Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Doin' the Stuff

I was speaking to a friend the other day, whom I hadn't spoken to in a while. He asked if Carla and I had found a church yet, after having moved. "No," I admitted, "we haven't yet." I left out that we have somewhat ambivalent feelings about churches (in the traditional sense of the word) and haven't really been looking. He went on to tell me about a church in our neighborhood that he thought we might like. "They are very active in jail ministry and feeding the poor and addiction recovery and outreach to the neighborhood and run a half-way house, etc., etc.", he told me. "Sounds like they're doin' the stuff.", I replied. He chuckled, "I guess so."

His background isn't Vineyard, so he probably hasn't heard the term "doin' the stuff" before. Back when I was in the Vineyard, especially in the halcyon days of the '80's, "doin' the stuff" referred to exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Praying for the sick, casting out demons, having "words of knowledge" and prophetic words, speaking in tongues, etc.

The Vineyard still has a website called dointhestuff.com and there is a tribute website to John Wimber--the late iconic leader of the Vineyard movement--called doin-the-stuff.com.

I grew disillusioned about "doin' the stuff", in the Vineyard sense of the term. Although we spoke about the poor and marginalized, in reality most of the "stuff" was "done" inside the church walls to and by the same middle-class Christians, week after week after week.

Over time, I began to wonder, why weren't see seeing the types of miracles that we read about in our Bibles? Sure, there were plenty of "inner healings" (which are a beautiful thing) and the occasional leg lengthening, but nothing verifiably miraculous. Of course, miracles themselves aren't the point. John Wimber used to warn about "seeking the hand of God, rather than the heart of God". Still, the "stuff" we were "doing" seemed, frankly, kind of lame.

I began to realize something about the miracles in the Bible, especially in the New Testament: They typically occurred in a "missionary" setting. They occurred when the Gospel of Jesus' Lordship was being proclaimed. They occurred in conflict settings; outside of the church walls. They occurred in the midst of people who really needed them.

We had pasteurized and homogenized and packaged and safeguarded "the stuff" and relegated it to the prayer room after Sunday service.

I've come to realize that "the stuff" isn't the charismata itself. "The stuff" is when we to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and release to the oppressed. That's the meat and potatoes. Healings, exorcisms, prophetic words and whatnot are just the gravy that goes on top.

It hadn't really occurred to me until I blurted it out to my friend, but my definition of what "doin' the stuff" means has changed.


Blogger gooditsraining said...

thanks for this post. i enjoy reading what you have to say! peace

10:25 PM  

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