Reflections from a journal article (see below for full information):
1/ The church should be a “fellowship in the Spirit” (p. 156ff.). This means that the church is not just gathered together by the Spirit (a fellowship created by the Spirit), but that, “In the Pentecostal model of church, the key and defining thing is to have a living experience of the Spirit” (p. 157). It is a continual challenge for all churches (especially, Pentecostal churches who should claim to have this as their ethos), to make room for this to happen. I know this has been even more of a struggle since many PAOC churches have moved away from having regular Sunday evening services, where the congregation was often given more time to be in the presence of God. Of course, a church should be able to have a “living experience of the Spirit” through their current format of a Sunday morning service as well! Further, this should also happen in each person’s own life, but if the church as a whole does not practice this, it is not teaching the members of the congregation how to do this, nor the importance of it.
Challenge 1: Does your church offer “a living experience of the Spirit?”
2/ The church is a community gifted by the Spirit (p. 159ff.). According to the NT, each member is already gifted by the Spirit (1 Cor 14:7; 1 Pet 4:10)…(and yet we are also still called to desire the gifts, 1 Cor 14:1). I suppose one problem is that we often limit what we think of as “spiritual gifts.” Regardless, we are challenged to “resist the clericalization of the church” and become a community “characterized by mutual interdependence and a free fellowship with gifts flowing, where each ministers to the others and unity is in the diversity of the members” (p. 160). When functioning correctly, the church is not “one big mouth and a lot of little ears” (i.e., the preacher and the congregation). This challenges not only church leaders to empower and lead their people to utilize their gifts in ministry (whether ‘official’ ministry, or even just praying over post-service coffee), but it also challenges congregants to step up and use their gifts.
Challenge 2: Is your church a community where every gift is utilized? Or, to speak in Pauline language (1 Cor 12:11-12), are all of the body parts working?
May God help the church to be a “church in the power of the Spirit!”
As always, I welcome comments and feedback.
I may be able to share this article with those who are interested (agabriel(at)horizon.edu). Pinnock raises 6 overall themes (he also has much to say about the grounding and content of the church’s mission).
Clark H. Pinnock, “Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit: The Promise of Pentecostal Ecclesiology,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 14.2 (2006): 147-165.