I have a theory!
The Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the church seems particularly prone to the craze of travelling to experience the next experience or the new unique blessing.
How is it that among those who are gullible and easily impressed, there are the intelligent, trustworthy and thoughtful who also report an authentic encounter with God in some unlikely places? This can seem especially puzzling when some of the reports indicate extremely bizarre behaviour and flawed theology?
The current destination for the seekers is Lakeland in Florida, where Todd Bentley does his thing. So why is it that the intelligent, trustworthy and thoughtful can report an authentic encounter with God in Lakeland? My answer is, “Pilgrimage!”
Pilgrimage is an ancient human experience. Travelling for a spiritual purpose is seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In church history down the centuries pilgrimage has been a popular means of expressing faith and spiritual longing.
But what is pilgrimage? I think, above all, it is the journey of a pilgrim. Pilgrimage is the expression of an individual’s faith and their longing to connect with their God. What I mean is, it is about the individual and their journey rather than their destination.
Pilgrimage involves planning, anticipation, hopeful desire and longing. The pilgrims will need patience during and before the journey. They will pack their bags and make their plans, rearranging their diaries with its responsibilities and appointments. This period of preparation is an opportunity for further contemplation and prayerful supplication. Imagine thousands of individuals/pilgrims converging somewhere, having all gone through the many processes of preparation and travel, and arriving with a heightened appetite for encountering the living God.
Surely then in the light of my theory it is hardly surprising that sincere seeking people declare that they have experienced something special in the most unlikely places.
The challenge however, and opportunity, is to choose a time and a destination of our own and make it a pilgrimage. Or else can we turn an ordinary journey into a pilgrimage and arrive to an encounter with the resurrected Jesus?
This attitude, if the conviction of a whole congregation, would transform the regular Sunday meetings of many churches.