The Local ‘Florida’ Meeting

I started writing my posts about Todd Bentley and the ‘Florida Outpouring’, because I had been invited to a meeting locally to discuss whether we should do something in Chelmsford about it. That meeting took place yesterday afternoon. Much of it was fine, but today I am kicking myself about parts of it.

What was good? Quite a bit, actually. There was a clear distinction between the problematic aspects of Bentley and the sense that God was nevertheless doing something. Maybe not all that it was always claimed to be – there was an acknowledgment that in the excitement, too much might be being claimed at times. The two or three people present who had actually been to Lakeland recognised that some things should be rejected or put aside. They carefully linked the work of God to the concentration on worship there. They recognised that Bentley behaves in certain ways, because he is a particular personality type, and others would behave differently. They affirmed that the Florida style should not be transplanted or copied, but that the genuine struggle to find a local expression should be undertaken. We all accepted that conversion is the greatest miracle. Everyone expressed pastoral concern for people with different views or attitudes. We raised questions about ‘Why go to a particular location to receive?’ and kept talking about discernment.

Having said that, why am I today uncomfortable? I felt there was a rush to get something done. People said that unless we acted quickly, the moment might pass. Instead of having a harvest, we might have just the rotten fruit at the end of the harvest. Is that a tacit acceptance that this is something passing? Does God have no room for the cautious, who genuinely take time to weigh something up? Who puts us under pressure to rush: is it God or the enemy? I think that needs debating. Of course, salvation is urgent, but as someone who makes his best decisions slowly, I’m a little nervous.

Then – let’s suppose we’re right that Bentley behaves in a certain way as a consequence of being a particular personality type. He probably differs from me in three, if not all four sections of Myers Briggs. Is that a reason for checking in our brains at the door? I still think not. This is where the Body of Christ comes into play, with differing gifts all contributing to the whole. Those of us who feel called to use our brains as an act of worship have something important to offer here. Yes, the ‘experiential’ type people can help ensure we don’t become dry and dusty academics, but we bring important gifts to the Body, too.

My other discomfort was over something slipped in near the end that – to my shame – I didn’t challenge. I had made it clear in the meeting that I felt the ‘violent’ approach of Bentley was wrong. One man who had been to Lakeland spoke of how God had told him to punch someone who needed healing on the arm. Later, this person told the man that he was much better. Does that prove he was right, or am I still right to be queasy about this approach? I think the latter. Why do we accept such claims so easily? Is it because we are so desperate for something to happen that we drop our critical faculties? ‘The Lord said’ trumps everything. It needs weighing.

The meeting concurred that we needed to meet for further prayer (although there was also general consensus about ‘doing something together’). I am awaiting an email with a suggested date for a day of prayer. I shall have to raise my concern at that point and not feel inhibited or pressured to stay silent.Technorati Tags: , ,


  1. “I felt there was a rush to get something done. People said that unless we acted quickly, the moment might pass. Instead of having a harvest, we might have just the rotten fruit at the end of the harvest. Is that a tacit acceptance that this is something passing? Does God have no room for the cautious, who genuinely take time to weigh something up? Who puts us under pressure to rush: is it God or the enemy? I think that needs debating.”

    It has been my experience (so far, anyway), that if there is pressure to do something RIGHT NOW or you will MISS OUT and screw everything up, that’s not God. God does not rules us with fear. He said in 2 Timothy 1:7 that He did not give us spirit of fear.

    Hmm… I think that the enemy will try to push us into doing something without thinking it through and getting God’s heart by pushing the idea that if we don’t act right now, we will miss it and everything will be ruined – or at least we will miss out on getting our portion.

    In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, we are encouraged to test or prove all things and only hold onto what proves to be good. Testing requires a little time. 😉

    And, of course, God said to come and reason with Him (my take, come here an let’s sit down and discuss this until you understand). (Isaiah 1:18)

    God’s Wisdom to you,


  2. Katherine,

    Thanks for the encouraging cautionary comment. In fairness to some, they felt that everyone had already been praying about it, and we didn’t need further prayer to know our minds before God. But having said that, I still don’t like the pressure to rush. I like your take on the Scriptures you quote, not least your interpretation of Isaiah 1:18.

    (BTW, still got that other post in my mind, but am far from being organised in my thoughts.)


  3. Dave, while I understand that no one wants to be rushed, I also recognise “let’s meet again to pray about it” as a typical response of committees etc who have no intention of actually doing anything about what is proposed. In other words, delaying tactics. If that is what you all intended, be honest about it. Then perhaps those who are keen to do something can do something on a smaller scale, mainly in their own churches, without those who are unconvinced. But if all or most of you genuinely want to do something, then why put it off?

    Anyway I see the danger of something planned by a group of churches being watered down so much to satisfy the lowest common denominator that it becomes a pale and powerless imitation of the real Florida thing. I don’t mean that Lakeland should just be copied, just that decisions on what should be done should not be based on compromises between different churches. So maybe it is better if one or two churches pick this up and run with it, allowing others to come on board if they want to but not waiting for them.

    (Note here that I speak entirely for myself, not for my church or for anyone else at the meeting, and have no information on this meeting apart from what I have read here.)


  4. Peter,

    Good to hear from you again. I think you make some entirely fair points based on what I have written here. I know just what you mean about committees, although I don’t think there was any of that feel here, and no desire from anyone for delaying tactics. However, I base that on experience of the meeting, and obviously it’s difficult for you as you weren’t there and I didn’t spell out every detail. I thought we had a consensus and then became nervous when the guy talked about punching people on the Lord’s orders (and no, that wasn’t your vicar!). That then set me thinking more about the way the meeting had gone. Most of it, as I said, I was comfortable with; but at the end, I was less sure.


  5. PS: Peter, I should have added that I didn’t detect any desire to water down things by compromise. I hope that reassures you. The more I think about it, the more I realise I was happy with the way the great majority of people approached the meeting, but there were a couple of people who left me uneasy. Maybe in the next couple of days I’ll discern wisdom in how to assess this further, but I wanted to blog the meeting, because it had been the catalyst for all my thinking and writing on this subject.

    Thank you for the way you help to sharpen my thinking from a different perspective.


  6. Apologies for the duplicate comment. The first time I got no response from the website to I resubmitted. I find that on this blog, and some other Typepad blogs, at least 50% of the time there is a problem with loading pages when I comment or even try to read a page – at the very least an unacceptably long delay in loading. If you compare with WordPress, which is free, clearly Typepad sucks.


  7. Katherine, Peter,

    Thank you for your comments, which I found when logging on this morning.

    Some readers have commented recently about problems with the blog. I’ll probably open up a new post about that later, but right now it’s school run time!


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