In Need of New Language


Half-way through a great Sunday morning service at The Life Church of Memphis, it hit me: they need new language to help define their uniqueness both theologically as well experientially. And then I realized that there are potentially hundreds of churches in America in the same place. They need a new expression to help shape their movement and give them new context in American Christianity.

Not long ago the term “spirit-filled” evoked images of people falling down, speaking in tongues and, yes, even “barking in the Spirit.” Some of the neo Charismatic churches that still believe in the demonstrative gifts of the spirit on an individual level but not as much corporately are still using this outdated phrase to define themselves. That’s a problem.

Those who are looking for the old school spirit-filled experience will be disappointed with the lack of, what I call, chaos in the neo charismatic services and those who chose not to go because of fear of people falling over in the isles will often miss a great service.

How would you describe this new expression?

  • Steve Lauthern

    I like the phrase "experiential worship" because it compels me to participate.

  • Thanks for the offer, but we already have a new code phrase to tell you if they're neo-charismatic: "life-giving." The question "Are they a life-giving church?" translates to "Are they charismatic?"

  • Maurilio,Great question. In fact, leaders from across the "Spirit-filled" movement have been discussing this very question over the last few months as part of the Empowered21 conversations. These conversations have brought together scholars, emerging and established leaders to discuss what the Holy Spirit is doing today and what language to use to label it. These conversations will all culminate in a meeting in April at ORU called the Global Congress on Holy Spirit Empowerment in the 21st Century. The guys from ARC are speaking into this and will bring leadership to the pastoral track at the Congress. Check it out at You really should be there.

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