Most Influential Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches in America

As far as I can tell from a brief search online there is no list of the most influential Charismatic churches in America. Therefore, I'm going to give it a shot. There is a whole lot that I don't know about, so I look forward to input from people out there. Also, size and influence are different. Think about things like: How much they are a leader in defining a certain aspect or vision of Christianity?  How many many followers or copycats you have? Is the pastor on the circuit of conference Read more [...]

Seven Idols of the Church

One of the things that has become increasingly clear to me is that idolatry is the basic condition of mankind.  We love darkness (John 3:19). I was discussing this recently with my ministry partner because we’ve both had the experience repeatedly where you give someone a good book, that might  have something that’s just a little bit off in it. Instead of getting the really good meat out of it, they latch on to the one thing that is really off in the book. I was telling my wife about this and Read more [...]

Salt and Light for ‘Just Moms’?

In keeping with Will's theme about Salt and Light paradigm below, I wanted to post some thoughts here. As this paradigm relates to the home life, I mean. For many years, I struggled with finding meaning in staying at home... as many stay-at-home Mom's or mom's-to-be probably do. It wasn't that I didn't want to stay at home with my kids as much as it was not knowing how to do that AND be effective for God's kingdom. After being brought up in a cutting-edge church, I didn't know how to let the dream Read more [...]

Kris Vallotton and Bethel

I recently attended a conference with the rest of the team where Kris Vallotton was the main speaker. We were going mostly as a fellowship, not for the message, as I had only heard Kris Valloton briefly on a single web cast before. I just knew that the Bethel related guys were doing cool things and the host of the conference was very excited about having him in. We didn't go because we were big followers of his, but because we were looking for an opportunity for the guys to have an encounter with Read more [...]

New Perspective on Paul

It was asked in a comment what is the significance of the New Perspective on Paul. First of all, I am not going to pretend to be an expert. It's a bit of a tricky subject that people will want to argue about.  If you want a more expert debriefing, check out one of the audios here. Or you may want to look at John Piper's book "The Future of Justification." The simple version is as follows: Back in the 70s, a scholar named E.P. Sanders wrote a book called "Paul and Palestinian Judaism." It claimed Read more [...]

Pentecostal or Reformed?

With the rise of contemporary Reformed thought, a number of Charismatic groups have also arisen which embrace Calvinism. Perhaps the most important of these is "New Frontiers" a major church planting network from England. A major concept for Charismatics in the 20th century was a dream of unifying the "Word and the Spirit." Ern Baxter, one of the major leaders of the Shepherding Movement, was one who held to this concept. So was R.T. Kendall, who wrote a book by the same title with Paul Cain. Smith Read more [...]

Mike Bickle’s IHOP Eschatology

Mike Bickle has had a tremendous impact on the church in his generation. One that far outstrips what most of us could hope for. God called him at a very young age to be the pastor to the prophets of Kansas City. These Kansas City Prophets went on to shock the worldwide church with the divine word and power of God. Now that's not to say that things were all right. There were definitely issues, but it is to say that God used this team to do something very significant in the life of the church. Then Read more [...]

After Lakeland

Todd Bentley was exposed as being in the deception and sin of an inappropriate relationship with a female staff member. The anointed but hard-driving evangelist had fallen prey to the oldest of all sins. It's a sad story. It's sad for the church and it's especially sad for Todd Bentley, whose wife is separating from Him. What is especially interesting is the variety of responses that people have had to his fall. Steven Strang and J. Lee Grady of Charisma have used the opportunity to reiterate Read more [...]

Adult Christian Education

Despite the anti-intellectual impulses of many Christian groups, education is fundamental to what it means to be a Christian. When you are born again, you realize that you have been living in a lie for years, and that you essentially have none of the tools to live in the truth... So you hunger for education. The real question is what we mean by "education." In reality, there are two very different purposes for education, and therefore two different kinds of pursuits: The first reason to educated Read more [...]

Prosperity Problems

Throughout most of Church History the spiritual current, especially of the Catholic and Orthodox churches has been that the most spiritual possible lifestyle is to be poor. Keying off of Scriptures like "Blessed are the poor..." and "Sell everything you have and come follow me," the mindset has been that in order to truly follow Christ you must impoverish yourself. Now, of course, at any given time only a few are willing to do this at one time, and so they are considered the most Spiritual. This Read more [...]

The Florida Outpouring

After years of seemingly nothing going on, the attention of the Charismatic world has turned once again to Lakeland, Florida. For those who remember, Lakeland had the first signs of what became the Toronto and Brownsville movements under the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne. At that time, the church was pastored by Karl Strader and called the "Carpenter's Home Church." Years later, and after some drama, Karl's son Stephen began pastoring a much smaller revival-oriented church called "Ignited Church" Read more [...]

Best Worship Albums

Finding powerful worship albums is not that easy. You need a combination of great songwriting/selection, strong musicianship, hunger and responsiviness to the presence of God. Some worshipers are strong on one but weak on others. There are a lot of great worshipers in the Kansas City stream that tune into the presence of God, but it's so free form that the music suffers a bit. On other hand, more typical is sacrificing the presence for perfection. Israel Houghton may be an example of this. If he Read more [...]

An Eschatology in a Nutshell

There are three basic systems for eschatology. Rather than elaborate on all of the nuances, I wanted to give the super simplified list to keep things clear. The most popular system has these basic features: Jesus is coming back to get the church and judge the world at any time. This will be followed by a golden age of his rule upon the Earth while Satan is bound. This will be followed by Satan's release and a final judgement of both the devil and the wicked. That is called premillennialism. Read more [...]

Body, Soul (and Spirit?)

The words, body, soul, and spirit are commonly used in Christian language to express the totality of man -- his whole being. This has led some to believe that there are actually three faculties in existence. But closer analysis suggests that these words do not refer to three planes of existence (ontology) but rather three types of desires (morality): carnal, rational, and gospel. Put another way, we use the words body, soul, and spirit metaphorically, and by convention. If we were using them literally, Read more [...]

A Survey of Church/Family Worldviews

We live in a era when the basic building block society -- the family -- is breaking down. This family disfunction is invading the church. Different segments of the church have recognized different aspects of the problem and are addressing it in different ways. Here is a brief survey of family approaches I'm familiar with: The Vision Forum/Conservative Calvinist Approach -- Some of the best Christian family resources available today are produced by a group called the Vision Forum. Doug Phillips Read more [...]

Calvinism, Conclusions and Confusion

I've said before that it is rare to meet a consistent Calvinist. Within Calvinist circles there is a divide between hyper-Calvinists and other moderate forms. Iain H. Murray, whose work and life mission I really appreciate, has a book called "Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism" in which Murray revitalizes Spurgeon's moderate positions. Charles Spurgeon himself used the hyper-Calvinist label as a way of separating his own evangelistic views from the non-evangelistic Calvinism he saw in extremists around Read more [...]

Return of the Thunder

Rob Rufus recently prophesied that the church had been going through a dry spell with limited experiences of the presence of God. It was confirming to hear this coming from a voice from such a different location. For the past few years I have been feeling like "nothing is going on" in the church. This is not to say that nothing at all is happening, or that we have not been advancing the gospel around the world, but that there was no movement which was positively moving the character of the church Read more [...]

Paul Washer

A speaker at a Southern Baptist youth convention named Paul Washer has stirred up a bunch of controversy by giving a tough message at a youth convention. Here are some thoughts about that message: Positive Points Paul Washer's basic point that Salvation is accompanied by holiness and a real pursuit of God was correct, and a lot of people need to hear that message and can be born again because of it. He actually preached from the heart and with conviction,which unfortunately seems to be fairly Read more [...]

Apostolic Movements

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a term used by Peter Wagner to describe current trends in church movements, particularly with regard to a "five-fold" ministry and church polity. These NAR movements are supposed to be led through relationships instead of structures, and generally follow the Ephesians 4:10 pattern. This concept first emerged as part of the Latter Rain movement. The Latter Rainers had the original revelation of the "five-fold" but this began to develop in unhealthy ways as the Read more [...]

Evangelical Ph.D Programs

There are many evangelical schools for training ministers, thereby offering the Master of Divinity degree, but comparatively few that offer the Doctor of Philoophy (Ph.D) or Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) Here is the list of accredited programs. I am not counting here Missions degrees or Leadership degrees. Of these, which are evangelical of some stripe? For purposes of this discussion, I'm focusing on Bible or Theology related Ph.Ds, not missions, etc.   Southern Baptist Schools Southeastern Read more [...]

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People (Reflections on the Theodicy)

This is the question which seems to plague a lot of people -- Why bad things happen to good people? It's a tricky question. Too often, it seems that the standard Christian answer comes back to some form of  "We don't know. They just do. Worship God anyway." Or worse yet, "All thing work together for good, so God has a good purpose in your bad thing." I do not find these answers very satisfying, do you? Before we set about answering the question why bad things happen to good people, we should Read more [...]

Dangerous Trends in the Church

The contemporary church appears to be at a crossroads. The legendary figures of the World War II generation are passing off of the scene. These figures, the greatest of whom was Billy Graham, anchored the church for more than half a century. Raised in the fundamentalist context of a long gone time, and baptized into the post WWII revival, they were strong defenders of an evangelistic and strongly orthodox conception of reality. It was in their generation that fundamentalism became evangelicalism Read more [...]

Thoughts on the State of Worship Music

Thirty years ago, there was no such thing as "Christian Contermporary Music" (CCM), and it has only been in the past fifteen that "Worship" has really emerged as a music style. Musical options were limited to the traditional Southern and Black Gospel genres and then all kinds of worldly music. Why is this important to note? Music is so deeply connected to the spiritual realm that I would suggest that all music is spiritual. Whatever you listen to, you take in the spirit of that music. So even music Read more [...]

The Five-Fold Ministry

The idea of a five-fold ministry has caused some consternation among not just evangelicals but also classic Pentecostals. I was talking to a brother recently from the Pentecostal Holiness denomination who was upset because their denomination seemed to be pushing everyone to be like "Apostle" Ron Carpenter, who has one of the largest churches in the denomination. Wayne Grudem, who is generally open to a Charismatic understanding of the Scripture, also does not give high marks to the idea of a modern Read more [...]

The State of Arminianism

Following on the previous discussion, the question arises as to, Who are today's Arminians and what are they doing? Fundamentalist Wesleyan Vic Reasoner publishes the Arminian Magazine and is the leader among a group of articulate individuals who understand theology and contend for Wesley's vision. In his book, The Hope of the Gospel: An Introduction to Wesleyan Eschatology, Vic Reasoner shows how Arminianism naturally leads to a victorious postmillennial approach to history. I would love to Read more [...]

The Resurgence of Calvinism

Calvinism is increasingly becoming identified with contemporary evangelicalism. Let's look at some of the evidences: Britain, after 200 years of Methodism, has emerged with an almost exclusively Calvinist evangelical community. The Southern Baptist church, the largest American evangelical denomination,was for more than one hundred years essentially Armianian but is having a resurgence of Calvinism. The Presbyterian Church of America, strongly Reformed in doctrine,  has become the de facto Read more [...]

Prophets That I Know About

The prophetic movement began in 1948 with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. A group of Pentecostal Bible students from the Sharon Orphanage and Schools began fasting after some of their leaders had driven to Vancouver to see William Branham in person. Branham's gift was so amazing that they began to seek God to see similar results. Several weeks into the fast, there was an powerful outpouring of personal prophecy, and several other things. These events became the Read more [...]