The Teague Church of Christ was kind enough to invite me down to do a seminar on A Spirit for the Rest of Us. Benjamin Neely, who is the minister with the Teague Church, extended the invitation and made all the arrangements.

Julie (who is rarely able to come with me on these seminar weekends) and I flew from Nashville to DFW, rented a car, and drove into the Teague metroplex about 4:00pm. After a nap and light supper, we got to the building at 6:30, greeted Benjamin, and did all the requisite “tech checks” (sound, PowerPoint, remote control).

The first session of the Spirit seminar went from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.  My topic was “Why Bother with the Spirit?”—a good question, actually, when you consider all the trouble and risk the Spirit-can-of-worms might open. Why talk about the Spirit if doing so makes us vulnerable to supernatural excess or obsession? Why talk about Spirit when even raising the subject is likely to make some people nervous and mad? People who are satisfied with their lives as a disciple, who have all the spiritual power they want, whose life is full of holy fruit, who walk in confidence and a constant consciousness of God’s presence, won’t want to risk playing with Spirit-dynamite. If the Teague church is quite satisfied with itself, it might be a long weekend!

Fortunately, the church was ready to talk about the Spirit. They identified with the Apostles’ feeling on the final night they spent with Jesus: lonely, overwhelmed, afraid, limited, small. They appreciated the compassion and tenderness Jesus showed in acknowledging the Apostles’ feelings and addressing them frontally. And they listened with rapt attention to the solution Jesus offered his followers: the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father, to be a companion for disciples “forever.” We looked briefly at the five Paraclete Passages found in that section of John’s gospel known as The Final Discourse. Then we broke up into small groups, talked about their thoughts, and went home.

It was an interesting evening. People were engaged and curious. They were also cautious. I could tell they weren’t very interested in jumping off a charismatic cliff. (Good, because I wasn’t very interested in leading them to that precipice.) But I could also tell they wrestled with many of the questions I struggled with: where was the power for transformation? Why was church so often difficult and messy? When will followers of Christ start living up to their potential and promise? These questions made them open to the possibility of a Spirit who could do in us and in our churches something we ourselves could never do. It was these sorts of questions, in fact, that lead me to embark on a study of the Spirit and to write my book on the subject.