DMINLGP

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

It’s not the healthy who need a doctor

Written by: on October 9, 2014

Reading Global Pentecostalism was a ‘coming home’ experience for me. I do confess, just as when Miller and Yamamori started their research, I too have held negative preconceived ideas about Pentecostals, as being too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good, and as adherents of that dodgy Health and Wealth theology. Where I got those ideas from, I’m not sure. Whether it was from my über-conservative ministry training in a Reformed Calvinist College, or my good old-fashioned Baptist roots, or even from the influence of the Cape Town Churches we visited, I do not know. But somehow along the way, I picked up the idea that Pentecostals were a branch of Christianity that I probably shouldn’t get too involved with.

However, Global Pentecostalism, has begun to change all that. In fact, while reading this text, I found myself wondering whether I may in fact be one of these aspiring Progressive Pentecostals without even knowing it! From the exuberant worship, holistic gospel message, to the emphasis on healing and spiritual gifts, these are all aspects of a church culture we are trying to create in our church plant.

But more than that, in reading this text, I found myself realising how slow we are in Wales to comprehend how God is working around the world, or more specifically, below the equator. Why is the dynamic and developing holistic gospel of Progressive Pentecostalism burgeoning in the Southern hemisphere, but not in Wales? I ask, how can I encourage these Progressive Pentecostal values to find their way to these Welsh shores? How can I foster this holistic gospel here in my home church?

For a former social worker in India, preaching the gospel alone is not enough: “Material development, he said, is important, but it is not sufficient. People need an internal transformation that realigns their moral compass. When this occurs, there is a lifestyle change that, over time, provides the basis for potential upward social mobility. Economic development programs are not unimportant, he said, but they are not sufficient in his view…Rather, a holistic understanding of personal and social transformation is more likely to succeed.” [1] As St. Stephen’s ministry to drug addicts in Hong Kong have also found, “The long-term problem is to fill the void that made the individual vulnerable to drugs, and in his mind the solution is spiritual…” [2]

The holistic focus that Progressive Pentecostalism is centred on is both fascinating and inspiring, especially as in recent months I’ve been thinking and praying about the idea of setting up a Life Centre some time in the future. A place where people in the local community can find practical help in terms of drug prevention, food vouchers, literacy classes, family support and so on, but also a place where healing of the inner person can take place, bringing restoration and wholeness to the mind, heart and soul, not just the body. Global Pentecostalism has served to stoke that desire.

As Miller and Yamamori explain in great detail, the centre of Christianity has indeed shifted from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern, and surely we cannot ignore the fact that the greatest growth within Christianity is taking place among churches 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] This is where it’s ‘happening’ in God’s universal Church. The question is, what should we at Bethel Community Church do in response? A very inspiring and encouraging read.

[1] Miller, Donald E. and Tetsunao Yamamori: Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement, (London, England: University of California Press, 2007), 63

[2] Miller, Donald E. and Tetsunao Yamamori, ibid., 62

[3] Miller, Donald E. and Tetsunao Yamamori, ibid., 2

About the Author

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Liz Linssen

8 responses to “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor”

  1. mm Deve Persad says:

    Liz, I trust that the comfort of God has been tangible to you in these days.

    Thanks for your reflections on this book. You captured my attention when you said: “I’ve been thinking and praying about the idea of setting up a Life Centre some time in the future.” One of the things that I noticed as we drove around Capetown was that many of the churches were called “church centres” or just “centres”. There seemed to be a greater awareness of the need for churches to offer more than “services” but to actually “service the community”. Which leads me to these questions: If Bethel Community Church could address one under serviced community need, with excellence, what need would that be? Whose already involved in addressing that need and how could Bethel enhance their efforts?

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Deve
      Thank you so much for your feedback and comments.
      I believe this is something your church already does well, partnering with local organisations to provide a service into the community, and it’s something I’ve been inspired to pursue myself.
      Yes, there are a number of agencies I think we could talk about partnering with, especially drug prevention agencies, and literacy providers. Definitely something I would seriously consider in the near future. Thank you for your excellent questions, as always 🙂

  2. mm John Woodward says:

    Liz, thanks for your important insights – and questions – from the reading this week. Your question of “Why is the dynamic and developing holistic gospel of Progressive Pentecostalism burgeoning in the Southern hemisphere, but not in Wales? ” is the same question I kept coming back to in my reading…not about Wales, but about the USA! As I state in my blog post, I am wondering if it is our “modern” sensibilities that keep us from accepting what is happening int he Global South, as it doesn’t fit our paradigm of how God works. But it may also be that we are blinded to the needs that are right around us. I think it is often easy for us in the comfortable parts of the world to think that real problems only exist elsewhere (real poverty, real famine, real epidemics are found in far away places) that we fail to see the brokenness of families, of drug and alcohol abuse, of gender and race issues in our own neighborhood. I think you are spot on with your idea of being more “holistic” in your church, by opening up a center…recognizing the suffering and hurt in your corner of the world and being of service to those who are close. (And if you open such a center, can I come and work for you? Sounds like a place I’d like to be.) I found this book refreshing as it both demonstrated how far I’ve come in my own thinking about how God works, and given me hope for a way forward for those of us in West who need a wakeup call! Great insights, Liz.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi John
      Yes, it was a really good book, wasn’t it? And yes, of course, you and Gwen are MOST welcome to move to Wales and serve, hee hee 🙂
      I do hear though of similar things happening in the US. Such as Bethel Church, Redding, CA (Bill Johnson) and Robby Dawkins in the Vineyard movement. I tend to read more american authors than British as the Church in the US is healthier than the church over this side of the Atlantic. At least, that’s the impression I get. America definitely has better resources and tools too. What are your thoughts on this? Would love to hear from an American perspective. Thank you John.

  3. Richard Volzke says:

    Liz,
    Your questions are compelling and difficult to answer. We know that God is in control. Yet, he allows man free will to serve Him or go his own way. In the end, God’s way will prevail. This doesn’t mean people won’t get hurt through the individual disobedience of people. I am reluctant to discount the entire Pentecostal movement, but I will say that I am weary of it. What I am learning to do (with God’s help) is to look at the intent of the individual and their work, not at the greater issues within a church or organization. This is difficult with regards to this movement, as I have personally seen quite a bit of harm that it has caused in the lives of individuals. Yet, from the author’s book there is quite a bit of good done as well. I don’t feel I have a good enough grasp after reading one book to make a totally informed judgment. The book made me more aware, so I can proactively watch the movement and formulate my opinions moving forward.
    Richard

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Richard
      Thank you for your feedback. I did like how the author differentiates between old Pentecostalism and the newer. What did you think about that?
      I guess whichever denomination one belongs to, one is not immune from witnessing negative things.
      Out of curiosity – what is your background? Are you Reformed, Charismatic, Baptist? Hope you don’t mind me asking 🙂

  4. mm Julie Dodge says:

    Great post, Liz –

    Here’s my two cents: we seem to all have our Pentecostal stories. And we’ve seen damage caused by some of the Pentecostal churches. I dated a man who love(d) God, but stopped going to church because he found himself falling into a rigid, judgmental world view. He didn’t like who he became at that church. And never went back. But I digress. I think the authors sell their work short by coining this “Global Pentecostalism.” What they are describing is definitely not Pentecostalism. Even their definition of what they are describing is not theologically Pentecostalism. They were trying to describe a movement of churches, of many denominations, that are engaging in a holistic theology that they believe is Spirit led. And then they called it Pentecostal because a lot of the churches are more charismatic. Big stumble on the part of the authors. That said, what they are describing is indeed inspiring. I have a very strong feeling that you can identify with knowing the call and voice of God and acting in response to that as demonstrated by your ministry and life over the past year. I think you might just be one of those people that the authors were trying to describe.

  5. mm rhbaker275 says:

    Hi, Liz,
    Great post … I really like the personal stirring and inspiration that you feel from reading the text. It’s true! “… From the exuberant worship, holistic gospel message, to the emphasis on healing and spiritual gifts…” This is an earnest desire driven by an insatiable hunger to know and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and worship. “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land” Psalm 143:6 (NIV).

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