This week a video clip from a 1996 service with Kenneth Hagin popped up on my newsfeed. Evangelist Daniel Kolenda posted it over a month ago with this short caption, “Have a drink this morning!! (Be careful not to judge too quickly. This is very holy).” It had already racked up 1.6 million views before I saw it.
Though I never had the honor of hearing Kenneth Hagin in person, I have been greatly impacted by his writing. Being able to see him minister in this short clip is a blessing. It took me back to that wonderful season of outpouring millions experienced during the late 1990s. During that time, moments like the one captured in this clip were not just limited to one man or church. Revival fire had spread across the United States. Congregations were growing quickly as people came through the doors simply seeking more. The altars were packed every week with repentant souls. Prayer meetings were filled not only with people, but power. The Holy Spirit was allowed to move with freedom in the church, and the effects were life-changing.
Yes, moments like the one in this video happened often. Were they strange? To the flesh—absolutely. However, there was also an awe to these moments that often produced a deeper hunger and desire for the things of God.
I remember so many similar moments during this time. Times when you would become so aware of the presence of the Lord that you could only stand or lay in absolute stillness and silence (2 Chron. 5:14). These reverent moments could sometimes last for hours. Other times such joy would overcome individuals that the effect was intoxicating (Eph. 5:18-19). I’ve been in services where hundreds of people would burst into uncontainable weeping and wailing as they interceded for lost souls. These are the wordless groans Paul writes about (Rom. 8:26). No doubt, to an outside observer, such moments are indeed a strange thing.
That was the original reaction recorded on that very first Pentecost when thousands watched the initial 120 receive the baptism of the Spirit. The Bible says, “They were all amazed and perplexed, saying to each other, “What does this mean?” Others mocking said, “These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:12-13).
Not surprisingly, just a few quick glances through the comments on this video, and I see the same criticisms Spirit-filled believers have always faced. One person wrote, “This is witchcraft.” Another, “This clearly is satanic and demonic,” or “This video is creepy.”
I can understand their apprehension—at one time that was me. To those who don’t understand, I offer this advice: Judge every work by its fruit. Scripture instructs us, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (1 John 4:1-2). Buried in the many comments was this post from a gentleman who simply wrote, “I was in this service—life-changer.” This is the test of any manifestation of the Spirit. If the Spirit of God is truly at work, you’ll see lives transformed in Christ. That only comes by way of the Spirit of God.
I love that many of these holy moments are finding their way out of the archives and being shared once again. These embers from the past are needed at this time. They remind us of our Pentecostal roots and serve as a rebuke to what we’ve lost.
My friend, do you wonder where these holy moments are happening today? I do! Has the 21st-century American Pentecostal church become too polished, too perfect or too performance-driven for such a holy moment to break out in our midst? I am afraid so! Imagine your church this Sunday if such an outbreak occurred. I pray it does!
“Pentecost without the weird,” has become the aim of so many today. They desire a church warmed by Pentecostal fire but not consumed by it. So far, this has proven an effective model for growth, allowing many Pentecostal churches to become the largest in their communities.
I know some of these leaders well. They are amazing believers with an unquestionable love for the Lord and people. Their own testimonies include powerful encounters with the Spirit of God and their own holy-moment stories. Yet these holy moments don’t happen in their churches. Why?
In our personal conversations, they say to me, “Daniel, you can’t grow a church that way.”
Though these moments marked their own past, they are shunned in the present. Why? They have a plan, a program and model that works well. They truly believe in the system in place and have become beholden to it. Such holy moments are viewed as disruptive to the status quo, so they are not sought after and often actively discouraged.
Many can remember a time when the Spirit-filled church was an outcast in the city. It was dwarfed numerically by the traditional evangelical church in town. They were labeled as chandelier-swinging fanatics and regularly mocked. However these churches existed and endured because there was a group of believers who desperately desired more of the Spirit. They simply believed that a Bible filled with accounts of life-altering encounters with the Lord were not just stories—they were invitations. It was that desire for more that made them distinct.
When was the last time a word in tongues was heard in the sanctuary? When was the last time a prophetic word was delivered? When was the last time hands were laid on hungry seekers and they were filled with the Holy Spirit? When was the last time an indescribable holy moment took place?
Today, the pursuit of numeric success has caused many Spirit-filled churches to lose that Pentecostal distinctive. They have become to this century what the non-Pentecostal evangelical church was in the previous century. Sure the worship has more energy, and the preaching has more emotion, but aside from the words on the screen, there is little different from week to week. They are absent of these life-changing holy moments that are never forgotten.
I long for those moments to become widespread once again. Let us remember where we came from, not to find a path backward, but a way forward. If revival is to be more than a common word we use, it must become something (or more accurately Someone) we choose to pursue. It’s time to clear the stage and program and make room for the Holy Spirit to once again move with freedom within His church.
Just as it was true decades ago, there is still a people who long for much more than a professional and polished Pentecostal church. They are a growing remnant that is convinced a life-altering encounter with God is not only possible, but paramount. That desire is growing, week by week as they become increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo. Something is about to break—or break out.
How do I know? It’s just like the song sung at the end of this clip says, “Just one dose of the Holy Ghost, is not enough!” I want more!