New Life Church is "one of those tongue-talking churches," the senior pastor said unashamedly on Sunday.
His statement was met with applause from the Colorado Springs mega-congregation.
Pastor Brady Boyd acknowledges that there's a wide range of teachings on the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. To some, it's foreign or weird and to others, it's no longer active.
But Boyd believes the spiritual practice is as real today as it was 2,000 years ago when believers in the very first church service spoke in tongues (as recorded in the New Testament).
Continuing his message series on the "The Supernatural," Boyd felt he hit a particularly sensitive topic as he was swarmed with questions on the gift of tongues before he even preached on it this past weekend.
He has many friends who disagree with him on the subject. But for Boyd, speaking in tongues – known to some as a private prayer language – is nothing out of the ordinary. Every church he attended while growing up he saw the demonstration of tongues, he said.
"I thought everybody had that at birth because of the way I grew up," he told the New Life congregation.
He himself couldn't imagine being without it. Pointing out that pastoring a church is tough, he said he would not survive long-term at New Life if he didn’t pray in tongues – which gives him "amazing strength."
But traditions aside, Boyd asked the thousands in attendance to "let Scripture interpret Scripture" and approach the Bible as if they were reading it for the first time.
"I'm not going to stretch Scripture," the New Life pastor emphasized.
Reading from Acts 2 in the New Testament, Boyd underscored the account that on the first day of the first church service, every one of the 120 people were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.
"If I were reading the Bible for the very first time, as a young believer, and I was trying to make sense of this tongue thing, I think that would jump off the page at me and go 'wow, if in the very first church service everyone there spoke in tongues when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, it should be fairly common among us today," said Boyd.
"I think that's a safe assumption on all of our parts."
The senior pastor went on to point out the God-fearing Jews who recognized that their language was being spoken by people that didn't know the Jews' native language.
Speaking in tongues, Boyd said, could be used to communicate the Gospel to unbelievers. Thousands were born again that day when the Holy Spirit first came down upon believers. And Boyd said he knows tons of stories of such witnessing in tongues happening today.
"Sometimes we think tongues is just people getting in an emotional frenzy," he said. But the spiritual gift is practical, he stressed. It is intended to draw people to God.
"I think that oftentimes we have made the spiritual gifts about us. 'What does it do for me?'" he noted. "Not every time are the spiritual gifts for you. Oftentimes gifts are there ... to draw people to Christ."
Even if attendees might dismiss other reasons on why Christians should embrace the gift of tongues, Boyd asked them to "at least consider that God may want to use you to communicate the Gospel to unbelievers."
Other reasons he listed to embrace the gift are: to strengthen fellow believers, to personally communicate with God, and to "strengthen ourselves."
If the gift is used properly in a public setting, such as in church, then the body of believers can be strengthened, Boyd said. The pastor, citing Apostle Paul, noted the need for boundaries as to not become consumed by fascination with speaking in tongues and get away from the priority of the Scriptures.
On a personal level, praying in tongues "edifies" believers, or "does something in our hearts to strengthen us for the [spiritual] battle we're all in," said Boyd.
"Oftentimes I just find myself praying in the tongue God has given me ... and I find an amazing reservoir of strength from heaven that I could never tap into in the natural but it's certainly available in the spiritual," he said.
When Boyd prays in tongues, sometimes he knows what he's praying for and other times he has no idea what he's praying for.
"But I know this: the Holy Spirit is God and He's omnipotent and omniscient and if He urges me to pray I'm going to pray because He knows what needs prayer," said Boyd.
Dispelling some myths about the gift of tongues, the New Life pastor said tongues isn't always the first evidence of baptism of the Holy Spirit and it does not signify that the Christian is a mature one. Also, speaking in tongues does not mean one will lose control and fall into a trance.
"The Holy Spirit never ever asks us to lose our free will to do anything on His behalf," he stressed. "God is not looking for somebody He can take over."
New Life attendees were given the opportunity after the sermon to pray and ask God for the spiritual gift of tongues.
"We lay down our pride, our unbelief, our doctrine that's been wrong," Boyd prayed. "We say 'yes' to your giftings."
Boyd began leading New Life Church, one of the largest churches in the country, in 2007. He kicked off "The Supernatural" message series at the start of the new year. Topics he covered since January include miracles, giving, leadership, prophesying and demons.