Today we come to the sixth question that my e-mail correspondent asked:
What will all this mean for me—will I have to stop being a conservative reformed believer? If not, what do people like me do differently after we receive the baptism of the Spirit in our churches?
In answer to your first question, of course not! There are an increasing number of people who hold to both reformed theology and an experience of the Holy Spirit. Some do this while still calling themselves cessationists, and there are many reformed brothers who secretly enjoy great intimacy with God. There are also growing numbers who identify themselves clearly as a Reformed Charismatic. Some of the people who could be described as “charismatic with a seatbelt,” and who are therefore good people to fill you with confidence that you do not have to turn away from your conservative roots totally are C. J. Mahaney, John Piper, Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, Mark Driscoll, and Terry Virgo, among others. C. J. Mahaney has even preached for John MacArthur and plays golf with him, so us charismatics can’t all be off our heads!
You are so right to hint at the fact that the implications of all this for church life are profound. I cannot chart out a clear course for you. What I can say is that those very questions are the ones that led people like Terry Virgo to begin building very different types of churches to the ones he had grown up in. So in a sense Newfrontiers and similar groups are one set of answers to that question, but there are others.
You may be interested in reading more about how gifts of the Spirit have functioned in my own experience of being in charismatic churches which very definitely have seat belts firmly applied. I have written a series about this, which was sparked by a previous correspondent. To read those posts, follow the links in my post on tongues and interpretation.
Whatever you do, I wouldn’t rush anything. It is very possible, at least initially, to simply enjoy a deeper relationship with God while everything in your church remains the same. If you are a leader of a church, you may want to try and lead that church through to a similar experience. Be careful, however, and think long and hard about whatever you plan as such a change is much harder than you might initially think. Find someone who has been in church leadership longer than you who can give sound advice about the next steps forward for you as an individual and for your church.