Someone posed the question, "Who should set the direction for the United Pentecostal Church?" This same person then went on to lambast "all these upcoming young guys" who (in his opinion, at least) had no "corn in the crib" yet had all these visions of wanting to change the direction of this fellowship that I am blessed to be a part of. (Incidentally, the guy posing the question/accusation is younger than I am; not even in his 40's yet, so this was not some gray-headed old geezer nervous about losing a position somewhere.)
Although I did not address his concerns directly (he was more interested in standards of dress, lifestyle, etc) I did feel a response. This particular post probably elicited more response than most of my others, probably because it was purely spontaneous and came from my heart.
It may not be the most popular answer, so consider yourself warned.
I'm not young (although 44 isn't old), but I will look anybody in the eye and say we desperately need to change the direction of the UPCI.
We have become a "Barbie-doll" organization instead of the genuine apostolic movement that we once were. We have done the very thing to this movement that we preach against to our ladies: we've applied makeup and touchup and polish and glitter and glamour to replace what used to be. We have church-growth conferences instead of growing churches; we have prayer conferences where we talk about prayer instead of praying. We have conferences now where thumbs are poked in the air as another trophy of our personal success instead of seeing all-night prayer meetings where saint and sinner alike moved God with tears.
The UPCI is still, in my opinion, the finest organization around, and I'm glad to be a part of it. But we have become so consumed with what our people LOOK like, or DON'T look like, that we've ignored what they ARE or AREN'T.
I had a cup of coffee the other day, and that's all I can tell you about it. I love coffee, and I would rather taste bitter coffee and at least remember it, than to go through an entire thermos and not even know I drank coffee. Nothing to remember, nothing to remark about...After I had finished my second or third cup of coffee, I couldn't tell you whether I liked it or disliked it.
How does the world today view the people that attend our churches? As a bunch of religious, rule-following, wear-your-hair-up, long-skirt wearing ladies and clean-shaven men? Or do they sense something that goes deeper than outward appearance? When an apostolic walks away from a conversation, God forbid they should be considered an "unremarkable" person. We need something born within us---starting with us as preachers of this life-changing Gospel---that cannot be ignored when we walk into a room, or forgotten when we walk out.
Pardon me for being blunt, but we need preaching that can't be fellowshipped away at Chili's an hour after dismissal.
We don't need a "return to the pathways of holiness"; most (believe it or not) never left those pathways. The voices of a few malcontents might make it seem that way, but I believe the huge majority of our ministers still believe in looking, dressing, and living godly, abstaining all appearance of evil.
But I am concerned that we have forsaken the old pathways of godly prayer and shaking Heaven, in an attempt to replace it with what looks good, sounds good, seems good. We have programs, outreaches, ministries galore...so why are we still struggling to reach the world? Why are we still in "competition" with the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Baptists, to fill our churches? Why are we still looking for programs, choirs, singers, special services, Saturday night get-togethers, in an effort to reach our communities?
I have been shaken and convicted more in the past couple months that what is sorely lacking is not "holiness", but apostolic power. And dress length, hair length, all of our "do's and don'ts" will never bring apostolic power like good ol' fashioned on-our-face prayer used to bring.
Sorry for the rant. But you can't convince me we need to hold onto what we've got. We need to turn loose of what we've become enamored with, and we need to get ahold of what our forefathers had.
God is looking for a Bride, not a Barbie doll.