Monday, February 16, 2009

Church Experiment #7: Passion and Fire Church

I was very nervous about attending a service at Passion and Fire Worship Center [their website no longer exists, so I’m assuming this church has closed its doors] because I have always struggled with Christian “ministry.” Praying in tongues, healing, falling to the ground, violent convulsions, bursting into tears or laughter—it has always seemed staged and goofy. Going in, I knew Passion and Fire valued this type of ministry, and I was curious to see it practiced up close and personal.

I had no idea just how “up close” I would get and just how “personal” it would become.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.

25 comments:

DanThoms said...

From what I know the blankets are, or at least used to be, a modesty thing. They would use them to cover up the legs of ladies who were wearing dresses.

random blogger said...

it is always interesting to read the line about the seating capacity. i think every experience so far (as best as i can remember) showed that there were plenty of seats to spare. now, just thinking to myself. is this because at one point these worship spaces were full and people don't go to church anymore? or is it that these spaces were planned with a certain number of seats expecting huge growth? the cynic that i am observes that many churches behave in much the same way that a retailer may behave by installing 15 check out lanes, anticipating the masses.

bshawise said...

i'll wire you five dollars if you post a video of you playing that flute.

Anonymous said...

Hello Steve, I have been a long time lurker and love your blog page and reading all the great things you have to say. After reading this entry, I figured I'd share my experience with you. I went to a church like that once, and I am never going there again. Not only did it make me feel uncomfortable, but I was "forced" to come up front and be talked to in tongues. I didn't know whether or not to "fall", so I did because everyone else did, and people were standing behind me, like they were waiting to catch me. Then the preacher (she was a lady btw) told me that God wanted me to take out my piercings. Mind you, I only had a lip ring in. She also told me that God thinks I am beautiful without piercings and with make up I will be even more beautiful. I pretty much LAUGHED in her face. Needless to say, I ran out of that building and never came back. It was the weirdest thing i have ever experienced. People were going into crazy convulsions and speaking "tongues" and there were kids around, if I was one of the kids I would be scared to death and think someone was dying. To this day, I still believe that the "church" was more like a cult. I don't remember the name of it. it was somewhere in Covington. I'll stick to my non denominational Christian church who accepts everyone, and that preaches the word of God in a language that everyone understands.

Micah said...

Yeah, I'll match Brad's offer. $5 from me makes $10. Who else is in?

Come on, folks! Let's put together enough of a pot to make it tempting!

John Arns said...

i'll give another $5 to make it $15.

Steve, I had an experience like that once -- being pushed down, that is, while someone prayed for me. I had my eyes closed, and when the person prayed, he pushed. I resisted. Then he pushed harder until I kinda gave up and thought 'what they hey' and fell backwards with everybody else. I clearly didn't feel God in THAT experience.

RA Cook said...

I can think of few things I'd rather equate with passion and fire than a dick flute.
I've seen some weird supernatural crap, enough that I believe in the kind of stuff I thought was for some other type of Christian. These experiences have been challenging, scary, and exciting.
Some of what I see in the faith healers seems like a counterfeit of that. The fact that I believe in this stuff makes the mc nuggets version that much more offensive.

Dan Kalbach said...

I'll throw in $10 if you play some overtly cheesy "worship" tune.

Ryan Detzel said...

Steve-

I read one of the entries to my men's small group last night. These are great.

You're an excellent writer, and the bigger importance to me is the way you're opening up the thought process that goes into how we do church. It's already got us saying..."oh man, what if he visits Vineyard Westside?"

That's a good thing. Keep it up and let me know if I can buy you some coffee some time. Don't think of it as a date...think of it as band practice.

Helen Ann said...

This kind of "forced" ministry, shoving people in the gut to try to make them fall, horoscope-like prophetic stuff really frosts my shorts. Because they make a mockery of legit ministry that really can look like that. And so to a new-comer it's all weird and freaky, so they're already turned off to tongue-speaking and hands-on healing and the Holy Spirit ministry in general. I can speak of this because I experienced it myself - having had a very scary Holy Spirit experience as a young girl that damaged my relationship with the Holy Spirit for a long time. THankfully God placed me among some people who minister in the gifts of the Spirit without expecting them to always look freaky and weird, who take the time to explain what is going on, who take the "woo woo" out if it. And because of that things rarely look all that weird .But even when they do, I feel safe and understand that it's the real thing and not manufactured or forced. I am not condemning these folks...They seem like nice people...It's just a bad tradition in the Charismatic movement.

Anonymous said...

Yes Steve , I too have been in the same similar experience . Funnily , on running out of one meeting , I happened to chance a conversation with a woman from a very small church around the corner from the meeting I went to. She said to me , " Yep , stay away from there ,what a true showman ! , and she quoted the scripture , "an adulterous and wicked generation seeketh after a sign ! " , after spending my previous years trying to find the answer in buddhism and energy medicine etc,angels etc , through it all Christ found me , I have needed to experience this "fire"to know him and that now if anything speaks about "fire" (spiritual /unseen)I am immediately quick to run a river of love over it ! Thats why we hold water ! and not as some claim to fill you with "pure gold" which for me is how idols are formed is it not !
With Love Andrea xxx
" And they shall do great wonders , even call fire down from heaven but I shall say to them , get away from me ....they never knew me"

Pam said...

Hello Steve, I don't know if you will go back and read posting so long after you have moved on to new experiences, however, I feel I need to post something here for anyone who may read this paticular experience. I must defend the experience of being slain in the spirit. I know without a personal experience, it is very difficult to beleive this is real but I must tell you, it is very real. It happened to me. I can only tell you that I had to be in the right place in my heart before the Lord touched me. I wanted so badly to feel what I saw other people experiencing. I went to service after service in the hope that I would have this experience. It wasn't until I realized that I was asking for something I was not worthy to recieve. I say that because I was living in sin with my fiance at the time. I had such a burdon layed on my heart that I knew I would not be able to really get close to God until I did something about that. After I got married and went back to church. I wanted to know from God if I was OK. I went through a prayer line and was praying from the depth of my soul asking God if I was ok now? When I got to the pastor all he did was lightly touch my forehead. (There was no pushing involved) I can only explain what happened to me like this. It was as if a wave of water forced me to the ground. A force that I new was not of this world as we know it. I knew at that moment I had just been touched by the hand of God. It was the most profound thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I only wish every believer could have their own experience to know for themselves that God does touch us sometimes. I will pray that you will someday have that happen to you. Then and only then will you know how real it is.
God Bless you in your journey to find your faith, I will be following your every move. You facinate me!
Signed Pam

Steve Fuller said...

Hi, Pam.

Not sure if you will read this, but I do want to point out that I believe it can be real. That is why places like Passion and Fire frustrate me - because it doesn't seem real, making the real stuff seem less believable, and making me keep my defenses up.

Thanks for your perspective!

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

I laughed so hard I cried. I've experienced people like this church before. It all seems staged and fake to me.

This is your best post so far!

distorted.girl said...

this post is hilarious. i literally laughed out loud while reading this.

Danielle said...

"But at Passion and Fire, I had to come to terms with the fact that I believe in Jesus; and I believe he can heal; and I believe people can have legitimate experiences that seem bizarre to the outside world."

I loved this sentence. It was beautifully honest. I wish everyone could have this sort of attitude about the things they do not yet understand.

luv4Jesuss888 said...

Part 1: After having read many of your posts on many churches around the Cincinnati area, I must say that one visit to any church is only a very small snapshot of that church. One visit to any of these churches cannot possibly give you an accurate picture of that church, it's heart or values. Yes, maybe as a "one time" visitor you form many observations and opinions, but depending on your own history with God and your understanding of the Holy Spirit and the hearts of those you are observing, you may or may not have an accurate view or paradigm. Most likely, you will not. And really, that is not fair to any of these churches. Because of these factors, and in reading many of your posts, I find that it is impossible to have really given any of these churches a fair shake. As for Passion and Fire, I am a regular attender there and I would agree with the assessment that Passion and Fire is a very friendly church, wonderful group of believers and sincere in their quest for more in their relationship with God. Many of the other posts by readers unfairly mock the ministry at Passion and Fire, and really have no clue as to what they are talking about, because they are commenting on your posts, which by the way do not accurately reflect the ministry of Passion and Fire, nor most of the churches you visited. There is no pretense at Passion and Fire and I can tell you that Pastor Dave absolutely does not push people or even expect any manifestation when receiving ministry there. If the Holy Spirit touches you, then great, but most of that is up to the person receiving ministry. If you attend only to "observe" and critique, then you probably will not receive anything, or at the least, not the best of what you could be receiving, but if you are genuine and sincere in your heart to hear from God, attend with a heart to worship God and receive from Him, then you most certainly will. I remember that time frame when you visited. You mentioned an 80 minute message on tithing and giving. Actually when you visited, the church was in a series on understanding giving, tithing, God's provision and what He says about our giving. The pastors were trying to bring understanding and clarification to this whole thing on giving that is a highly Biblical principle throughout the word of God...that is if you take the time to read your Bible. This would not have been considered a normal "tithing message" but you happened to "pop in" when they were in a series on the topic. The cloths that they use to cover people there who do go down under the power of the Holy Spirit is for modesty for those who have gone down. Is it real power? Most definitely. I have attended their church for a number of years and I can tell you, it's real.

luv4Jesuss888 said...

Part 2: A one time visit does not accurately assess their ministry. I felt violated in your blog, because they were unfairly depicted, as were many of your church blogs. I felt sorry for you and many of your readers when I observed how critical and how narrow their view was of charismatic or spirit filled churches. Many of your comments on a lot of the churches felt critical, condescending and shallow. It truly would not be fair for you to write a book that only gives every one of these churches a "one-shot" snapshot of each of these places. Are they all perfect? Absolutely not. Are their quirks in these churches? Probably. Are these people hungry for a real experience with God? Absolutely. I would be very careful about putting out a book that is truly not fair to any of the churches that you visited. As I visited each of your church experiences, I too could make many observations about you, but would that be fair to you? The soul of man can tend toward the critical instead of having a heart toward looking at the heart of individuals. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, and many of your words seemed critical and actually spoofy, something SNL would do. If I were to assess you as a believer, I would also observe that you seem to be jaded in general about the church, Christians, ministry styles and the variety of doctrines out there. You seem to naturally have a bent toward The Vineyard and a seeker sensitive approach. You seem to have a very shallow Biblical understanding of many truths in the Word, however you do seems to have a very good understanding of the grace of God and the grace of the Cross. It's really tough to "judge" or "critique" all of these churches without a solid Biblical understanding in your own life. You obviously have a Catholic background, (I didn't read your own church history) Maybe a whole lot more would have made sense to you if you did spend more time in your Bible. The church of Jesus can be a funny place, but all of these people are pursuing God in their own experience and understanding of the Bible and faith. It would be like a man going into a woman's intimate shop to purchase an item, when he has no real understanding of how to buy for a woman. Your experient was certainly interesting, but having been to many of these churches myself, I would have to say that you have a skewed paradigm and many of these churches were unfairly assessed. You obviously seem to be a hurting person, and maybe a bit bitter toward the church, I don't know. That is between you and the Lord. I was saddened by the comments of many of your readers. Once again, seeming shallow, unfounded on the Bible and I wanted so much for them to experience more of God and have the real deal. You know it is real and you can have the real deal. God Bless you and I hope you truly find the Lord in your ongoing journey and pursuit of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Precious church of our Lord. Is she perfect? Not yet. But even if you found the perfect church, it would become unperfect when you attended...or anyone else for that matter, because none is perfect, no not one, only Jesus and He loves His church with all her flaws. Maybe when we personally decide to love the church like Jesus loves the church, then we will have REAL eyes to see her. Too bad that is not the caee in this blog. He gave His life for her. I hope you find HIM more and more and are transformed by His awesome glory and power. God Bless you.

luv4Jesuss888 said...

One other point that I would like to make is that Spiritual things are discerned by spiritual people. The natural man does not understand these things and cannot therefore accurately discern with observation of details and practices. You have a lot of knowledge, but very little understanding. Perhaps the following passage from the Bible will help you have a proper view of the church and the things of the Spirit. You obviously view churches through the head and not the heart. The Spiritual man properly discerns all things.

1 Corinthians 2:13-15 (Amplified Bible)
13And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit].
14But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.

15But the spiritual man tries all things [he [a]examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him].

The same reason that CNN, liberals or any other "news" program calls on "Theologians" when they have questions about the church. Theologians have "knowledge" but most have no real relationship and understanding of the things of the Spirit of God.

The Sons of God are lead by the Spirit of God according to Romans 8. Your opinions will mean nothing in eternity. All that will last and stand are those things done for Christ that build up His Body, His Church. If you are a Christian, it's not our job to tear down the church but to build her up. It's Jesus' bride that you are tearing down, maybe not perfect, but it's His church and His business how He leads His people.

Steve Fuller said...

luv4jesus888,

I have clearly struck a nerve. I apologize for that. As you know, this was only church 7 out of 52. This was a journey that I believe God used to help me grow. Life is a process, and we are all in process.

Thanks for the feedback.

luv4Jesuss888 said...

It may only have been church #7 our of 52, but what strikes a nerve with me is that everyone is so flippant about the things of God and most definitely about things they do not understand. I accept your apology, but as I stated before, a "one time" visit does not make anyone an expert on any church. Its about getting to know the hearts of people, why they believe what they believe, their experience with God which is valid. Making light of what you do not understand and then thinking you are going to "publish" something like this in a book will hurt all of these churches. Your own experience or lack of experience of God does not make you alone an expert on any one of these churches. It's not a "head issue" but a heart issue. I only wish you really knew my pastor and his wife. They are awesome people of God who have endured much and have patiently endured opposition and criticism, but I do not know any two people who are more hungry and passionate for God and who want their church members to eperience more of the heart of the Lord. They are not into hype or "slick" marketing or novelty, but simply the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, the Message of the Cross and an experiential, yet biblical understanding of God. I pray that you will one day receive the same kind of ministry that goes deep and radically transforms your life. God Bless you

Steve Fuller said...

Thanks for the prayers.

Chris Bassett said...

Man, I know it. I used to be skeptical like that - and with churches I don't know, I still am. But now I am a pastor who believes much of this stuff is real, and have seen it. Not into the 80 minute tithing speeches, or the showy push to the stomach, but the prophecy, tongues, healing, etc... I want God's presence in my church, for my people, and am willing to look like a fool for it...as long as it's not me being contrived. It's figuring out what's me and what's God that's the hard part. He will guide it. Good on you for giving it a go.

andrealindy65 said...

That was hysterically funny! I love your observations!

Anonymous said...

Was the prophecy about staying up till 2 am watching reruns really what he said or were you joking?

I am a former Pentecostal (used to be involved in the Association of Former Pentecostals) and I can tell you about much worse prophecies than "you're staying up too late and watching too much TV." Pentecostals can get death prophecies if they are perceived to be opposing a pastor's leadership or have somehow fallen out of favor.