Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I think I want to be Pentecostal

Written by: on October 28, 2015


I must admit, I have had a very naive view of Pentecostalism. I’ve always just classified those that speak in tongues as Pentecostal and more lately I’ve connected Pentecostalism to the prosperity gospel. Well, I have been proven wrong. Miller and Yamamori’s book, Global Pentecostalism – The New Face of Christian Social Engagement, has given me a fresh view of Pentecostalism and makes me want to be one….if I’m not one already.

Miller and Yamamori start their book with a very broad definition of what it means to be Progressive Pentecostal. They claim it is “Christians who claim to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and the life of Jesus and seek to holistically address the spiritual, physical, and social needs of people in their community.[1]” Miller and Yamamori’s definition is so broad I think it covers the large majority of Christian denominations and by their definition I think I’m Pentecostal, and if I’m not I think I want to be.

I went into this book expecting to see some health/wealth gospel but was surprised to find the authors directly address this issue. Miller and Yamamori say, “It is important to note, however, that the goal of conversion is not financial; rather, financial gain is an unintended consequence of a changed life. As individuals become more disciplined in their spiritual lives, they establish patterns that contribute to their work life and business activities. This new ethic, however, does not exist in a vacuum, it is supported by a number of associated factors that strengthen the link between Pentecostalism and economic advancement.[2]” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that kind of Christianity? It’s not a hocus pocus form of faith where you all of a sudden become healthy and rich but instead the Truth leads to changed lives, and better lives.

According to the authors, Progressive Pentecostalism is a way of life, not just a Sunday ritual, and not just head knowledge. The authors say those that are truly progressive Pentecostals make this a way of life. They stated, “It is impossible to separate their Christian commitment from their social engagement with the community. They want to be known by their love for others, rather than by their words.[3]” And they later go on to state that “The task of the Christian, in their opinion, is to transform people holistically, ministering to their physical as well as spiritual needs. They believe their role is to be Christ’s agent in the world, following the example that he established during his ministry on earth.[4]

I believe the Gospel makes a positive difference in the lives of individuals as well as communities, and when it comes to making a difference we can’t separate someone’s spiritual needs from their physical/economic needs. We too often preach solid biblical messages on Sunday but follow it up with no social interaction during the week. Miller and Yamamori have made me want to join the progressive Pentecostal movement and they concluded their book with a hopefully outlook for Progressive Pentecostals when they said, “this movement seeks a balance approach to evangelism and social action that is modeled after Jesus’ example of not only preaching about the coming kingdom of God but also ministering to the physical needs of the people they encounter.[5]” Our cookie cutter weekend services don’t cut it anymore.

[1] Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism: the New Face of Christian Social Engagement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 2.

[2] Ibid., 169

[3] Ibid., 40

[4] Ibid., 40

[5] Ibid., 212

About the Author

Nick Martineau

Nick is a pastor at Hope Community Church in Andover, KS, founder of ILoveOrphans.com, and part of the LGP5 cohort.

15 responses to “I think I want to be Pentecostal”

  1. Jon Spellman says:

    Nick, we would welcome you to the ranks! But you might want to look into the story of Dennis Bennett and the response from his congregation when the word got out… lol!
    I think you probably are already more “Pentecostal” than you even realize… You are:
    -Desirous of seeing people healed and made whole
    -Observable love, joy, peace, patience….

    What if we removed the question of “do you speak in tongues…?” from our introductions? I wonder if most folks aren’t a little Pentecostal… hmmm

    • Nick Martineau says:

      I agree Jon…We need to remove tongues from the initial question. This book has really helped broaden my view of Pentecostals. The truth is if we studied Baptists, Lutherans, etc. we’d probably broaden all our definitions of these denominations. I agree with you…we are all closer to each other then we think.

  2. Mary Pandiani says:

    To your point about Progressive Pentecostals who live their faith as a way of life and the impact that occurs economically, I’m reminded of what I learned the first time I went to India, outside of Bangalore. Apparently there had been some persecution against Christians in that region, but what was pointed out to me wasn’t that it was because of how they worshipped. Those who were doing the persecution were jealous of how well financially the Christians were doing. With values of treating one another with love, kindness, forgiveness, and honoring every individual, those who follow Christ create a healthier environment for economic conditions, resulting in prosperity. I was surprised that the persecution was characterized as religiously motivated, but in fact it was economically motivated. Hard to separate out the two.

    • Nick Martineau says:

      Thanks for sharing that…That is a side of persecution I’ve never heard before but also seems to make sense. In Uganda there is quite a Pentecostal movement and so many of the churches and ministries are funded with Western money. Your comment makes we question what native Ugandans think of those ministries. I’ll be looking into that now. Thanks.

    • Brian Yost says:

      “With values of treating one another with love, kindness, forgiveness, and honoring every individual, those who follow Christ create a healthier environment for economic conditions, resulting in prosperity.”
      Mary, I love the way you put this. Regardless of our circumstances or where we begin, Kingdom living leads to something better.

  3. Dave Young says:

    Nick, The walk-away for me from this book was that we need to rely more deeply on the Spirit in our worship and in our ministries. That the Spirit will help us in our bold work the engages society. So I agree with you that “Our cookie cutter weekend services don’t cut it anymore.” and the reason they don’t is because we’re so programed them and we leave little room for the work of the Spirit. I’m pointing a finger at myself – not you brother – even though we have a rich charismatic heritage we’ve grown rigid. We’ve grown safe. We don’t exercise too much faith or allow too much space for the Spirit. Thanks for the conviction.

    • Nick Martineau says:

      Dave…So true. Not too long ago we decided to start our 2nd service 15 minutes later so that our 1st service would have a little extra time and have some freedom in the service. A little change like that caused quite the number of conversations. (-: And don’t mess around if a Chiefs game is on at Noon. Better make sure that service is well timed and ends on time. That’s something we are still working on in our church. Slowly but surely.

      • Jon Spellman says:

        Another piece of this conversation is that we have so focused our pastoral energy on the “service” that sometimes we forget altogether about being Spirit-Filled on Monday through Saturday!


  4. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Nick, In your last paragraph you use the phrase, social interaction. I struck me that social interaction should lead to social action. Too many times I think social action is cool and people do it to want to make a big statement through championing a cause. To think of social interaction and being committed to more of a “love your neighbor” approach than to some big banner cause seems like it would be a good process for a church. Knowing ourselves and our neighbors I am sure that will lead to big-banner-cause engagement, but not for the sake of big banner. It really seemed like “loving your neighbor” (social interaction) was Jackie Pullinger’s approach and since she moved into the Heroin slum ghettos of Hong Kong, St. Stephen’s Society became known for its love for addicts and amazing personal a social transformation took place. Funny how one phrase can lead to so much thought!:)

    • Nick Martineau says:

      Thanks Phil..Glad that stuck with you. I used it on purpose but sometimes social action is just action. Social interaction to me speaks more about relationships. Maybe it’s just semantics.

  5. Travis Biglow says:

    Howdy, i addressed this this morning. I preached from John 10.10 Jesus said, “i have come that you might have life and more abundantly. I dont think we just got saved to save others and make it to heaven when we have a whole life to live. Progressive Pentecostalism is for the long haul and for our purpose on earth. Jesus said he came that we might have a life. And Christianity can be so heavenly minded that they don’t realize we have to occupy till the Lord comes. This means being successful in all the Lord leads us in and too!

  6. Dawnel Volzke says:

    I love your statement, “We too often preach solid biblical messages on Sunday but follow it up with no social interaction during the week.” Unfortunately, people in churches don’t often act like Christians should.

    Deuteronomy 15:11 (ESV) says, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” The world is looking at churches to see if they are opening their hands to the needy. To the world, this is the mark of a Christian. So, it should be no surprise to us that the Pentecostal movement is seeing so much growth, while the traditional church institutions are seeing decline.

  7. Brian Yost says:

    “Miller and Yamamori’s definition is so broad I think it covers the large majority of Christian denominations.”

    That stood out to me as well. Many of the key proponents put forth by Miller and Yamamori are things that should define all Christians in every denomination or church.

Leave a Reply