I just finished Francis Chan's Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. To be honest I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed. I think the premise was good, but I also think people who are neglecting the Holy Spirit needed more of a kick in the back-side than he provided...
That said the interesting part of the book was in the introduction:
“If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit. The degree to which this has happened (and I would argue that it is a prolific disease in the body of Christ) is directly connected to the dissatisfaction most of us feel with and in the church. We understand something very important is missing. The feeling is so strong that some have run away from the church and God’s Word completely.
I believe that this missing something is actually a missing Someone – namely, the Holy Spirit. Without Him, people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-sized results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”I've read many books lately which argue, "There is something wrong with the church today and we all know it." Of course then each book attempts to address the issue from a different angle. Some think our preaching is lacking, either because it's not expository preaching, or because it's over 20 minutes long. Some think we shouldn't be "preaching" from the front at all, but rather our problem is that we aren't doing church like the first century Christians.
I've entertained several of these ideas and think many of them pose helpful suggestions. But at the end of the day I'm not completely convinced. However Chan's argument that what the church today is missing is God Himself (or more specifically the Holy Spirit) well... that's a pretty convincing argument. We do attempt to do church on our own strength. We preach methodology and more methodology when it might be that all we really need is the Lord.
The evidence for this being the case, in my opinion, is in the fact that the Lord is using churches with all kinds of methodologies. The guy from the inner city preaches to the church in the suburbs about how the Lord would use them if they would just move to the inner city. Or the minister from nowhere Africa says, "If you guys would just do church like the folks in the desert in Africa, then you would understand."
But the truth is the Lord is using all sorts of churches. Granted many are failing as well (perhaps those void of the Holy Spirit). But all over, in just about every broken model of church, God is at work.
God is at work and I think this is because the Holy Spirit is big enough to work through our broken models. But are we big enough to allow Him in?
For the record I'm not convinced you have to be a charismatic church to let the Spirit work. I think the Spirit is even big enough to work with people who are quite uncomfortable with Him. Just so long as they're aware of the fact that they're uncomfortable, and open with God about their understanding — seeking Him anyhow.