the weak, that all are strong. We need to discover our call to serve the world, to wash its feet, to minister at its point of need, to love, to serve, to care, to be God's hands and feet to the world. What is needed in every community is individual Christians, collectives, families, whole churches, and churches together in unity, working together to bring God's transformation to his world. Jesus said, 'by this all people will know that you are my disciples, that you are divided.' No! 'That you love one another.' Paul wrote that 'the greatest of these is love.' It is even greater and 'faith', and for Paul, it is faith that saves. The two Great Commandments are 'love God with everything you have got' (paraphrase), and 'love your neighbour as you long to be loved' (another paraphrase).

Yes, we need a karpotic revival!

Dear God, I pray on behalf of your people in NZ and indeed, the whole world. You visited us in the 20th century with a wonderful wave of your Spirit. It brought the rise of the Pentecostal Church, hallelujah. It brought the renewal of many your beloved churches across the world in the charismatic renewal. Lord, we need you again. Forgive us for our 'fruitlessness.' Forgive us for our division. Forgive us that when your Spirit came afresh, we fought over it, and in some cases divided. Forgive us for moralising. Forgive us for our envy, rivalry, power-domination, for believing that charisma is more important than character. Forgive us our legalism, and our licentiousness. Father, pour out your Spirit with a new wave that generates love and the fruit of the Spirit. Fill us with fruit. May that fruit lead us to go out among the lost and serve them, sharing the gospel out of love, and doing wonderful works of service to see every heart and every part of your world restored. Heal the tree that is your church, remove the blight that is rotting us, and restore us. Come Holy Spirit, Come. We need it, for we are divided and broken. We need it, because the world too much sees our hypocrisy and division, and not our love and service. As you pour out your Spirit, may your people weep as they find a new unity, may you bind us together in wonderful harmony, and take up the gospel afresh. May we share it out of love so that the world will see and know that there is a God who loves them.

Bring a karpotic revival.


1 comment:

Dale Campbell said...

great post Mark!
When I hear the 'we got the spirit, and our elders didn't like it, so we left' stories, I can't help but always think that the TRUE spirit will never break christian unity, so leaving your brothers/sisters for a more 'spirit-friendly' church is (IMHO) equally if not more a tragedy than the resistance/concern from the others?