‘Living in the Spirit’ resources revitalize US church

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'Living in the Spirit' book cover

'Living in the Spirit' book coverPIONEER Valley Assembly of God in Huntington, Massachusetts, has been an intergenerational church for many years. Earlier this year, they even held a conference at their church, featuring an author that had written a book about the intergenerational church and its impact.

While Toby Quirk, pastor, was looking for curriculum to use for the first church-wide series of 2011, he decided to go with the book ‘Living in the Spirit’, by General Superintendent George O. Wood, and corresponding resources.

The church distributed the book to its congregation, and is now making it a permanent part of its standard library to distribute to new members.

The series started on January 2, 2011, the first Sunday of the new year, and continued for nine weeks, tackling a different question/topic each Sunday.

Questions like ‘Who is the Holy Spirit to me?’ and ‘What is the purpose of speaking in tongues?’ shaped the sermons and discussions each week in the main service, as well as the youth service and children’s church.

Ages two to 90 were engaged in the discussion topic every Sunday and during the week, according to Quirk.

“It really fed into our direction, to have the whole church learning the same lessons every day and every week — that was extremely instrumental,” he says.

Several teachers gave reports of how the series had impacted their children’s classrooms.

Kimberly Van Buren, who teaches ages five to nine, was pleased with how her students had interacted with the lessons.

“I have to say that I love the material for my age group of kids,” says Van Buren. “It was exciting that the entire class was interested, including the teachers. The kids were able to grasp the concept of the Holy Spirit giving power that they can use for everyday situations.”

Quirk explains that there were two key elements of the series that helped trigger a positive response with his congregation.

“One key element was George Wood’s transparency on the video,” Quirk says. “He was very personal about his own experiences that he even admitted some areas of need in his own life. He came across as very real and I think that impressed people when it came to the stories he told.”

Another key element was the progression in the book — it went step by step in a very logical and understandable progression, Quirk says.

Quirk says it was the altar times that impacted the congregation the most.

“Because of the content of the message each Sunday, our altar times were extremely powerful and profound,” he says. “Overall, the series was a rekindling of what we already had, it just poured more gas on the fire.”

According to Quirk, the content of the message each Sunday also made an impact on church members by revitalizing the church’s focus on being Pentecostal.

“We’ve always been a Pentecostal church, but this nine-week period stirred up the gifts and the effect was people being more bold for the Lord in whatever context they were in, whether it be work or school or home,” says Quirk. “It added new life to Sunday morning services in terms of worship and the Word. It caused people still, to talk more about what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives — it is a continual topic of conversation and emphasis.” AGNS

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