A few days ago I was scrolling through a social media website and came across a post that displayed a flier for a Holy Ghost Rally. My first thought was that you dont hear that word used much anymore. Rallies, Crusades and Camp Meetings still take place, but you dont see or hear about them as much in this day as in the past. The second thing that I noticed was the time listed was from 2 p.m. til midnight and there were 11 speakers listed for the event.
We live in time now where we expect everything to fit neatly into a time frame. We have machines and devices to do almost everything for us, but what have we traded out for all of this convenience? We dont remember phone numbers anymore, because they are stored in our mobile devices. We have machines to cook and clean for us, and some even have a button that will start the car. The car has sensors that tell you when you need an oil change, so you dont have to raise the hood and check the oil, and on and on. We live in a day when many people pick up food from a drive by instead of cooking at home. How has this life of amenities and conveniences changed our way of thinking about church service and the Holy Ghost?
Shut ins and Tarry Services are historically significant to Pentecostals. The understanding is that God is sovereign, and the waiting is with expectation, so much so, that waiting was part of the process to learn discipline and patience in one's prayer life. By removing one’s own feeling of control over the situation, one learned to surrender the will of self, replacing it with an open heart for what God would do in God’s Power and Authority.
This kind of expectation comes in the context of knowing that one must be willing to wait, prayerfully wait. Testimonies of past services would give those present the expectation and desire to remain present for hours because there was the hope of a blessing, deliverance, sinners coming to Christ, and much more. The unity of expecting God with other saints would charge the service with heart felt and jubilant singing, preaching, and praying. Waiting for God was not a frustrating time, but a time of joy, hope and expectation.
What are we teaching the next generation of Christians about waiting on God? How do we learn about waiting on God? When children learn to pray, they follow the examples set by the adults in their lives. This can be church leaders, but most often it is the adults that are closest to the child, the parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles, etc., so the model of prayer that is set in a child's life become the way the child will understand prayer. What a great opportunity to teach a child about praying and waiting on God, and especially about patience.
Now that we have Bible apps, and streaming services, and Youtube videos, what about the local church? What about the local community? Does the local church still need Tarry Service?
Marva C. Williams, M. Div