Interview with Charisma editor, J. Lee Grady: Special to the Pneuma Review
Pneuma Review: Many in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement have said that the church is experiencing renewal. Do you agree, and if so, how has it touched you?
Lee Grady: There is no question that the charismatic church has experienced a level of renewal since the early 1990s. I think history will show that this movement began in or around 1993, culminating in two significant explosions in Toronto in 1994 and in Pensacola, Florida, in 1995.
Were these movements revivals? So many people want to quibble over the terms, and some argue that Toronto and Pensacola did not bring widespread evangelism. But it is still too early to determine that. I meet people all the time who experienced some kind of spiritual refueling in one of those movements, and today they are doing significant things in ministry. Many people who had become dry and “barren” spiritually found a fresh touch of God’s presence in either Toronto, Pensacola or in one of the many spin-off movements that were triggered by those two moves of God.
As far as my own personal experience, I was touched by the Lord in 1996 when I went to Pensacola. For me it was simply a fresh impartation of grace and a renewal of faith that God will indeed visit the United States in revival. I had a deeply moving encounter with God while in Pensacola in which the Lord dealt with my own cynicism. I came back from my three days there a changed man.
PR: In your 1994 book What Happened to the Fire? (Chosen), you listed several key issues that must be addressed before revival could sweep the church. Included in that list were heavy-handed leadership and spiritual abuse. How do you feel the church has dealt with these issues?
Grady: The charismatic church is still dealing with authoritarianism. I see it everywhere in independent churches where leaders either do not have the proper accountability structures, or they are too young and spiritually immature to know that they need such accountability.
Three years ago we ran an article in Charisma about the signs of an unhealthy church, and we focused on manipulative, authoritarian leadership as a major sign of problems. The response we received from that article was incredible. So many people wrote us to tell about their horror stories. This made me realize even more how much of a problem this is in our movement.