- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 15, 2010

I was in Tulsa last week with more than 9,000 people trying to figure out what the Holy Spirit will do in the 21st century.

Which is a pretty weighty task. Those of us at an Empowered 21 Congress were at Oral Roberts University, a charismatic theme park with the iconic 200-foot-tall prayer tower with a cross-of-thorns observation deck; a building that was a replica of King Solomon’s temple complete with massive white pillars, a chapel designed to look like a revivalist’s tent and a large prayer garden laid out in the shape of a star of David.

That did help get everyone in the mood.

I was one of more than 200 panelists at this gigantic event, there to push my latest book on charismatic Christian communities. The under-30 set is rediscovering the delights and dangers of living “in household” as we termed it back in the 1970s, and I wanted to warn them of possible pitfalls.

The purpose of the gathering was to discern where the charismatic renewal — which turned 50 on April 3 — is headed and how to pass its accumulated wisdom onto the young. An army of scholars was brought in to lecture on everything from Pentecostal and charismatic theology, missiology and demographics to “MRI evidence for the linguistic nature of glossolalia.”

The verdict I heard was that charismatics need to return to their supernatural roots because there’s a jaded world out there hungry for the miraculous.

But the typical college-aged Christian isn’t into the spiritual gifts like their parents were 30 years ago. One of the first workshops in the youth ministry track was on how to get the kids on board. Answer: Make them “spiritually bilingual.”

“If we don’t teach students about praying in tongues, they’ll miss out on an experience of God they won’t get in any other form,” said Jay Mooney, an Assemblies of God pastor. “If a generation is to be Spirit-filled, we can’t short-circuit them on [the need for a] spiritual language.”

And the younger the better. In the children’s ministry track, a packed room of women eagerly hung on advice by Becky Fischer of Kids in Ministry International. There, she showed video clips of children in Bangladesh, India and Kenya happily praying in tongues.

“Kids are hungry for the supernatural. Kids are hungry for a touch from God,” she said in a lecture on “how to bring children into the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Getting kids to do everything from prophesying to healing the sick should be the rule, not the exception, she said. For most churches, kids’ ministry is limited to Sunday school. As for bringing in the supernatural, she added, “A lot of times, churches will shut this down because they don’t have the grid for it.”

The millennial generation is trying to run with this. One 20-something female speaker told us about groups of young women in Dallas who style themselves as “young Deborahs” as they learn how to prophesy.

Mix that with the yen for social justice that most youth share and you get an “Acts 2:17 generation,” she said, referring to a Scripture about the young and old getting prophecies, dreams and visions from God.

It seems that this movement has lots of resident energy and power but far too often it’s the panicky elders who put on the brakes.

“We’re oversensitive about offending people,” Mr. Mooney said. “We’re underground about this even in the Assemblies of God.”

And so it fell to an African evangelist, E.A. Adeboye, to fire up the troops on the final night.

“God didnt create us for failure,” he said. “Stop delaying the second coming of Christ.”

Contact Julia Duin at [email protected]


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