By definition, Pentecostal means a Christian who’s faith is evidenced by speaking in tongues, healing, and even exorcism. If you ask the Baptists, it would include raising your hands, too. And Baptists don’t want to be Pentecostal.
Steven Turner, son of Pastor Turner and his wife Janine, was raised Baptist from the time he was in Royal Ambassadors all the way up to becoming a student leader at nearby Stonecrest Baptist Church. There are things Baptists don’t do, Steven told us.
“Folks at our church, we don’t judge, but we also don’t handle snakes, and we don’t separate church and football.” Living in the south means two things. You cheer on your football team Saturday, and cheer on your pastor Sunday.
Although he was keeping it lighthearted, there is something else Steven shared. When he was just a young teen attending Wednesday night youth group, he can still recall hearing a song that has meant a lot to him over the years.
“I was standing right next to ol’ Greg Simmons and this song came on. Years later I found out it was Avalon ‘Testify to Love.’ I didn’t know all the words but I just had to do something. So I raised my hand.”
The story goes that when this happened, his friends glanced over and some started snickering. Youth leader Christy Janson thought Steven needed something so she made her way over.
Christy: “I saw Steven’s hand in the air so maybe he needed to go to the bathroom or had a question about the Bible. ‘What’s up, Steve?’ but he didn’t answer and that’s when I got worried.”
Christy had heard about these things happening but not here. Not in this church. How had the devil got a foothold? She consulted the other leaders in the building and they set up a committee to look into it the following week. The pastor was made aware and added a few Scripture verses to the sermon the following Sunday.
Steven, meanwhile, had no idea there was anything going on behind the scenes. When Sunday rolled around and the choir was halfway through “What A Friend We Have in Jesus,” he raised a hand again and the organist nearly fell off her bench. The pastor’s lips became tight with the shenanigans this youth was putting on.
Steven remembers the pastors prayer during the offering, “…and Lord, let us make a joyful noise to you, give us opportunities to serve you as we raise our hands in worship, although we don’t mean that literally, we should keep our hands by our sides during the worship service… Amen.” Steven, being a normal person who knows things, knew that was a weird thing to say.
Steven would like everyone to know it’s OK to raise up hands in worship. He’s still not sure about snake-handling, though. Steven, neither are we. Until we know more, just keep it to the ones without the diamond-shaped heads.
-Out of the Wilderness