Big thanks to Ryan VanderHelm, who after connecting on Facebook, we figured out we lived in the same town! A radical for Jesus and a brotha in the Lord. Here are his thoughts…
Among Christian churches, you would be hard pressed to find two as different as the Anglican church and Charismatic church. One takes pride in it’s history and tradition, the other takes pride in how relevant it is. One emphasizes doing things the “right” way, and is very planned out and orderly about everything it does, while the other emphasizes spontaneity and tries it’s best to be as little planned out as possible. Because of these differences, I had a very interesting experience the last couple of Sundays, because on one Sunday I went to an Anglican church, and the next I went to a Charismatic church. Observing this stark contrast in forms of church service led me to think about how should we do worship? For both churches did different things beautifully, and both missed out on other things. So here’s a little reflection of mine about what both do well, what both might miss, and is there a way to balance the two.
I went to the Anglican church first, so I’ll start there. This was not only the first time I had ever been to an Anglican church, but any sort of liturgical church, so the day involved many new experiences for me. First time smelling incense, first time crossing myself in church, first time taking actual wine with communion, so I have to confess a little culture shock. I sat next to my friend who brought me and spent much of the service with my eyes glued on him, thinking “Do exactly as he does… Do exactly as he does.” Even with this vigilance, I made mistakes, and sincerely hope I didn’t offend anyone. However, I really did enjoy the service. The two things that stood out to me the most were 1, how everything that was done was done for a reason, and had symbolic meaning attached to it, and 2, how incredibly reverent it was. In this service, one couldn’t help but realize how incredible it is that we get to enter into the presence of Almighty God, and worship Him. Take a moment and think about that. On Sunday, you get to enter into the presence of the God who made everything from the very stars of heaven to the mighty forests to the grass on your lawn to you, and you get to worship him. And then you get to why you get to do that (Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection), and at that point I don’t think there are enough words in all the languages of the earth to adequately express how incredible that is. Point for the Anglican church.
Now lets look at the Charismatic church. Well, like the Anglican church, it has it’s peculiarities and it’s quirks. In a Charismatic church, the catch phrase is “as you are led by the Holy Spirit.” which, if you’re from a CRC/Presbyterian background like I am, seems a little weird at first. We’re not used to all this freedom in worship. We’re the frozen chosen and don’t know how to dance! And then there’s all that emphasis on the gifts of the spirit. You have people come up and prophesy, or speak in tongues, or heal with prayer on the spot. And at first it feels a little weird, a little uncomfortable. But I like the Charismatic church. I’ve been going to one for about a semester now, and have really enjoyed it. Charismatic’s understand that we have the joy of the Lord, and sometimes that means you can’t just stand still, or stay silent. In a Charismatic church, you can feel the emotion and the passion of a people deeply in love with God.
Both the Anglican and Charismatic churches have their quirks, and the things they do beautifully, but they also miss out on some things. The Anglican church really gets reverence, but it misses the palpable emotion or passion of the Charismatic church. And while the Charismatic Church definitely has emotion and passion, it seems to miss the reverence that the Anglican church showed. It’s not that the Charismatic church was irreverent, or the Anglican church was emotionless, they just aren’t as emphasized. So is there a middle ground? If so, where is it? Maybe it’s in a mix, where half the service is done Anglican-style, and half Charismatic-style. Or maybe it’s back in the “frozen chosen” camp of CRC/Presbyterian churches. Or maybe it’s in another kind of church that I’ve never been to before. But I kind of doubt it. It seems to me that a church can emphasize one or the other, and maybe there isn’t really much of a middle ground on this one. Instead the church has to trust it’s members to make up for what might be missing in its services outside of the actual service. The Anglicans need to have that emotion and passion out of church, even though it isn’t as present in their actual services. And the Charismatics need to remember reverence toward God outside of church, even though it isn’t as emphasized in their actual service.