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

Is It Just the Pentecostals? Global movement

Written by: on November 30, 2017

Pentecostals were referred to during my times as ‘holiness’ people. They played loud guitars and drums while jumping and dancing around. They had to be able to speak in tongues and stayed in the church for hours. At least that is what we were told. My first experience with the holiness church was at the age of 18 attending a funeral of a former classmate. I must admit I was hesitant about attending, but I wanted to show my respect because he was a nice people and didn’t deserve to be murdered. One has to understand the black worship experience. The grieving family entered the church crying. The pastor announced that Earnest was dead and we are alive. After that announcement, the piano began making a loud noise, a gentleman by me plugged in a guitar, and they became to sing and dance. What a service! But it was unique to me.

Authors Miller and Yamamori shared the stereotype comments about Pentecostals. For example,  “they spoke in tongues, slain in the spirit at every worship service, they were lower class people, and so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good.” (20, 21) That last phrase I have heard in my church surroundings, but I didn’t realize that it pertained to the Pentecostals. They presented a scenario as to who the church attracts as members: “attracts people who are suffering from anomic, in need of stabilization, unemployed and other social problems;  people coming from churches that are unwelcoming and critical of those within the church. He describes the church is similar to a surrogate mother and is a welcoming and loving church.” ( 22,23) These are some of the reasons for the growth of the Pentecostal movement.

 

As a Baptist (protestant) church some of our members are from the same above cloth. In fact, one our vision statement is to be a welcoming church. Now, of course, some of the members are not on board and in need of spiritual transformation. We do not have a whole speak in tongues in our worship services, but we have had in past years had a view instances of that experience. 1 Corinthians 14: 27-28 speaks on no one should speak in unknown tongues without an interpreter. I have witnessed people slain in the spirit in our worship service hosted by others. I am sure other denominations will see themselves in this description of Pentecostalism.

The authors categorized the Pentecostalism today, a few are:

  1. The classical Pentecostal churches per the scholars include the Assembly of God, The Church of God, The Church of God and Christ, and International Church of the Four Square Gospel. (27)
  2. Indigenous Pentecostal not in America but Africa and Brazil to name a few countries (27)
  3. Independent Neo-Pentecostal churches have charismatic pastors with no seminary or bible training. They are market savvy with the ability to build megachurches. They are the cutting edge of the Pentecostal movement, thy embrace the reality of the Holy Spirit but package the religion in a way that makes sense to culturally attune to teens and young adults, as well as upwardly specifically mobile people who did not grow up in the Pentecostal tradition. (27)
  4. Charismatic renewal movement spontaneous outbreak of speaking in tongues. This movement has moved onto college campuses. Interpreted as a revitalize worship inviting people into intimate expressions of prayer and thanksgiving. (28)
  5. Proto Charismatic Christians who have not Pentecostal traditions but they speak in tongues, believe in miracles, believe God speaks in dreams and vision, for example, Vineyard Christian Fellowship. (28)
  6. Prosperity churches are the fastest growing churches residing in predominantly poor communities sharing that God can heal incurable disease and that God will financially bless them when they financially support the church, as well as, teach them how to save money.(29)
  7. Progressive Pentecostals are identified as integral or holistic gospel. They are upwardly mobile, better educated and affluently. They mold their behavior after Jesus who preached about the coming of the kingdom, healed people, and minister to the social needs. They establish medical clinics, ministering to orphans, caring for the widows around the country. (30)

I did not realize there was such a variety of Pentecostals. The author’s reviews are based on the subjects they interview and visit, but they are just examples of those categorized as a part of the Pentecostal movements. For example, not all prosperity churches are in poor communities, but their membership does include those from the poor communities.

They believe Pentecostalism can affect social transformation. Pentecostals believe in human rights.  “Everyone is made in the image of God and has equal value in God’s eyes and can read the bible for themselves. Everyone has access to God considering the issue of inclusion into the ministry Gay Preachers.” (33)  The LGBTQ fighting for justice has risen in the Christian community, and sadly the response from some of the Christian community is not Christ-like. The church is good to support social injustices that don’t challenge their personal moral system. But we must remember Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” Luke 4:18

 

Conclusion

Worship services with energizing elements are the future of the progressive Pentecostalism. There is a movement currently where churches are being planted not related to traditional denominations just to provide Sunday services. They don’t own any buildings but rent schools and other locations to house their services. They are inviting to the millenniums and those tired of the traditional services.  The authors state that the “Holy Spirit speaks to them as their duties as Christians and they are merely the vessels of a larger divine purpose.” (222)

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

11 responses to “Is It Just the Pentecostals? Global movement”

  1. Jim Sabella says:

    Lynda, I think you make an important point: “I did not realize there was such a variety of Pentecostals.” I think it’s safe to say that Historically, there were not always the variety of Pentecostals as there are today. Much of the wonderful and unique expressions in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are due to the move of the Holy Spirit around the world and the exponential increase of the Pentecostal experience, that crosses cultures, theological and geopolitical borders. I appreciate your sharing your experiences. Very interesting! Thank you Lynda.

    • Lynda Gittens says:

      Jim,

      I have visited Assembly of God churches in my 20’s and never realize they were considered Pentecostal. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Mary Walker says:

    “Independent Neo-Pentecostal churches have charismatic pastors with no seminary or bible training.”
    Lynda, as you say there are so many different kinds of Pentecostals. Jim is in a mainline Pentecostal denomination. I wonder what he thinks of allowing people to pastor a church with no seminary or bible training?
    Personally, I’ve seen some major wrecks when the church is centered around the pastor and not the people are easily led.
    I’m thinking a balance is needed – yes theology can be dry and dusty, but having some helps people to discern the Jim Jones’s in this world.

    • Mary Walker says:

      I meant to say “church is centered around the pastor and the people are easily led.” I wish this program would allow better editing!!!!

    • Lynda Gittens says:

      Hi Mary,

      We need to be aware of all preachers in leadership. Traditionally the pastor preached from the holy spirit and the Bible along with God was their teacher. Now seminary and bible schools are one of the most promote propaganda in the church leadership. Some denominations have made it more of a priority than the relationship and the anointing of the holy spirit of the person. Pastors are learning who to prep and present the text. This is good. I wonder sometimes, how much of the holy spirit was involved.
      We don’t want any more Jones’ preachers but can we really say, because you didn’t go to seminary or bible college you are not called?

      • Kristin Hamilton says:

        Isn’t there some sort of middle ground, Lynda? If we truly believe a person is called, aren’t we responsible to get them the best training and education possible for the incredible responsibility they are about to undertake? For example, my husband and I are both teachers. We would never be allowed to teach without the required training because in the past we have seen what happens under untrained teachers.
        It may seem harsh, but I really do think it is irresponsible to put someone in a role they have not been trained to do. OF COURSE we trust the Holy Spirit to guide, but where souls and lives are at stake, I believe Spirit works through education as well.

        • Lynda Gittens says:

          The requirements to teach are designed by man. Not sure if it is Holy Spirit guided but could be. The system for teaching is different from the 60’s. Those teachers were there because they wanted to invest in young people lives. Sometimes we focus so much on rules and not the compassion and gifts of the person. I think a teach should spend more time in a classroom as well as studies. All the knowledge does not make One a good teacher. My father was an awesome devoutly teacher because of his love of math and wanting to invest in the students. He had a Masters. He retired when they implemented a requirement for them to take test to keep their jobs. Now the performance ratings in these schools are low because no one cares about the student.
          The requirements of church leadership is apart of my dissertation and yes I am not a supporter of most. Some man rules are not biblical supported but to me it appears to be more a method of man asserting their power. Leaders biblically were anointed by God. When the disciples were appointed by Jesus were they scholars?
          We must allow God to handle his business- and we should lean on discernment not our own authority.

  3. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    Yes Lynda, you are so right in the difference of church movements. Currently, I am involved in a church plant that is non-denominational, owns no building, and meets in a school. We hope to partner with another community organization like the Boys and Girls club, and share a space together.
    Thank you for sharing your church experience. What an energetic and different service, and I had fun picturing you in that experience.

  4. Stu Cocanougher says:

    “I did not realize there was such a variety of Pentecostals.”

    When I was in the Philippines, the fastest growing churches were Charismatic Roman Catholic Churches. The numbers were so high that the Rome sent a bishop just to keep them from moving over into non-Catholic Pentecostal churches.

    Also, Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church calls himself “Reformed and Charismatic.”

  5. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    I grew up in what Miller notes as a “classic penteconstalism” beginning with COGIC and then transitioning to Fourquare. What I have found in my personal experience is that many churches today despite their denominational label have blurred worship experiences. Meaning that I can walk into some protestant churches and while they would not identify as pentecostals much of that tradition can be witnessed in their worship experiences and community. It is important to be open to the Spirit allow Him to move in the hearts, lives and experiences of His people in whatever manner He chooses. I am grateful for my classic pentecostal tradition. In my life now I just want to be apart of a community that Loves God and Loves People!

  6. Kristin Hamilton says:

    It’s funny to hear you describe Pentecostals as “holiness” people, Lynda. Not that they aren’t, but when the Wesleyan Holiness folks stepped away from the Holiness Pentecostals (over speaking in tongues, of course), they made sure to stress ownership of that term. So weird that we can even find a way to battle over who gets to claim “holiness” as a descriptor.

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