Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Move of the Spirit

Evangelicalism has always been quite strong in Australia.

The Welsh Revival
and Azusa Street Revival occurred overseas in the early 1900s. It spread around the world, and Pentecostalism was formalised by the 1920s and 30s.

After the Second World War, many began to feel that much of Pentecostalism had lost some of its vigour in the manifestation of some of the gifts of the Spirit. The American Healing movement sparked hunger for what became the Canadian Latter Rain renewal, which had an influence among Pentecostals in America and around the world from 1948-1952.

But many Pentecostal denominations did not embrace the Latter Rain renewal, therefore the movement began flourishing separately from Pentecostal churches, as well as having an influence within the existing churches, from 1952-1960s.

Then in the 1960s and 70s people of nearly all mainline denominational churches also began experiencing the Holy Spirit. It came to be popularly known as the Charismatic Renewal. Like the Latter-Rain Movement before it, it was neo-Pentecostal - so the Latter Rain and Charismatic renewals became virtually indistinct from the other.

Pentecostal churches which had embraced the earlier Latter Rain Revival (such as the Assemblies of God in New Zealand), were quick to also embrace the Charismatic Renewal - and many leaders of the renewal in New Zealand then moved to Australia to minister.

Some Pentecostal churches in Australia which had not been so thoroughly influenced by the earlier Latter Rain Revival (such as the Assemblies of God in Australia), initially denounced some aspects of the Charismatic Renewal. Mainline denominational churches also either embraced or rejected the renewal to varying degrees.

Therefore the Charismatic Movement began flourishing outside of existing churches - many new and powerful churches, movements, missionary-movements, ministries and denominations were birthed - as well as the renewal continuing to have significant influence within existing churches.

By the mid 1980s many Pentecostal and mainline denominational churches had come to be influenced by this neo-Pentecostal, Charismatic, 'Latter Rain' renewal.

Within the Assemblies of God in Australia, a Contemporary Church expression began to develop and dominate many of their churches, not all of which had thoroughly experienced the renewal.

The late 80s and early 90s was a time when many churches experienced considerable growth, due to the fervour of the renewal movement and its outreaches, and Contemporary-style youth outreaches.

But at the same time many churches which had embraced the renewal began waning in some of their expression of the Spirit. Components of Contemporary-style youth outreaches, and also non-charismatic styles of service and outreach, began to be incorporated into the main services and programs of many churches - and manifestations of the Spirit seemed to decline.

So by the mid 1990s, a fresh touch of the Spirit was once again desired. The River Renewal and Revival brought that fresh outpouring, all over the world.

The River renewal didn't bring with it significantly new doctrinal emphases, unlike the previous renewals, so there was variation among Pastors in the significance they saw in the River-renewal.

Many Pastors were willing to embrace the River for a season as a refreshing, then soon went back to their programs, perhaps with their own blends of expression incorporated into it from each previous renewal movement.

While others felt that the outpouring was indicative that the Holy Spirit was once again meant to be given deeper and ongoing expression in church-services. New ministries rose up, spreading the move and maintaining the expression of the Spirit among the churches. Some new River-type churches, movements, ministries and missions started.

So today many churches have varying degrees of evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, neo-Pentecostalism, Latter-Rain, Charismatic, 'Contemporary', and/or River-type renewal - in their doctrine, worship, music and outreach.

Remember: every individual - every generation - needs its Pentecost. An outpouring. Outreach flows from that. Mission is the extension of it.

And along with always keeping the manifestation of the Spirit vibrant and regular in our midst, solid character and doctrine are indispensable. 

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