I’ll start with the word “Pentecostal.” Pentecostal refers to those whose theology informs them that there is a second baptism in the Holy Spirit evidenced by the gift of speaking in tongues. Some go so far as to say that you are not saved unless you show the signs of the Spirit. Most Pentecostals would consider themselves to be “charismatic” but not all charismatic people consider themselves to be Pentecostal. The word “charismatic” has become synonymous with churches and people who practice what we would call ‘supernatural’ gifts of the spirit (prophesy, healing, speaking in tongues, etc). Or worse, some people just think that those who raise their hands in worship or sing passionately are “charismatic”, which is a horrible misunderstanding of the term. Passion for God doesn’t make one charismatic, it simply makes one passionate (as we all should be). All of God’s people are a charismatic people. The word simply refers to the “spiritual gifts” in general, and the Holy Spirit has gifted all of us with different gifts to benefit the body of believers. The question is, do we make ourselves available to the Spirit so that those gifts can be used for his purposes.
This is important! All members of the body of Christ are charismatic people, and any effort to distance ourselves from the supernatural gifts and the word ‘charismatic’ is actually distancing ourselves from what we are supposed to be. This distancing is somewhat understandable because many within what we call the “charismatic movement” have so over-emphasized the supernatural gifts and have so embraced emotionalism, that other key elements of the faith have been greatly neglected. In many cases there are abuses that tend to arise when church becomes more about the gifts than about the gift-giver.
Unfortunately, abuses and neglecting important areas of our faith is a problem in many churches, not just charismatic churches. Liberal mainline churches tend to value social concern at the expense of scripture and truth, evangelical churches tend to value personal salvation at the expense of justice issues, and charismatic churches tend to value spiritual power at the expense of right doctrine or social concern. We must seek a balance in our churches. A lack of understanding concerning the practices and the mystery of supernatural gifts is no good reason to distance ourselves from the amazing gifts that God longs to pour out on all his people. As Paul says, we should eagerly seek them (1 Cor 14:1). So start praying that the Spirit of God will gift you with, not what you think you need, but what the church needs. He wants to give to the church through you.