Initial thoughts after attending my first Global Awakening Conference…
Sue and I were both born again in the midst of a revival. When she got born again she said “I want what they have.” She will have to relate her experience at the conference but suffice it to say she went to the conference with the same heart.
For me, my quest was much more mundane. I just wanted to know if I had made the right decision in affiliating with Global Awakening. I spent a lot of time researching and investigating to see if they would be a good fit for us personally and as a church body but I did not have any first-hand experience with them. I wanted to know if they were “home” for us.
As I mentioned earlier, we both are children of revival. We were born again in the midst of a revival. My first experience in Christianity was that it was “normal” for God to move in supernatural ways. People got saved, baptized, empowered with the Holy Spirit, and moved in the gifts on a regular basis. This was the Christianity that I was shown and bought into. It is what I signed up for. People were healed by the power of God on a regular basis, including me on occasion. It was heaven on earth.
In 1981 I went to Multnomah School of the Bible but soon realized it was not a good fit. It was a cessationist Bible college that didn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit or the present-day working of the Holy Spirit. So in 1982 I transferred my credits to L.I.F.E. Bible college in Los Angeles and continued my education. This was the flagship college of the denomination that my church that had so much of the power of God flowing through it was part of. I attended there until 1985.
What I did not realize was that my church that was heaven on earth to me was part of a renewal movement that was happening within that denomination. It was not indicative of the denomination as a whole.
When I returned to my home church that I thought was heaven on earth, things had changed. My pastor had suffered a heart attack and had moved on to take a less stressful position at another church as an associate pastor. The new pastor did not have the same values as my old pastor. He was leading the church into the “seeker-sensitive” model and away from the “spirit sensitive” model.
Still not realizing that what I had experienced during my formative years as a believer was not indicative of the denomination as a whole, I went and planted my first church and affiliated that church with the denomination I was a part of. I literally called up the district offices and asked them if they wanted a church.
It wasn’t until a couple of years into it that I realized that what we were doing and our philosophy of ministry was tolerated but not embraced. I started to realize that I didn’t fit. It was not the home I had first experienced when I became born again. All told, I spent 30 years in that denomination but it never was what I had been born into.
Fast forward through another church plant and the resurrection of an almost empty building, the pain and tragedy of a divorce, and 8 years of putting out resume’s and getting 185 rejection letters from the churches that were gracious enough to even reply, and finally, God opened the doors for me to re-enter ministry through a Vineyard Church. I had attended and watched the Vineyard movement all throughout my life. I thought they would be a good fit. However, once again, my perception did not fit reality.
I loved John Wimber. I remember him ministering at LIFE Bible college at the chapel and he had a profound impact on my life. I went to the 1985 signs and wonders conference at the Anaheim Vineyard. That conference had as much impact on my life as the early years at Easthill Church. It was again heaven on earth. So I thought that John’s legacy would be still operating in the Vineyard. And it was to a certain extent. However, a lot had changed since John’s passing. I found myself once again being part of the “Holy Spirit Crowd” in a movement that was shifting away from that emphasis. So after 10 years in the Vineyard, Sue and I moved to Mesquite and planted another church and we chose not to automatically affiliate with the Vineyard. This brings us to the point of this post.
I have never wanted to be a lone ranger or part of the resistance to forces or political machinations within a denomination or movement. I just wanted a family to belong to and be part of that is working in harmony. So I went to the conference with the question, “Did I make the right choice?”
We arrived late Wednesday night and were not able to attend the opening night. So Thursday morning we were there and I started listening. The worship was simple and heartfelt. It was not a show, it was adoration. Immediately my heart sang in agreement and my soul was watered. That continued throughout the conference. Although most were different songs than we sang back at my home church growing up, the heart of worship was the same. I posted videos of the evening services. They contain the worship. If you have time, take a look at those videos and I think you will understand what I mean.
But that just set the stage. When the speakers started sharing the word and the message they had for us, for the first time since 1985 my heart was impacted in ways I had forgotten it could be impacted. I heard the still small voice of His Spirit within the words that were being spoken. Whether it was the lesser-known speakers like 27 yr old Brian Starley or Charity Cook, or the so-called big guns like Bill Johnson, Andrew Womack, or Randy Clark, the voice of the Spirit was speaking to my spirit.
I heard more quotes of John Wimber in 4 days than I heard in the 3 conferences combined that I attended of the Vineyard. I saw more opportunities for the Holy Spirit to move than I have seen in years with other groups. Jerry Cook’s (my first pastor) model of letting spirit empowered people to minister in the power of the Spirit was on full display.
Then on Thursday night, I received a download from the Lord. All of a sudden I understood what Global Awakening was about. Not that I speak for them, or that they would even agree with this, but for me, I understood what they were trying to accomplish. For me, as I understand things, they are about equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. (Eph 4:12) They do this through conferences. Kingdom foundations (the one I attended) is the theological framework for the saints doing the work of the ministry. Greater Things conference is about passing along and imparting to others the gifts that God has given to them rather than hoarding what they have learned to themselves. (Romans 1:11-12) And the Cultivate Revival conference is to help you spark His revival in your church.
Understanding that and understanding that leadership is influencing others in their walk with Jesus, my heart all of a sudden experienced the sensation of finally arriving home after a 40-year journey.
I am not sure of all the ramifications of this. How all of this will play out in ministry or application. I only know that my heart is at rest. Home at last. Home at last. Thank God Almighty, I am home at last!