This resource includes videos of all 10 plenary sessions from our 3rd North American gathering, “Awakenings: The Mission of the Spirit as the Life of the Church.”
We highly commend these to you, not only for personal benefit, but as resources for teaching and training in the area of a practical theology of the Holy Spirit for congregations and Christian leaders.
Plenary 1 | The Holy Spirit: Our Forgotten God
OVERLOOKING GOD: MEETING THE HOLY SPIRIT AGAIN, FOR THE FIRST TIME – Todd Hunter
Jesus, who we are all clear about; the person we say we love, place our confidence in, and follow, said some things many people are unclear about: The Father will send you the Spirit so that you will not feel, or in fact, be orphaned (John 14); It is for your good that I am going away…if I go, I will send [the Spirit] to you… he will teach you and show you what is still to come [in the kingdom of God movement I have been teaching and modeling] (John 16); I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. (Luke 24.49)
Those scriptural snippets remind us that taking Jesus serious requires taking the person and work of the Spirit serious too. I think this is true: the purposes of God in full-orbed discipleship require a power that matches his intentions. If this is true, what does it mean? What are the implications for church life? What are the practices associated with faithful and fruitful interaction with the person and work of the Spirit? This is the wisdom we will together seek in this session.
DISMEMBERED TRINITY: TRUNCATED GOSPEL LIVING – Ruth Padilla DeBorst
God is the supreme Community-of-Love. When the people who claim to be drawn together by that Community and to represent the purposes of that Community disregard the communal nature of God and the action of the Spirit, we fail to live out the Good News of God’s good creation. Drawing on theological insights primarily from Latin America, this session invites participants into a renewed vision and presence in a world that belongs to that Community-of-Love.
Plenary 2 | Encountering the Spirit in Jesus’ Day and Ours
THE POWERFUL BREATH OF NEW CREATION – N.T. Wright
When the early Christians speak of the Spirit’s work they anchor this in the scriptural narrative of creation and temple. The original creation is the heaven-plus-earth ‘temple’ where God desires to make his home, with humans as his ‘image’ within this ‘temple’, animated by his ‘breath’. A er the Fall, the promise of renewed creation through Abraham’s family eventually focuses on the wilderness tabernacle where the powerful living presence of God comes to dwell in the midst of his people. The early Christians look back to this story to understand what had happened in Jesus himself, and then to understand the ongoing work of the indwelling and animating Spirit leading God’s people towards the ultimate ‘inheritance’ of new creation itself. The Spirit therefore energizes God’s people to be agents of new creation in the present, as signposts to the promised future.
Plenary 3 | The Power of the Spirit: How God’s Kingdom Comes
ANOINTED REVOLT: THE SPIRIT, THE BELIEVER, AND THE COSMIC CONFLICT – Greg Boyd
The Holy Spirit is most often associated with love, peace, comfort and healing. These associations are of course not wrong, but we often overlook the truth that the Spirit is also associated with war — not against “flesh and blood,” but against “the principalities and powers” (Ephesians 6:12). In this session we’ll explore the Spirit-filled life of Jesus to discern how the Spirit empowered him to revolt against ungodly and unjust systematic aspects of his culture as well as against the cosmic powers that fueled them. As people who are called to imitate Jesus, we have to ask: “What are the ungodly and unjust systemic aspects of our culture that the Spirit wants to empower us to revolt against, and what does this revolt look like on an individual and communal level?”
TRANSFORMING DISCIPLES INTO WORLD CHANGERS – Tammy Dunahoo
How did something as transformative as the person and work of the Spirit become a doctrine that o en divides the church? This session will endeavor to pull back the misconceptions and recall the power of transformation that causes a small group of disciples to “turn the world upside down.”
STAY WOKE: THE HOLY SPIRIT, JUSTICE, AND COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION – Charles Montgomery
Pneumatology, the study of the Holy Spirit, is filled with discourse that overwhelmingly focuses on the vertical nature of one’s relationship with God. This has resulted in some who separate spiritual matters from matters that are social, political, and justice-oriented. In this Plenary, we will examine John 7:7-15, and share how the “Paraclete” not only compels us to engage in matters of social justice but also empowers Christ’s Church to share the Kingdom with the world.
Plenary 4 | Awakened by the Spirit: The Life of the Church as a Gift to the World
DEVELOPING A SPIRIT-LED KINGDOM STRATEGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY – Jorge Acevedo
We are living in a time that the church has not faced in a very long time. The task before each of us is to navigate the challenges and opportunities of bearing witness to the gospel in a previously evangelized society. In the midst of such an unprecedented time, we need the leadership of the Spirit more than ever. Yet, most church leaders were not formed to follow the action of the Spirit in their congregational leadership. In this session we will consider a Spirit-led approach to the local mission of the church.
CHURCH ON FIRE: ENGAGED IN SPIRIT- BAPTIZED IMAGINATION AND PARTICIPATION – Cherith Nordling
How then, do we live the life of the Spirit as participants in the ongoing life and ministry of the exalted Son—Jesus Christ, our prophetic priest-king—in the love and to the praise of our Father in heaven? What did the rest Spirit- baptized churches understand about this communal life together that we tend to forget, or have not yet known? Together we will listen for how the Holy Spirit might baptize our imaginations to ‘see, hear, and perceive’ the things God has prepared for his beloved ones and how we we might enter more fully into those realities.
Plenary 5 | The Mission of the Spirit: The Restoration of all Things in Christ
THE HEALING STREAM OF NEW COVENANT – N.T. Wright
Jesus spoke of the promised Spirit (John 7.37-39) in terms of ‘rivers of living water’. This evokes scriptural promises (Ezekiel, Zechariah) of covenant renewal a er failure and exile, with the new Temple established as the source of life-giving water for the whole world. This translates into the gift of the Spirit for mission in John 20.19-23: Jesus’ death cleanses his followers so that, following his resurrection they can be new-Temple people, animated by his own Spirit, for the sake of the world. This is worked out in Acts as heaven and earth are joined in Jesus himself (Acts 1) and the Spirit (Acts 2) so that the ‘new-Temple people’, as cleansed healers (with ethics seen as part of the missional vocation), confront the temples of the world, from Jerusalem to Athens and beyond, with the new healing, living reality of the One God.
LEAVING THE UPPER ROOM : THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OUTSIDE CHURCH WALLS – Howard John Wesley
Too often, within contemporary Christianity, living out the working and mission of the Holy Spirit is docetically hindered by a limiting of the empowering to be witnesses as focused solely on evangelism. In this plenary we will look at the further on-going mission of the Spirit beyond the evangelistic leanings and inner workings within the body of Christ to those outside church doors through an in-depth examination and proclamation of Acts 3:1-10.