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Charismatics and Preaching Tapes: Two Questions From a Reader


Dr. Gero asked:

“Their rape-and-pillage policy left carnage and destruction in its wake, not unlike the Charismatic movement during the same time period.”

What did the Charismatic movement do? Also, unrelated, do you have any recordings of your old sermons from your IFB days, Calvinist days, and liberal days? It would be interesting to hear the progression and changes.

I began my ministerial career in the late 1970s. The Charismatic movement was in its infancy at this point, with little difference between them and their Pentecostal brethren. Charismatic churches advertised themselves as “alive” and “filled with the Spirit.” Why go to a dead Baptist church when you can come to a church where God is “moving,” souls are being saved, and people are being healed and delivered? the advertising said. And for many staid Protestant churches, the advertising had a deep, lasting, deleterious effect. Seemingly overnight, stable churches were destabilized as scores of people left for Charismatic congregations — looking for life in all the wrong places.

In the 1980s in rural northwest Ohio, large Charismatic churches were common. Most of their new members came from established Protestant churches. People are free to go to church where they want, but this church growth was the result of advertising and manipulation, and not some sort of move of God. Today, these once-large Charismatic churches are shells of what they once were, often looking like the dead Baptist churches they condemned decades ago.

Where the Charismatic movement made a lasting mark on Christianity is music. Charismatics were one of the first sects to use contemporary Christian music and praise and worship teams and bands. Today, many churches have praise and worship teams — even mainline churches, regardless of how atrocious the music is. Hymns have been marginalized, giving way to syrupy, Jesus-is-my-boy-friend choruses and songs.

I have tried to find recordings from my preaching days, without success. I have contacted former congregants, asking them if they had any cassette tapes of my sermons. There should be thousands of cassettes floating around, but I suspect most of them have been discarded or recorded over with music from AC/DC or Twisted Sister. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    How do Charismatic and IFBers and other church movements explain why so many left? Oh wait, let me guess…they blame it on people being too worldly. These types of sects never reflect on their failings, unless it is to flail the membership.

  2. Avatar

    I didn’t really know much about charismatic. I knew they existed and supposedly did weird things like babbling nonsense or rolling on the floor or whatever. I was gone from evangelicalism before I had heard of Hillsong or any of those other music-producing charismatic groups.

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