About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Charismatic Worship And Evangelicalism
The Charismatic Movement began in the mid 1960's and carried on through the 1970's and into the 1980's. I came a part of this movement in 1971, Some might say that the movement died down in the 1980's. Others might say that it is still with us today. Whatever the case, this movement has had a profound impact on the evangelical church.
One of the ways in which the Charismatic Movement has influenced non-charismatic evangelical churches is in music, song, and worship.
In the late 1980's I attended a non-charismatic church meeting and noted that out of the five songs we sang that night, four sprang forth from charismatic circles. I mentioned this to the pastor. I don't think he was all that impressed by my comment. Still the fact remains that charismatic worship has had a real impact on the Christian world, whether we want to admit it or not.
In my thinking though, some non-charismatic church people have a misconception of what "Charismatic Worship" is all about. In many minds "Charismatic Worship" is a particular style of worship. The style consists of certain types of songs that are sung, certain types of instruments played, and to a degree, certain types of physical expressions that can be seen in the worshipers. Charismatic worship is not a style of worship. It is not one style of worship that is opposed to another particular style.
Really, I don't even like the term "Charismatic Worship" because by using this term we may be suggesting that it is one of many different styles of worship. The term I would rather use is "Intimate Worship". I feel this term better expresses what true worship is all about.
When Charismatic Christians come together to worship, they are devoting their very heart and soul to the Lord. They are singing their songs as prayers to the Lord. They are focusing all of their attention towards Jesus as they sing. As a result, the Lord responds to them by pouring out His Holy Spirit in such a way that you know you have entered into His presence. "Intimate Worship" then is actually entering into the very presence of the living God. It is a two way experience between the worshiper and his Lord. It is not a time of merely singing songs. It is not a time of getting focused on what should be happening in the gathering, although that is a result of "Intimate Worship". It is not merely a style of worship. It is entering God's presence. It is a time of intimate communion between you and Jesus.
Let me use an analogy. A husband and wife have their times of intimacy. In like manner, both individual Christians and the church collectively have their time of intimacy with their Lord when entering into true spiritual worship. There are many similarities between the relationship of husbands and wives, and that of the church and her Lord, but that is a study for another day. The point to be made in this comparison is that in both cases, the experience is "intimate". If you are a little uncomfortable with this comparison you can read Eph. 5 and see that Paul makes the same comparison.
The goal therefore of worship is to enter the presence of God and allow His Holy Spirit to do whatever He desires. Where the Holy Spirit is, there are signs of His presence, resulting in gifts He distributes to those in the gathering.
Remember what Jesus said in John 4:23, "true worshipers must worship the Father in spirit and truth". Therefore, worship without the presence of the Holy Spirit is not really worship. If our goal is to enter into God's presence, we cannot do that on our own. We need the involvement of the Spirit of God.
Once again, "Intimate Worship", or "Charismatic Worship", whatever term you wish to use, is not a style of worship. It is entering into the very presence our Lord Jesus Christ and experiencing His power in whatever way He sees fit. There are therefore things that we should not do while entering the presence of God, and there are also things that we should do to experience His presence. These practical matters are a topic for a later article. The simple point I want to make at this time is that "Intimate Worship" is not a style of worship. It is entering into the presence of Jesus, the One we should devote our attention to. Once we are in His presence, we will experience the Living God.