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

Progressing Church

Written by: on December 1, 2016



Global Pentecostalism, The New Face of Christian Social Engagement by Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori is a look at the Pentecostal movement in the 21st century. Miller and Yamamori take an in depth look at how the Pentecostal work has changed and developed since it’s modern day inception in 1901 in Topeka, Kansas to the present. They look at the morphing of this very conservative and somewhat narrow legalistic brand of Christianity to the fastest growing Protestant brand in todays’ world.

Miller and Yamamori define Pentecostalism as both a Holy Spirit inspiredly driven denomination as well as an independent movement that is not only focused on evangelism, holistic well being, and “ecstatic” worship, but also social needs and reform. Much focus is on an emergence of Pentecostalism defined as Progressive Pentecostalism, who combine classic pentecostal distinctive while addressing “the spiritual, physical and social needs of people in their community.” (Miller, 2). The authors are quick to point out that “Pentecostalism is not a uniform phenomena”(Miller, 19) but rather varies greatly depending upon culture and geographic locale. Probably the biggest departure from classic Pentecostalism that Miller and Yamamori point out is to distill common myths: hyper emotional services populated with physical manifestation, composition of Pentecostal churches are lower-class uneducated needy people, and that they are too heavenly minded.


I thought this book was well written, fairly reported, and a true snapshot of what the Pentecostal Church looks like today. I loved the fact that Miller and Yamamori stayed out of the theological weeds of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in the the 20th and 21st century. They reported on what was indeed happening today and not just in one social, economical, or geographical area, but what the Pentecostal Church looks like world wide.

As a third generation Pentecostal believer that traces my roots back to the 1906 Azusa Street Revival and the founding of the Assemblies of God in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914, I found this book spot on. I really liked the “Progressive Pentecostal” perspective that was offered and described as “a progressive element within the AG and other denominations that is not sectarian in a legalistic sense and instead embraces many elements of contemporary culture, albeit with clear limits regarding promiscuity, corrupt business practices, political compromise, and other behaviors.” (Miller 29) That is the Pentecostal church that I pastor and am a part.

This growing and developing “progression” that moves the Pentecostal Church from a holy huddle to a life changing place is what I am committed to as a leader. I and the Progressive Pentecostal Church hold fast to classic Pentecostal theology (embrace and practice of book of Acts Holy Spirit dispensation and activity) without the classic culture that has often accompanies it (hyper emotional services populated with various manifestations). The reason for this departure is not theological but cultural. First, the reason for the Pentecostal church is not for the “found” but the lost. In many situations, the lost never get a chance to experience life change, not because of the Holy Spirit but the hyper emotional culture surrounding it. Second, the Pentecostal Church as demonstrated in the book of Acts is all about meeting the holistic needs of people. Third, the best way to reach the lost (Great Commission) with the love of Jesus is to minister with compassion to the felt needs first just as Jesus did and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and work in them.

I feel the Progressive Pentecostal church is what the church of the first century was all about. Ministering to the spiritual needs: 3,000 saved at Pentecost. Ministering to the physical needs: Peter with lame man at Gate Beautiful. Ministering to the social needs: Acts 2:46, “…breaking bread from house to house, they ate with gladness.” As the authors point out this occurs in all shapes and sizes of churches, in all cultures, economies, and geographies. I write this blog from a café in Burma visiting with Pentecostal ministerial students and leaders that embrace the same brand of church that I lead half a world away. The Progressive Pentecostal Church truly is Progressing around the world.

About the Author

Aaron Cole

8 responses to “Progressing Church”

  1. AC,
    I feel like this, “Second, the Pentecostal Church as demonstrated in the book of Acts is all about meeting the holistic needs of people,” gets lost many times in Pentecostal circles. I really feel that if we can get back to the missional purpose of the Charismatic gifts, then more people in the west would be driven to our churches (this is my research topic with a focus on Millennials). what do you think? Be safe in Asia.

  2. Aaron Cole says:

    I agree. I found the Progressive Pentecostal church to be that kind of church.

  3. Aaron,
    I know how much you have traveled and experienced the Progressive Pentecostal Church globally. How does this translate back to Wisconsin? Is there space for the spiritual experience to affect the “lost” that come to your service? How do the Charismatic gifts affect you as a global leader of the church. You speak and interact with so many different cultures, how does this bring your spirit man to life? Are there moments when you have a new experience globally that you want to bring to the American church?

    Safe travels around the world as you write and minister.


  4. Pablo Morales says:

    So you are in Burma! I hope you have an edifying time with the church. We sponsor a ministry that provides medical and spiritual assistance to the displaced in the jungles of Myanmar. There are many refugees in Dallas that come from Burma. I am curious what is the situation of the church there.

    I am glad to read your blog. The way you describe the balance in your ministry is very encouraging to me. Coming from a non-charismatic church life, I can identify with the external perception of Pentecostalism that turns off many unbelievers. You said, “In many situations, the lost never get a chance to experience life change, not because of the Holy Spirit but the hyper emotional culture surrounding it.” Sadly, in a Latin American context, that seems to be a common experience. Throughout our discipleship ministry, it is not uncommon for me to hear from people who were initially distrusting of Christianity because the only version they knew was the “hyper emotional” type.
    May the Lord empower you to continue leading a balance ministry that has a meaningful impact in your community.

  5. Phil Goldsberry says:


    You have articulated your life and my life simultaneously. I was raised as a “classical” Pentecostal and now find myself in the “progressive” or “neo” category. I chose not to abandon the foundation of the “S” factor but ran from the hyper-emotionalism and “fruit and flake” factor.

    Do you feel that the book represents an anomaly for “developing nations” that cannot be replicated in the U.S.? What is the “need” that the U.S. church and the Holy Spirit could engage with?


  6. Rose Anding says:

    Thank Aaron.
    It was refreshing reading your blog; I remember my yesterdays, when my father would preach on how Peter was ministering to the people where 3,000 souls were saved at Pentecost.

    Therefore, Pentecost is about the birth of the church, and also about the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit came to live within us. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but the question is “How will we continue to respond to His indwelling, to His ministry?

    It has been a great learning experience, and you have been a key contributor, I thank you! Rose Maria

  7. Hey AC. I enjoyed your blog and the ensuing conversation. You quote Acts and breaking bread together from house to house. How does this get “fleshed” out in your church?

  8. Claire Appiah says:

    Thanks for such a thorough, well-articulated, and uplifting blog.
    From your extensive travels worldwide you are seeing first hand the growth of Progressive Pentecostalism. I’m curious as to how you were able to establish alliances with your brand of Pentecostalism half way around the world. I’m impressed with your commitment to this venture.
    Safe travels and thanks for enriching my cohort experience.

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