I am writing something here today which might potentially lose me readers, credibility, whatever. Last weekend I went to a conference which dah, dah, dah, John and Carol Arnot were at. I have to confess I really dug my heals in at the last minute and didn’t want to go at all. I did though, and was blessed in some ways, and left frustrated in others. I’ve been really interested in Robby’s posts recently about prayer ministry and ministry time questions and answers. In his posts Robby refers to the Vineyards five fold prayer model. Robby talks about how a more pastoral and Spirit led model of prayer has been replaced with the repetition of “more Lord” as if it were a charismatic incantational mantra. Robby is all for the work of the Holy Spirit, and has experienced “on the floor” encounters with him many times. In some ways I agree with Robby, as I have experienced many people using the “more Lord” mantra, as if they really didn’t know what else to pray. If I’m honest, quite often the “more Lord” mantra for me has been accompanied by someone pushing firmly on my head or shoulders, or sticking their foot behind mine, I guess trying to help me fall over?? I’m a stubborn soul though, and I don’t perform for anybody! On the other hand I have experienced wonderful people praying for me over the years, who did truly seem interested in why I wanted someone to pray with me.
The whole pessimist in me came out whilst at the conference. I couldn’t get my head around why as soon as John Arnot would raise his hand up loads of people would shrill, what was it they were getting in all of the rows in front of me, that I wasn’t receiving in my row? I found it difficult on the only evening that John Arnot spoke (there were various Christian speakers there) that he majored in on healing. Some people were genuinely healed, one man who I know had a heart problem healed that night. That’s wonderful. I found a pushiness to the evening as well though, as people were prayed for they were asked “does it feel any better?” some replied “I’m not really sure” the response to that was “Well you either know if it’s better or not, now tell me, does it feel any better?” One lady with a bad back problem had tears as she said “no it feels no better at all.” they prayed for her again to receive the same response, at that point they asked a ministry team member to pray with her, and then moved on to another person. I really felt for this lady. I wondered how many times she’d received prayer for her back. I wondered how many times she’d been disappointed in the past, and how much she hoped that tonight would be her night. I really hope that she receives healing.
The whole conference was focused on the Holy Spirit. That again is great, as you can never have too much Holy Spirit in your life. There was lots of talk about the river, but I wondered where other parts of Christianity fell into this, you can’t just focus on one aspect of God. The time I dreaded came – a call for all of the pastors and their wives (oh, yes, that’s me then) to go to the front and receive prayer. The Arnots, and a few others, started the “more Lord” mantra and the people went flying. John Arnot came up to me and squeezed my hands really tight – nothing- he squeezed them again – nothing. Like I wrote, I don’t perform for anyone if I’m going to end up on my back, then it’s God who is going to do it! John then stuck an imaginary hat – or something like that on me – and said “wear it”, he then moved on to my non obliging husband! Inside I was thinking “ha”, then Carol Arnot came up to me and squeezed my hand ……. and the next thing I knew was that I was on my back! I’m not really sure what I make of the whole Toronto thing and the Arnots. There are things they say and do which I simply do not agree with or believe. However, God is obviously using them – is it because they are more open to his Spirit? I don’t know. I cannot deny though, that when Carol touched me something went shooting through my body and literally knocked me off my feet. I know it was God because he ministered to me whilst I was on the floor. I guess as they say, his ways are not our ways.
I’ve been pondering over the past week though how the work Holy Spirit is viewed in emerging/missional Christianity. Is there a big enough place for him, or are we trying to run away too much from things such as the Toronto blessing, that we have squeezed the HS out a little? I’m processing this right now. What are your thoughts?