(I don’t know its name)


My First Charismatic Church Experience

In the mid-1970s, I lived in Springfield, Ohio and was attending the church I grew up in, Maiden Lane Church of God. (For the full story on that church, begin at Maiden Lane Church, Part 1.) During my teen years, this was a dying church and its lifelessness was very depressing to me. In December 1975, when I was 15 years old, we went to visit my relatives in San Jose, California, and while there visited their church. This church made a profound impression on me, a visit that was to have lasting effects on my spiritual journey.

The contrasts between the church I was attending at home and this one were striking. At my home church, the music mainly consisted of archaic hymns sung mechanically. At this San Jose church (I have no idea what it was called), I was electrified by how these people really got into their songs. Well, first of all, the songs weren't those ancient hymns, they were contemporary Scripture choruses. I remember that this was the first place I heard the song "Create In Me A Clean Heart" that is still frequently sung today. These people raised their hands as they sang; the expressions on their faces showed that they were really thinking about what they were singing and were communicating with God! I had never seen anything like it. I loved it.

Another thing that impressed me was to hear them speaking and singing in tongues. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. As I listened to this and worshiped with them (in English), I felt like I was among angels in heaven singing to Jesus right there.

The third thing that impressed me was how at one point, they had everyone in the congregation make small circles with people around them and pray together. While we did that in our church in youth retreats or other such occasions, this was not usually done in my home church. Most services, "prayer" consisted of set-aside formal times when someone from a microphone would voice a prayer and everyone else just listened. Here, everybody was in circles and each person prayed, and while they prayed, the others gave active verbal acknowledgment of participation. The prayer was not formal and dull, but alive and full of emotion!

The fourth thing that impressed me was the baptismal service I attended. At my home church, when people got baptized, they would get into the water, they may or may not give a testimony, depending on how shy they were, and after they got dunked, they'd leave the water. But at this San Jose church, it wasn't dunk- 'em-and-bring-on-the-next-one. After the dunking, the newly baptized person would stay there, raise their hands and face upward, and the congregation would sing songs of joy and celebration for this new believer. It was awesome. It touched me deeply.

To me, this church represented to me what I always thought church should be but that my home church was not--a place where it seemed it really was great to be a Christian and to worship Jesus, as opposed to a place where you went through the motions because this is the church stuff that Christians are supposed to do. It also brought a new experience to me, that of hearing tongues in worship. This experience opened me up to a new world that would have a lasting effect on my hunt for churches throughout my life. By experiencing this church, I discovered that you can find a church where emotion is alive.

(I wrote this in the late 1990s for a website I planned to build, but never got the website built.  It is now finally appearing for the first time on the web via this website 10 years later.  This page was last updated April 4, 2010.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: As with all churches in this section, please remember the following points:

1.All descriptions of the churches reflect my own observations and interpretations at the time I attended; these descriptions are not intended to be objective. The main purpose of these writings is to reflect on the effect churches had on my spiritual journey, thus the focus is my experiences at the churches and not an objective reporting of the churches themselves.

2.Keep in mind that churches, like any organizations, change over time. The descriptions I list describe the churches at the time I attended, but the church could have changed immensely since that time, for better or for worse. These writings are not for the purpose of helping one decide whether the church is one they should or should not choose; the church may be completely different by now.

3.Any criticisms put forth in any of my writings on the churches are not meant to be objective criticisms to be answered by the church, but rather, they are merely my opinions of the church at the time I attended there, and how those experiences and my opinions of them shaped my spiritual journey.

Churches I’ve Visited is a sub-website of J Lee Harshbarger’s personal website.  To visit other sub-websites, click the links below.

All about music!  My Annual Music Awards, my music Hall Of Fame, and other writings about music and musicians I like are found here.../Music_Central/Welcome.html
An index to my writings about movies, books, and the media in general, such as news coverage and media bias../J_Lee_The_Media_Critic/J_Lee_The_Media_Critic_Index.html

My political and religious beliefs, and my commentary
 on society and politics.../Society_Central/Society_Central_Index.html

Photo albums from some of my travels outside of Michigan.  Eventually I hope to include travelogues too.

                     Various photos
                           I’ve taken
                     not connected
                            to any of
                            my web-
                            site pages.

What does it mean to follow God?  What should the church be like?../Pondering_God_And_Church/Statement_Of_My_Religious_Beliefs.html

A list of all the churches I’ve attended, plus full stories about some of them. ../Churches_Ive_Regularly_Attended/Churches,_Part_1.html


Stories about churches I’ve visitedChurches,_Part_2.html
The “Home” section: my front page, the descriptions for each of my sub-websites, and the descriptions of all the places where I hang out on the web.../Bananaleaf_Central/Front_Page.html

Churches I have visited that I have described so far:

  1. Bullet My First Charismatic Church

  2. Bullet The Most Bizarre Church Ever

  3. Bullet The Michigan Megachurch