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:
- 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)
- Indigenous Pentecostal not in America but Africa and Brazil to name a few countries (27)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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
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)