On Blogging: A Challenge to Pentecostals

On Blogging: A Challenge to Pentecostals

KeyboardI want to say a few words about the power of blogging on a personal level. And I want to challenge my fellow quiet Pentecostals and Charismatics to pick up the keyboard and begin writing.

Words have Consequences
A friend on an email message group recently asked me about the effectiveness of ministering through a blog. So I’d been thinking about that when a couple things landed in my inbox that encouraged me and seem to illustrate the answer to his question. Writing in a public forum — whether blogging, managing a web page, or crafting freelance articles for a newspaper or magazine — can have an effect.

First up, from Amber, who sent me a nice note via my online contact form:

« I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog.  … Your blog is always honest and open, you don’t shy away from even the hard stuff in your comments. After joining the Assemblies at 16, I soon discovered that opinions and controversy and doubt are all too often a flag for that person needing to “get saved” again.

I have just recently left the Assemblies … but a part of it is still in me, hopefully the good parts. And honestly, I think all of those good parts are what you portray here at your blog.

Thanks for being there and restoring a little of my fragile hope for humanity. »

That email, alone, will probably fuel me up for another hundred or so blog entries. :: grin :: This is as good as money in the bank for me. What I like about this note, apart from the nice complimentary language, is that Amber is telling me she has been changed by what she’s read.

After blogging for nearly a year, it is heartening and humbling to know that what I write here — and your comments, too — influence people. I hope I never forget that.

Next up, a fellow blogger winds up apologizing to Becky Fischer (of Jesus Camp fame) after I defended her on his weblog. Here is what he sent (and also posted publicly):


Thanks for your comments.  … Re-reading my post, I guess I realized that I focused my anger and embarrassment toward the wrong party. I was just about to write an update to my post when I received your comments.

Thank you.

I went to your website and read your long post. I need to apologize to Becky Fischer. My reaction shouldn’t have been directed toward her — it should have been toward those who made the documentary. I guess, in simplified terms, I am just tired of Christians being made fun of  — and I’m tired of Christians putting themselves into a position to be made fun of.

That, too, floats my boat, and humbles me with the reminder of the power of words. We can bring peace into people’s lives by simply using  … words. (It’s not always that easy, but little victories like this are very worthwhile.) Further, you never know what else is going on in someone’s life when they read your words. I cannot take full credit for changing my fellow blogger’s mind about Becky Fischer: as it happens, something else happened to realign his thinking and his judgment. I just happened to be there commenting while it happened.

Beware and be humbled: words have consequences.

My challenge to fellow Pentecostals and Charismatics
I want you!I’m not writing this to promote my blog, or to make me look better than I am. What I’m hoping, here, is to simply demonstrate the power of making your voice heard and felt in the public square. Far too often we Pentecostals closet ourselves in our warm little sanctuaries of praise and worship, hellfire and brimstone, or name-it and claim-it. We need to engage with the public. We need to engage with other believers.

We need to be willing to be engaged, as well.

I’m not saying we need to stand on a soap-box and rail at everybody who comes within ear-shot, but we do need to demonstrate the changed lives and changed thinking that I believe must lie at the heart of the Pentecostal experience.

Don’t worry — if you have nothing to say, you shouldn’t get out there and try saying it. You’ll just be frustrated and inauthentic, attempting to do something that either God hasn’t gifted you to do, or you simply aren’t ready to do.

But when I read 1 John 14 and Acts 1, I see something in Christ’s promise of the Spirit that should be common to all believers and especially Pentecostals and charismatics — because we embrace the empowerment of the Spirit for witness. In John 14, Jesus told his disciples that the coming Spirit would be with them and in them and would always guide and teach them, reminding them of all that he had taught them. And in Acts 1, Jesus made it clear that the purpose of the experience of the Baptism of the Spirit was empowerment for witness.

The Holy Spirit’s role as reminder and empowerer
First, he cannot remind us of what we have not learned. The disciples had a leg up on us in that they argued with Christ, supped with him, slept nearby, and slogged the dusty roads alongside. Every teaching moment was stored up in their hearts as mysterious and precious treasures. The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, would keep those memories fresh — not as nostalgia, but as a mentor or a teacher keeps his students’ minds sharp by constantly reviewing what has been learned. For it’s only in light of what we know to be true that we can make future wise judgments.

That is the role of the Holy Spirit as teacher: not that he would implant in our heads the collective knowledge of 2,000 years of theology and deep-thought (though that’s not a miraculous and exceptional impossibility, I suppose), but that he would help us focus our thinking that his Word might be written on our hearts. For this to work as promised, we must first be disciples, we must steep ourselves in scripture reading, reflection, and study. For the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking, we must become disciples of Jesus through the Word.

There are no shortcuts. We must become students.

But too many of us (Pentecostal or otherwise) are not studious. So when the winds of strange doctrine come along  … well. You know what happens.

Second, the empowerment of the Pentecostal experience is not primarily to be “holy,” saintly, modestly attired, non-smokin’, non-cussin’, and abstemiously non-drinkin’. Indeed, those (and other things) are the behavioral fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives in forming us into Christ-likeness — but this is a product of salvation and sanctification, not necessarily the Baptism of the Spirit.

Rather, the empowerment of the Pentecostal experience is for witness. And witness requires deed and word. How can they believe unless they have heard, and how can they hear unless you have spoken (or preached, or taught, or written, or blogged, or commented, or emailed)? I agree with the sentiment that an effective form of personal evangelism is through friendship, love, and a consistent lifestyle of modeling Christ to others. But there comes a time when we must speak and make God’s thoughts known.

God did not command us to fellowship or worship that we might make disciples. He commanded us to go and make disciples.

The church building is not the net, we are God’s fishermen.

We need to think of making disciples as our primary obligation — our first duty — to share the good news of what we have been given, and that can only be done by rubbing shoulders (virtual, or otherwise) with those who have not believed, who are not discipled, or who simply think differently. Evangelism and discipleship, in my mind are on equal footing for there can be no true evangelism without genuine followers of Christ.

In my blog, I suppose, I am discipling remotely and being discipled — hoping to simultaneously shape my own thoughts and (hopefully) the thoughts of others as they interact with me in my journey in spiritual growth and transformation. My blogging is a public spiritual discipline. I hope this process, if authentic, produces more than just people who agree or disagree with me, but people who are somehow touched and changed, minuscule degree by degree. I’m a waterer.

And I’m also being watered by you.

Finally — I don’t mean to be a jeremiad or a rant. And I certainly don’t intend to try to “sell” any of you on the virtues of blogging — there are many good Christians who get caught up in the blogging phenomenon to the detriment of their souls. You should not blog — seriously, you shouldn’t — unless God is calling you and gifting you to do so. And you should do so with care that you not become cynical or sniping in your commentary.

I hope, with what I’ve written here, if the Spirit has been prompting you to pick up the keyboard and feed yourself and others, that this encourages you to do so.

If you do, be sure to let me know!


[tags]1-John, 1-John-14, Acts, Acts-1, AOG, Assemblies-of-God, Assembly-of-God, Baptism-of-the-Spirit, Becky-Fischer, blog, blogger, blogging, BlogRodent, Charismatic, consequences, discipleship, empowerment, Evangelical, Evangelism, Holy-Spirit, Jesus-Camp, Pentecostal, Pentecostals, Rich-Tatum, words[/tags]

12 thoughts on “On Blogging: A Challenge to Pentecostals

  1. jim

    Rick: Can I ask you your view on being “empowered”? Well, I guess I just did! I find most tend to see it as some sort of permanent transformation in themselves created by a one-time entrance of the Spirit. My own thoughts hold it more in terms of an entrance of the Holy Ghost that then “comes up out of an inner well” to meet me as I go. In other words, He retains and is “the Authority”, not me. The best I do is stumble along, learning as I go, to decrease that He might increase. What say ye, my friend?….

  2. Marc V

    I blog, therefore I yam (a spud).

    I’ve never thought of blogging as a “calling”, but that makes sense. I’ve posted to get stuff off of my chest, to answer the voices in my head, and sometimes I even find a few e-buddies. ;)

    As Pentecostal bloggers (ooh, not sure if I’m likin’ a label attachment!), we do need to seek righteousness, set a steady course and go the extra post to explain the power of the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives. It still amazes me how many Christians are confused and forsake the Holy Spirit, when His power and opportunity for His help are clearly stated in the New Testament. Ah well, you can only try to explain it one post at a time.

    My humble plea is for God to be glorified in every post. I sometimes fall short, but that is my goal.

  3. Rich Post author

    Jim, thanks for stopping by. I agree with you.

    Luke wrote in Acts 9:22 that Paul “grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”

    I think this “dunamis” (Greek, from which we get “dynamo,” “dynamite,” “dynamic,” and so forth) empowerment is both occassional, continual, and incremental. It’s occassional because we see contexts in the NT where “power” is given to do certain things, but those are special occassions: healing, miracles, prophecy, and so forth. Continual in that as long as the Holy Spirit is present (and he is always present for the believer), one would presume that he empowerment for witness and deed is also present. The question is whether we are able to “grasp” that power. (The Greek in Acts 1:8 uses the future tense of “lambano,” which is usually translated “shall receive,” but “lambano” has an active sense of apprehension, it’s not a passive reception. It’s often translated “take” or “grasp” as well as “receive.”) And it’s in that sense, I believe, that the empowerment promised by the Holy Spirit, while always available, is not always grasped.

    What we see in Acts 9:22, with Paul actively defending the gospel, is a man who is reaching, ever reaching, for greater empowerment. And that empowerment for witness grew.

    From 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul describes in greater detail the outworkings of the charismata that are the consequences of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes it clear that “the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet,” and that one has some control over the exercise of the spiritual gifts.

    Clearly, this empowerment by the Holy Spirit is the “dynamic” source of the charismata. However, we are the willing agents of that power, and we must willingly diminish our own power that His may flow more freely. As Paul wrote to the Romans, it is the Holy Spirit that pours his love into our hearts … and love is the greatest charismata of all. And as we pour out his love it must be continually replenished within us.

    The initial result of the outpouring in Acts was praise and worship. As Christ promised in John 14, the Holy Spirit always directs our attention back to Jesus. I think that if our attention is wandering away from Christ, his work, and his majesty, we are either not in tune with the Holy Spirit or we have effectively shut him out.

    To maintain access to that empowerment, then, we must walk in the Spirit, we must maintain our focus on Christ, we must keep his word in our hearts. We must be “living sacrifices,” the kind of sacrifice that stays on the altar. That’s the kind of worship we are called to, and that’s the kind of life God empowers.

    At least, that’s what I think in this wee small hour of the morning. Ask me in five hours, my answer might be different. :: grin ::


  4. tiolou


    After blogging for a grand total of two-weeks, I was thinking of…well, I was considering verbal suicide…deleting my blog site. I know…deletion is the easy way out. After reading your post…maybe I can make it for another week.  Keep up the great work!



  5. jim

    Rich: Thanks for answering my query. I find much in agreement with what you have presented, the “spirits of the prophets” being subject to the prophets understood in the sense that we can choose to yield or not yield ourselves unto Him as a vessel for the manifestation. Always: He remains Lord; we are but the vessel; and yes, we “must willingly diminish our own power that His may flow”. It is also Paul who writes that it is when we are weak, we are made strong. So, while I would not argue your Greek translation of “grasp”, I do think there are more than a few nowadays who do not “grasp” that the empowerment is but another name for “Holy Ghost”. He leads us. It doesn’t work the other way around. Peace, my friend. An thanks again…..

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  7. Rich Post author


    Thanks for commenting!

    I suppose I hadn’t thought of blogging as a calling, either, but it only makes sense to me now to see it that way. Otherwise it’s a mere pass-time or hobby. Anyone who is equipped and gifted to write should do so in God’s service, just as anyone who is equipped to fix motors should do so in God’s service. That doesn’t mean writing religion-only blogs or servicing only Christian-owned small-block motors, but it does mean doing whatever you do in such a way that we feel God’s pleasure, like Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire,

    “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

    Like you, I fall short of my own goals. But at least I desire God’s handiwork to be displayed in my life, whether blogging or jogging, and I hope I’m yielded enough for that to come through.

    Hey, Lou,

    You could never truly commit verbicide, I know. Shucks, you could simply repost some of your more lucid moments from your email discussions and still have enough to fill a book. And that’s just the lucid stuff! You could fill a whole ‘nuther book with Beaudreaux, Thibodeaux, and Jeanfreaux’s antics.


    I agree, he leads us. Any of my ponderings of the implications of “grasp” and dunamis should not be confused with thinking that the Holy Spirit is merely a tool or a source of power like my wall-sockets are. The power flows from the relationship and is blocked by pride.



  8. Gavin White

    I agree — the power of blogging ‘truth’ as a spirit filled christian is a great way of getting the message of the Kingdom of God out to the world and to a wider audience…that’s the power of the media which as Christians we need to use for all its possibility and capacity

  9. Rich Post author

    Thanks for stopping by, Gavin.

    Unfortunately, too many Christian bloggers are busy sniping and fisking each other to do much good in that arena.


  10. Jim

    Rich, thanks for the valuable points you make about Christians/Pentecostals blogging and speaking up. I’m not a Pentecostal believer, although my wife and I both have our early roots in Pentecostal and Charismatic camps.

    Every “camp” of Christian believers needs to be a big part of what is being said in the world today. In our silence, the world becomes filled only with darkness from the other side. Yet Christ has made His body of many parts, and we each have an important and vital perspective to share on what God is doing in the here and now, as well as what He has planned for all who love Him.

    Thanks for your blog and for the things you share with folks via the Internet. God’s best.

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