Holy Spirit Thou Art Welcome In This Place - Really?

A disclaimer: I am making broad, sweeping generalizations in this post.

The UMC seems to be very good at worshipping and proclaiming the Father and the Son, but falls short when it comes to the Spirit. Why is that?

It seems that Mr. Wesley was quite interested in the role of the third person of the Trinity and some scholars argue that he was an advocate of the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" as essential to the regenareation process. My seminary training did not give me much opportunity to explore the role of the Holy Spirit in terms of my developing theology, ecclesiology, missiology and whatever "ology" my professors were attempting to persuade me to formulate prior to receiving a Master of Divinity degree; nor was there much conversation about the role of the Holy Spirit during my candidacy process (I think there may have been one question concerning the Holy Spirit in my provisional paperwork).

For better or for worse, I was a full-blown charismatic prior to my migration to Methodism, and had the opportunity to observe and experience the work (and dare I say manipulation) of the Holy Spirit in several different "holiness" contexts. However, much of who I am today, I owe to the charismatic churches that I spent time in. My life was transformed by the power of the Spirit in a charismatic church; I was married in a charismatic church; I learned to lead others in a charismatic church; and I experienced God in charismatic churches in ways that I have not since: and that is what concerns me.

For all that I loved and appreciated about the charismatic churches that I spent time in, I always felt that something was sorely lacking. As a United Methodist, I feel that I found what I was missing, but I also feel that I left something behind, and more and more I am convinced that that something is the Spirit.

The Spirit of God, acoording to Scripture is the power source of God in the life of the believer; the comforter in times of grief, pain, loneliness, and despair; the counselor when wisdom and guidance are needed; the convicter who makes me aware of my sins and leads me back to the cross; the one to whom I am called to submit and hand over control so that I might produce the kind of fruit that God desires.
It is this Spirit that I oftentimes feel is disregarded in our churches - or is, perhaps, mentioned frequently throughout the year (we can't really avoid speaking of the Spirit during Pentecost, can we?), but reduced to a theological category that is strategically controled and limited.

I return to my initial disclaimer now, reminding myself that I am making broad, sweeping generalizations. Perhaps my brief experience with the UMC has misled me with regard to this issue. I'm curious. Is the Holy Spirit welcome in our churches? And if so, how is that happening?


  1. Hi Sean- this is the first of your blogs that I have read, but I will start reading and keep reading from now on! This is very powerful, not to mention honest, and also very true in reality. When I went through confirmation and attended Methodist Church camps and even became a youth counselor, I was, like you, always confused about one thing- the Holy Spirit. What is it? Where is it? We mention it...we know of it...but where is it in our lives!? Finally, my mom gave me the best explanation. She explained to me that the Holy Spirit is found in each individual. It acts as a "translator" for our hearts to God. It serves as a messenger and, as you said, a guidance counselor type of being. So... from then on, I welcome the Holy Spirit every time I pray. It is there saying what my heart really needs to say to God. It reads me and guides my mind during sermons. It translates the message of God to me and allows my heart to fully accept all of its worth. So, although the church doesn't really remind us of the Holy Spirit a whole lot, I remind myself constantly. The Holy Spirit is within me...in my heart and in my soul...guiding me in Godly ways and saying what my heart can't vocalize for itself. So... while my response isn't as "scholarly" as yours and I don't have NEARLY the knowledge and intellect of the subject like you... I have an elementary perspective on the Holy Spirit- which helps me to subside any confusion. :-)


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