This guy has pretty much summed up my church history. Sometimes it feels so good to know that I’m not alone. I probably could have written down those four steps that I quoted below word for word about five years ago. It is so good to see and read this out in the open.
Through my own blog, my visits to similar blogs and websites, and ongoing interaction with many representatives of the emerging generations, it becomes clear that a significant portion of those who could be called part of the “emerging church” were also formerly involved in churches that were Pentecostal, Charismatic or Third Wave.
I have also had many conversations with youth and young adults who have been raised in charismatic churches, who are questioning the same things. In many ways, they’ve seen and done it all, but now, like their conservative evangelical friends, they are growing disillusioned with some of the teachings, and the practices based on those teachings.
It would probably be more accurate to not call these people post-charismatic, but rather post-HYPE. They are tired of hearing great stories about the good old days, jaded from hearing too many prophecies about the great move of God that seems to always be just around the corner, fed up with exaggerated or even fabricated stories of healings and miracles, and disillusioned with a view of spiritual formation that is lived through a weekly crisis moment at the front of the church.
In years past, most of them would not have voiced these questions out loud, out of concern of being labeled rebellious or lacking faith. Even recently, most of the concerns that have been voiced to me have been done in a context of two or three friends sharing a table at a coffeeshop or pub; they wouldn’t be comfortable voicing their concerns in the church at large.
Broadly speaking, there are four major areas that come up repeatedly as reasons for post-charismatics pulling away from their Pentecostal, Charismatic, or Third Wave roots. The four areas are:
1. Abuses and elitism in prophetic ministry, coupled with a “carrot and stick” approach to holiness that many find legalistic, manipulative, and repressive
2. The excesses of Word Faith teachings (health and wealth, prosperity doctrine) which clash with the emerging generations’ concern for a biblical approach to justice and ministry with the poor
3. Authoritarianism and hierarchical leadership structures that exist more to control people than to equip the saints for works of service
4. An approach to spiritual formation (discipleship) that depends on crisis events — whether at “the altar” in a church service, or in a large conference setting — but either neglects or deliberately belittles other means of spiritual growth