I remember the conversation well. I was a frustrated pastor and I wasn't sure who I could vent to, so I called my dad. "I just don't know what to do anymore. I wish I could pastor a charismatic Mennonite church."
I grew up in conservative evangelical churches. And while I am very thankful for my heritage, I always felt like something was missing. I desired more. I wanted to experience the power of God I read about in the Gospels and throughout the book of Acts.
Late in my teens, I confessed to a friend my hunger for more. He invited me to his charismatic church. While I was very hesitant to go, I decided to give it a try. I was overwhelmed with what I experienced! For the first time in my life I "felt" God and witnessed life altering miracles with my own eyes. It was amazing. It seemed to be exactly what I was searching for. I became "filled with the Spirit" and even attended Victory Bible College, where I learned about faith and healing and how to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. It was awesome.
Shortly after Bible College I moved to Canmore and began pastoring my own church. We were charismatic in every sense of the term. And while we did regularly see the absolute miraculous, that haunting feeling of "something is missing" began to resurface in me. It suddenly dawned on me that although we had witnessed amazing healings and miracles, we had not led one person to Jesus in a couple of years. In fact, we hadn't seen a visitor in months. The talk in the community was that we were the 'weird' church. What were we doing all of this for? I desired to reach the lost, and I knew our 'conservative' churches regularly saw salvations, but I did not want to have to compromise the power of the Spirit to do so. That's when I called my dad.
I desired to see the best of both worlds. I wanted the family atmosphere of a Mennonite church (and the food). :) I longed to see the focus on Jesus and ability to impact a community like the Baptists and the Alliance did. I desired to see the awe and respect of Father God that the Catholics and Anglicans had. And I wanted to experience the power of the Holy Spirit like the charismatics. But how?
During this time I attended a Men's Conference in Lake Louise and the main speaker was Pastor Leon Fontaine. He was pastoring a charismatic church in Winnipeg, the Mennonite capital of Canada, and the church was growing exponentially. At the time of the conference, the church was seeing over 300 salvations per month! And yet, he spoke of the miraculous, the healings, and the power of the Holy Spirit. I was intrigued. I began to subscribe to his weekly sermons and was amazed at how he communicated. He was very matter-of-fact about the miraculous and the gifts of the Spirit seemed "normal" in his church. They weren't weird about it and these gifts were actually attracting the lost, not repelling them - like we see in the book of Acts.
For the first time I was witnessing what I desired the most - a spirit-filled, evangelical church that was enjoying the best of both worlds. This was such an anomaly that church growth expert, the late Jack Whitesell, coined a term just to describe Springs Church. He called it "Spirit Contemporary." They were both Spirit-filled and Seeker Sensitive.
Since that time, I have become friends with Pastor Leon and we have bantered about this "Spirit Contemporary" concept quite a bit. It has caught on in churches all around the world. In fact, most of the fastest growing churches in Canada and around the world are Spirit Contemporary in one form or another. To watch a short video of Leon defining Spirit Contemporary in more detail click here.
Questions: Do you have that feeling something is missing? Is your church experiencing the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and seeing regular salvations?