Today we worshiped with a church here in Portland named “The Well“. It is an urban congregation that meets in the old Mt. Olivet building which was prominent during the civil rights movement. For an assembly in Portland it is racially diverse with soulful music. Everyone was very friendly and the pastor who gave the homily was a good teacher. At the end of the service everyone took communion, which is something I have come to see as an essential aspect of corporate worship. All in all it was a wonderful experience and I was impressed with what seemed to be a very healthy, holistic, and loving group of Christians.

Then something very interesting took place at the end. For some this may unnerving but I found it to be amazing. An elder came to the platform an reminded everyone of a time when the church had studied 1 Corinthians and how they went through the section where the Apostle Paul addresses how the gift of tongues should function in public worship. He went on to say that a woman who had joined him on the platform felt that she had the gift and that she had a message for the church. He noted that a few people had expressed the belief that they may have the gift of interpretation so they were prepared to see if the Spirit would lead them.

At this juncture the woman asked everyone to close her eyes and she began to speak in tongues. I should note that this is not your typical charismatic church. It seemed to be a new thing for them. Nevertheless everyone seemed very receptive and as one who is familiar with the gift I must say it sounded beautiful and sincere. When she was finished a lady came forth to give an interpretation that seemed fitting. The Spirit was surely involved.

What I found most impressive is how orderly and respectful it was. Whenever I have seen these gifts in public it seems a tad disorderly to the point I think Paul would be as frustrated as he was with the ecstatic Corinthians. It may have been the first time I have seen it done in a way that Paul would gave applauded.

When I was at Imago Dei an elder named Gary Friesen taught on the passage in 1 Corinthians that was exegetically sound but I never was under the impression that the church would actually be welcoming to a public display of these gifts. I respect the leadership of The Well because (1) they were open to the Spirit using the giftedness of the members, (2) unlike my previous experiences it was actually “decently and in order”, and (3) unlike others who are “open” to these expressions this church actually cultivated their use.

What has your experience been with the gift? Have you ever seen it used? Have you ever seen it used in a way that could still be considered “decently and in order”?