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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

How Many Times Have I Been Asked?

Written by: on March 10, 2017

As a pastor with a Pentecostal persuasion, I cannot tell you how many times I get asked the question, does God speak to us today?  I have been asked in a variety of different ways.  Whether it is being asked the question directly or when people ask me to speak in tongues on command, people are curious about crazy Evangelicals who believe in an active and living God.

Tanya Luhrmann, in her book When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, tries to understand how people that are seemingly normal believe in the miraculous and supernatural.  While Luhrmann who is a trained social scientist tries to describe this phenomenon and I applaud her approach, I do feel she tries to paint with a very broad brush.  First, she attempts to lump all Evangelicals in the same category.  However, not all Evangelicals are created equal.  Not all Pentecostal/charismatics are the same as well, so her work is expansive.  While I could critique much of her work, I do think there is much value to gain from her as a pastor.

Many of the questions I get regarding these issues are generally coming from a pure place.  A friend of mine ask these questions quite a bit.  As I have patiently answered his questions, I have realized that he has been spiritually abused, and it has left him doubting which troubles me greatly.  As a pastor, we are to shepherd the people of God and not abuse them.  Ezekiel had a strong warning for the religious rulers during his day, and I am afraid we could use another warning.

Now, please do not get me wrong, I believe that God speaks to us today.  Whether it is a nudging, a prompting, or at times even in dreams, the reality is our God is supernatural.  He is not within nature and does not necessarily operate within the confines of that nature.  In other words, he is transcendent.  However, that being said, he does confine himself within the revealed word of God.  Therefore, I believe every word, dream, nudging or prompting needs to be viewed in light of the Holy Scriptures.  When we fail to do this and fail to teach our congregants to do this, then we open Pandora ’s Box within our church.  This seems to be what Paul is trying to address in Corinthians which was running wild.

While I am someone who believes that God can and will speak, I also believe that we have a responsibility to steward those moments.  We also should be careful never to elevate experiences over the Word.  It is often a delicate balance.  Often times, it can be messy and cumbersome.  We should not be afraid of these moments, but ask God to help us navigate the moment.  We serve a supernatural and living God.  He is never fully understood nor embraced by those who do not believe in Him, and neither are those that follow Him.  Therefore, I believe we should lean into the supernatural but have clear lines that we do not cross.

About the Author

mm

Jason Kennedy

I am a pastor of a thriving church in Grapevine, Texas. With two little girls (5,8), and a wife that is a medical doctor (family practice), life is non-stop.

13 responses to “How Many Times Have I Been Asked?”

  1. Claire Appiah says:

    Jason,
    I thought it was interesting that people want to hear you speak in tongues on command. As a seasoned pastor, you are probably familiar with much of the content of Luhrmann’s book. I was wondering if there is anything in the book that offers new insights or perspectives that contribute to the enhancement of your life, ministry, or dissertation research?

  2. Pablo Morales says:

    Jason, you sound bapticostal (:

    Your description of your friend resonated with my experience. You said about him, “I have realized that he has been spiritually abused, and it has left him doubting which troubles me greatly.” Sadly, I have come across this type of Christian often. Some come from charismatic backgrounds were the “supernatural” turned out to be “superfake”. Some others come from fundamentalist churches were they were wounded by leaders who misused the written Word of God. What I realize is that any pastor can mislead people and minister with a misinformed faith. Therefore, I appreciate your call: “As a pastor, we are to shepherd the people of God and not abuse them.” May this be true of us as we navigate the fine line between our supernatural God and the misperceptions of our own humanness.
    Pablo

  3. Kevin Norwood says:

    Jason,

    I believe the word that was used at ORU was “mysteries:” things in this Christian faith that cannot be explained. God is still speaking and moving today and I bet you are experiencing that where you are at today. How do you explain that to someone who has not come to faith yet? C.S. Lewis was quoted in this book about the Christian walk: some things you don’t understand about being a Christian until you have been on the journey for a while. What is the greatest mystery that you have had to explain to someone who is a “seeker?”

    Kevin

    • Jason KENNEDY says:

      Kev,
      I agree. All of faith is mysterious. I the challenge I get faced with the most is tongues. People understand or can accept healing and even words of knowledge. Tongues is really difficult.

      Jason

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Jason:
    Great post! My takeaway was much like yours. I do believe that God still speaks.

    Here is my question, early in her book she alluded to the voice of God:
    “In fact, what I saw was that coming to a committed belief in God was more like learning to do something than to think something. I would describe what I saw as a theory of attentional learning – that the way you learn to pay attention determines your experience of God.” (xxi)

    Does it bother you that there seems to be an alignment with “attentional learning” and hearing the voice of God?

    Hope you are enjoying Israel.

    Phil

    • Jason KENNEDY says:

      Yes. I think non believers think faith is forced upon people. I think there is a nurture side to it for sure. However, to think that there is no nurturing in secularism or atheism is ridiculous. The latter is abnormal because we are wired to believe in something bigger.
      Jason

  5. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Jason !
    A Revelation blog… making it plain, because God speaks to us through the Bible.
    The word of God is the will of God, therefore the bible is our guidebook for life.. That is why we need to read God’s Word every day. If you’re not having a daily quiet time and reading the Bible, God is getting a busy signal when he wants to speak to you. You have to keep a constant connection, because God’s will is found in God’s Word
    Thanks for the “Word of God”
    Blessing Rose Maria

  6. Hi Jason. I agree with your “test” of dreams etc being from God as weighed against scripture. Have you read any books that have “taught” you how to hear God?

  7. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Jason,
    Great blog. One of the great takeaways from your blog is the idea that “we have a responsibility to steward those moments” when God speaks to us. I’ve been guilty at different seasons in my ministry of not being a good steward but I’ve been intentional in recent years. Thanks for the reminder to steward those God moments.

    Garfield

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