carpet time

Carpet time is a new word for an old, old phenomenon. Christians have been falling out, being slain in the Spirit, and resting in the Spirit for centuries. It goes to show that Christians—like all people—are playful when it comes to language. Language isn’t meant to be merely functional… it can also be fresh, vivid, and picturesque.

I particularly enjoyed finding the quotation from Heidi Baker about carpet time in Mozambique being referred to as “dirt time” in that country (see 2000 quote), due to there usually being dirt floors at their worship services rather than carpets!

A note about formatting: as you may be able to guess, an asterisk (*) before a word in the definition means that the word has its own entry in the Dictionary. So in the example below, a person could look up ecstasy, as well as slain in the Spirit and soak in the Spirit. The term ecstasy is in “small caps” here because it’s not a Christianese word but rather more of an essay entry that I’ve included in the Dictionary.


carpet time n. Time spent on the floor in prayer or *ecstasy after swooning or falling down due to the power of the Holy Spirit.
The term was coined in 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church to describe the phenomenon they observed there. Since then, the term soaking is gradually becoming the preferred term there (see 2003 citation). (Note that the church has undergone name changes, to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in 1995 and then to Catch the Fire Toronto in 2010.)
The original inspiration for the Christianese term carpet time was perhaps influenced by the term carpet time (also known as circle time) that primary school teachers have used since the early 1990s to refer to time that children spend in group activity on the floor.
See also *slain in the Spirit; *soak in the Spirit.
1994 Chevreau Catch the Fire: The Toronto Blessing: An Experience of Renewal and Revival 51 : Those who’ve done “carpet time” at the Airport have a frame of reference for much of what is declared in the Psalm [Psalm 23], not least being the dynamic of verse 2: “He makes me lie down \zthreedots”! 1995 Housewright “Making a Joyful Noise” Dallas Morning News (30 Aug.) 32A : People remained sprawled on the floor—“doing carpet time,” as they called it—for long periods. 1995 Grady “‘Toronto Blessing’ Spreads in U.S.” Charisma (Mar.) 54 : Each person moves his stackable chair to the side of the auditorium to prepare for what has come to be known in this 600-member congregation as “carpet time.” This new ritual, so nicknamed because scores of people fall backward onto the floor after receiving prayer, occurs during holy communion. 1998 Parent Spiritscapes: Mapping the Spiritual and Scientific Terrain 136 : People began to burst into gales of laughter, they fell on the floor jerking (known as doing carpet time), they staggered around as if drunk, they began to experience visions, and most popular of all, they began to experience physical healing. 1999 Percy Power and the Church 148 : The church [Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship] encourages believers to join in what they call “carpet time”: falling backwards, resting on the floor, or being “slain in the Spirit.” 2000 Charisma 25/6–11 86 : Besides attending evening meetings, the youngest children rise early in the morning to gather in makeshift shelters where the dirt flies as they dance and sing their African songs of praise to Jesus. Heidi adds with a laugh that in Mozambique people overcome by the Holy Spirit don’t do “carpet time” but “dirt time.” 2003 Poloma Main Street Mystics: The Toronto Blessing and Reviving Pentecostalism 56 : “Carpet time” seemed apropos for the playfulness of the early stage of TACF revival (where people were encouraged to remain on the floor and “soak” once they fell). In time the more generic “soaking” replaced the earlier term and included the practice of assuming a prone position. 2006 MacNutt The Healing Reawakening 201 : Another extraordinary phenomenon in this Third Wave is the great success of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship…. Thousands of visitors, including many pastors … came to see and experience healing, basking in the intense presence of God (“carpet time,” they call it). 2007 Haldane God Hears 75 : I sit here writing this chapter having just spent some carpet time with the Lord—you know, where your snotty tears are staining your carpet and you are crying in the arms of God. 2007 Levin People in Glass Houses 149 : Carpet time: The time between going unconscious and when you wake up and go back to your seat.
  • Guest

    I would have expected Carpet Time to refer to the portion of a children’s Sunday School class when the kids gather around, sitting on the floor to hear a story (possibly even accompanied by a flannel-graph or puppets).  This would be distinct from the time when they are sitting in chairs in rows or at tables.

    • timoteostewart

      I think you’re right. It’s probably true that teachers in children’s Sunday Schools do use “carpet time” in this way. Especially if these teachers have background teaching in kindergartens or other non-church settings where the kids do move from carpets to chairs and vice versa.

      If Sunday School teachers use “carpet time” to mean that part of the class where the kids are on the carpet, then that wouldn’t be a Christianese use of the term though. That would be the same meaning as ordinary public school teachers use it. If anything, that would be an example of teacher’s slang.

      Since this dictionary is focused on Christian slang (or as I like to call it, Christianese), I am only researching the “Christian” ways of using certain terms.

      So: when “carpet time” means “the time that little kids spend on the floor during a class,” then that is teacher’s slang (which would be a whole new dictionary!), and you hear it in a variety of preschool and kindergarten classes as well as (probably) Sunday Schools.

      But when “carpet time” means “the time that someone is in a daze on the floor because of a spiritual experience,” then that’s Christian slang, and you only hear it in certain Christian churches and communities.

      Thank you very much for your comment.