DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Compelled by the Love of Jesus

Written by: on November 28, 2016

Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori—Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement

 

Introduction

In this work, Donald E Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, sociology of religion scholars, discuss Pentecostalism’s beginnings and typologies to the impact of its current global reach in social ministry. This book is the product of the authors’ four-year research study of active Pentecostal engagement in social ministries in twenty different countries in various parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and eastern Europe. The thesis of the book is that “some of the most innovative social programs in the world are being initiated by fast growing Pentecostal churches.” [1]

The authors dispel the myth that Pentecostalism is one phenomenon and demonstrate that it is a “complex social movement with many different strains.” [2] This work focuses primarily on an emergent, global element of the movement they call, “Progressive Pentecostalism” which seeks to unify evangelism and social ministry as a singular Christian witness.

 

Summary

According to Miller and Yamamori, Progressive Pentecostals are “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.” [3] The terms “holistic ministry” and “integral ministry” indicate that “evangelism should never be divorced from meeting the needs of the whole individual.” [4] This reflects how Pentecostalism is evolving from an “otherworldly sect” waiting on the return of Christ, to a “dominant force in reshaping global Christianity.” [5] The authors declare that Progressive Pentecostals are characterized as a lively worshipping community that intentionally seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, the compelling force that drives their compassionate service to others. They view their interventions in social problems as a mandate from God and a way to identity with the mission and person of Christ.

In their research, Miller and Yamamori encountered a wide spectrum of social ministry that Progressive Pentecostals are engaged in. The diversity of their social ministry includes: “responding to natural disasters; providing food, clothing, and shelter; drug rehabilitation programs; HIV/AIDS prevention and medical care; job training; visiting people in prison  and providing support systems for their families; family reunification; pregnancy counseling; medical and dental services; services to the elderly, handicapped, and single parents; educational programs for children; and residential programs for street children and orphans.” [6] Some of this pervasive social ministry is due to churches becoming financially equipped to establish large scale social programs, often through partnerships with non- governmental organizations.

Progressive Pentecostals are basically concerned with ameliorating social conditions and spiritually transforming individuals and societies. Generally, their agenda does not include effecting change through reform measures pertaining to socio-political structures and practices. Rather, their strategy for addressing the systemic factors that create social problems in the first place is to nurture a new generation of Christians to be involved in leadership positions in the public sector to promote equitable social policies.

 

Analysis/Reflection

Reading this book was a breath of fresh air!  First of all, because of the various Christocentric Scriptural mandates that compel Progressive Pentecostals to respond to their divine calling in accordance with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, because it has greatly enhanced my awareness of tools to enrich my dissertation research concerned with marginalized, vulnerable youth in sub-Saharan Africa. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experiences from the diverse case studies and experimental approaches. I paid close attention to the research methodologies employed by Miller and Yamamori and the problem-resolution tactics of Christian churches and organizations.

Research studies pertaining to “authoritative communities” in the lives of youth alluded to by the authors correspond with my present research findings. Specifically, that “individuals who grow up outside the boundaries of parental authority and the moral demands of structured communities actually develop different neural pathways in the brain when compared with children who are reared in loving environments that provide age-appropriate moral guidance.” [7] For this reason, children left on their own are considered a threat to the moral fabric of society because of their tendency to adopt self-destructive and predatory behaviors. Miller and Yamamori indicate the Pentecostal churches that are devising programs to combat this problem are also observing its impact on the community.

In Ethiopia, Dr. Florence Muindi embraced the methods of many Pentecostal congregations in moving away from “a charity model of social engagement and into a community-organizing and/or development program.” [8] This contemporary paradigm is designed to promote “community cohesion and encourage members of the community to work together to solve their collective problems.” [9] I agree with Muindi’s statement that the church is in a strategic position to effect long-term change in the community as Christ’s representative in a suffering world.

Miller and Yamamori were perplexed by St. Stephens Society in Hong Kong, a drug rehabilitation ministry headed by Jackie Pullinger (2015 Advance experience). As a faith based Christian ministry it is committed to transforming addicts by the power of Jesus’ unconditional love, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of prayer.  According to the authors’ observations on site, “Two elements that seemed pervasive in the four facilities we visited were unconditional love and what we described as supernatural intervention.” [10] They acknowledged, “Something was happening to these individuals at the deepest level of their being. In our interviews with them, they claimed that the Holy Spirit had entered their bodies and a process of spiritual transformation was initiated.” [11] The researchers term it, the “S” factor.

 

Notes

  1. Donald Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 6.
  2. Ibid., 1
  3. Ibid., 2.
  4. Ibid., 59.
  5. Ibid., 212.
  6. Ibid., 42.
  7. Ibid., 97.
  8. Ibid., 39.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid., 104.
  11. Ibid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Claire Appiah

8 responses to “Compelled by the Love of Jesus”

  1. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Claire:

    You did a great job associating the “S” factor and your dissertation. In light of your focus, do you feel that Miller and Yamamori found a catalyst that is proven? With an 85% success ratio is that enough to validate the usage and engagement with the Holy Spirit?

    I am not being anti-Spirit, in fact I believe that Miller/Yamamori gave sound theology and proof that the intervention of the Holy Spirit is a necessity.

    Phil

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Phil,
      I don’t get the impression that Miller and Yamamori believe that the “S” factor is a proven catalyst. But, as sociologists they also cannot dismiss its potency. Pertaining to the Holy Spirit they say “We do not dismiss this layer of interpretation, although our framework of analysis limits us to what we have observed at the human level.” p147.
      Phil, thank you for your kind words in chat today.
      Have an enjoyable time off at the end of this module.

  2. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Claire,

    With the work you want to do with African youth, have you found anything in St. Stephens and Pullinger and the “S” factor that might help the youth you want to help?

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Most definitely, Mark. It is only God’s Holy Spirit in the youthful recipients that can bring about true spiritual regeneration and transformation. I don’t refer to it as the “S” factor as if it is some unknown mystery. I see the experience as the work of the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity.

  3. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Claire,
    I was touched by your topic, “Compelled by the Love of Jesus”, it is the love of Jesus, that causes us to focus on the social conditions and spiritually transforming of Individuals and societies.
    It has been a great learning experience for us this semester, it was great being with you in London, and knowing that you are there for me and I for you. Thanks for being you! You adds peace and joy to our cohort! Rose Maria

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Rose,
      Thank you for your kind words. We are also compelled by the love of Jesus to be available to each other as a cohort.
      London/Oxford was a great experience. Looking forward to our next meet in Capetown.

  4. Hi Claire. I think this book was a breath of fresh to me as well. It was nice to read some positive things of what is happening all over the world. No doubt this is helpful for your project. Really enjoyed working with you this term.

  5. Claire Appiah says:

    Hi Aaron,
    I found this book to be encouraging and inspiring. Yes, we have had a great term growing and being challenged.

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