DMINLGP

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

Head, Heart, Hands

Written by: on October 27, 2015

One of the numerous times that Jesus’ detractors tried to trip him up he was asked “which is the greatest commandment?”  His response is a summary of all God’s instructions: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[1]

If I had only one text to explain Christianity to someone, this would be it. Love God and love others in such a way that involves your head, your heart and your hands. The premise of the book “Global Pentecostalism” is that progressive Pentecostals, filled with God’s Spirit, have taken up the call to love God and others with their heads and their hearts—but especially with their hands, through social engagement.

While it’s true that evangelicals, Catholics, and other mainline groups use social involvement in order to be the “hands” of Christ, the authors’ contention is that the involvement of Pentecostals is accelerating significantly. They make this conclusion “since we believe that the root of Pentecostal social engagement is the experience of collective worship. It is the divine-human encounter that empowers people to help their immediate neighbor as well as engage in various community building activities.”[2]

Steve Addison, an Australian director of Church Resource Ministries, and an expert on movements of the church has noted, “Pentecostalism is perhaps the fastest expanding movement—religious, cultural or political—ever.”[3] He confirms the insights about social engagement made be Miller and Yamamori: “Pentecostalism in particular is proving more potent than government programs and social movements in improving the lives of the poor and marginalized.”[4] It seems that these progressive Pentecostals have internalized the idea that we believers are Jesus’ hands and feet.

It’s easy for the skeptic to reduce this growth to a simple equation: human need + compassionate help = growth. And on the one hand there is nothing wrong with that formula: it demonstrates much of Jesus’ ministry. But the reductionist mindset that eliminates the supernatural power of God is not only faithless, but it also fails to explain exponential growth and miraculous works.   The Holy Spirit of God is inspiring service, is meeting needs, is healing, nourishing, and freeing; he’s using hundreds of millions of Pentecostal Christians around the world to participate in this work.

My denomination has a shared history with Foursquare and Assemblies but over time they moved into different streams: Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. My Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination went down the Evangelical stream; I have a natural affinity for my Pentecostal kin. I like the way the authors put it: “the membrane separating these movements is relatively thin”. [5] Our theology is almost identical. A quick look at the logos of the C&MA and Foursquare confirms they’re similar, with only slight differences. The actual difference isn’t in mission or theology, but in practice. My tribe needs to remember and embrace again the powerful expressions, manifestations, and power encounters with God’s Spirit both in our worship and in our ministry. Pentecostals seem to have a more authentic and intense desire and expectation for the Holy Spirit’s work. And with that experience they are empowered to serve their neighbors. To be fair, I see this in my own community of faith as well. But how much more powerful could it be with a fresh wind from the Holy Spirit?

[1] Mark 12:30-31 (New Living Translation).

[2] Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism: the New Face of Christian Social Engagement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 132.

[3] Steve Addison, Movements That Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel, Revised ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2011), 44.

[4] Ibid. 45.

[5] Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, 3.

About the Author

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Dave Young

husband, dad, friend, student of culture and a pastor.