Actually it’s not quite Lakeland Florida but it is Southampton, England. Southampton has quickly become one of the UK centers for the Lakeland “outpouring”. I went along to a service run by a pentecostal church. The service was held in a hotel in the center of town and had about 180 in attendance (this is a very good number of the UK).
My observations were these:
1. There was a lot of worship. I mean, lots. After 2 hours of singing they had got warmed up. There were lots of repeated phrases over and over which I personally dislike.
2. There was no gospel proclamation
3. The bible explanations (note: there wasn’t any bible reading as such, just an open mic time) that were given were VERY dubious i.e. “Jesus turned water to wine, new wine. We are to take the new wine. Jesus said He is the vine, what does a vine produce? Fruit. Drink the wine and produce fruit”. huh? Also, according to one of the speakers, blind Bartimaeus was given what every he wanted so we should call out to God for whatever we want. And they did, for about 15 mins, shouting to God for whatever they wanted.
4. On a number of occasions the atmosphere was hyped.
5. On a number of occasions people were speaking out loud in “tongues” without an interpretation being given.
My biggest problem was that I think people were genuinely seeking God to do something in their lives. I think that was obvious to me: that people had a hunger for God. But what was also painfully obvious was that they were looking in the wrong place. For example:
– they spoke of God’s presence being the place were sins are washed but the Bible speaks of the Bible being the conduit by which God washes us (Ephesians 5)
– they spoke of being free because of the power of God but the bible speaks of knowing the truth that will set them free. (John 8:32)
– the power of God is found in miracles but Paul said in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” – the power of God is found in the gospel.