DMINLGP

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

Waves of the Holy Spirit

Written by: on December 28, 2018

Bebbington’s Evangelicalism in Modern Britain took me back to my own faith experiences which began in the mid-‘70s. I was particularly drawn to chapter 7 which dealt with the charismatic movement. While my dad grew up in the culturally Catholic state of Bavaria Germany, my mom grew up in a southern Primitive Baptist environment heavily influenced by her favorite paternal aunt who was United Pentecostal (oneness or modalism in relation to the Godhead). This combination along with dad’s WWII PTSD rage issues made for a culturally and religiously divisive family of origin environment. Eventually, I landed in the Assemblies of God (AoG) in 1975 and soon felt called to be a pastor. During the late-‘70s and ‘80s, I pursued ordination and eventually became a pastor of a local AoG church. The following reflections are from this context of being a local pastor within that Pentecostal denomination.

The Assemblies were formed out of the Pentecostal revival of Azusa Street in 1914.[1] This move of the Holy Spirit has been called the First Wave of the Holy Spirit. Similar to the Restorationism movement, there was a strong tone of anti-denominationalism[2] among the AoG which therefore chose to call itself a fellowship rather than a denomination. Also, similar to the Restorationism movement, it was formed to be a home for the disaffected pastors, missionaries, and congregants who were no longer welcome within their former church affiliations.[3] As a local pastor during the ‘80s and ‘90s, these feelings and sentiments were still very much alive and well among AoG clergy.

While I am unsure of the scope and scale of British Pentecostalism in place at the onset of the Charismatic renewal, the AoG certainly viewed themselves as the largest global Pentecostal denomination and perhaps, therefore, the gatekeepers of the classical Pentecostal tenets. I can see from our subject source why the AoG was reticent and even distanced itself from engaging with and openly supporting the “new” Charismatic renewal. This move of the Holy Spirit has been called the Second Wave of the Holy Spirit. First, within Pentecostal worship practices, there has always been the temptation to emphasize dramatic experiences (or exciting testimonies) over Scripture. The Charismatic renewal as a fledgling movement typically included many excessive worship expressions. Second, coupled with the alleged (from the AoG perspective) doctrinal errors of more liberal denominations and even Roman Catholics, Pentecostals found affirmation to be an untenable position. Third, Pentecostal experiences in the early twentieth century formerly led pastors and congregants to leave their former affiliations (as in Restorationism) and join or form Pentecostal fellowships. However, congregants and ministers during the Charismatic renewal often stayed within former affiliations and instead influenced their respective locales with their newfound worship expressions. Perhaps pridefully, Pentecostals could neither understand nor reconcile how Charismatics who enjoyed the same worship expressions (e.g., speaking in tongues) would choose to stay within their former affiliations instead of joining classing Pentecostal associations. Bebbington states, “For all its legacy from Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement had different cultural affinities.”[4]

Our source mentions the Vineyard movement leader John Wimber and the impact of his visits to England and Scotland in the mid-‘80s. His empowered evangelical approach gave a fresh impetus to the charismatic cause in Britain. Bebbington states, “Repeatedly the new world was called in to bring vision to the old.”[5] From my faith journey, I had to work through many questions and constructs as I felt drawn to leave the AoG and move towards the Vineyard movement in the early 2000s. While I never met John, the legacy of his “Doin’ the Stuff” leadership style lives on in today’s global Vineyard movement. Ed Stetzer explains how John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement were catalysts for what became known as the Third Wave of the Holy Spirit.[6] For Britain and the rest of the world, I wonder how the next wave will express itself? I wonder what my role will be in its unfolding story?

My takeaway from my selected reading of this source is the amazing ways our faith journeys, stories, and histories are tied together. Currently, I am assisting the coaching network within the Vineyard movement serving the UK and Ireland. I am planning to meet with this team of coaches (in person for the first time) at their annual planning retreat immediately before our London/Oxford advance. I joy in playing a small role in the unfolding of the ongoing story of evangelicalism in modern Britain.

[1]The History of the Assemblies of God, accessed December 27, 2018, https://ag.org/About/About-the-AG/History,

[2] Bebbington, D. W., Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, rev. ed. (New York, NY: Routledge, 1989), 230.

[3] Ibid

[4] Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, 231-232.

[5] Ibid

[6]Ed Stetzer, “The Third Wave: The Continualist Movement Continues,” Christianity Today (October 23, 2013), accessed December 28, 2018,  https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/october/third-wave.html.

About the Author

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Harry Fritzenschaft

Harry is the Pastor of Business Administration for the Vineyard Church of Houston and the Coordinator of Coaching for Multiply Vineyard (the church planting resource arm for Vineyard USA). He is also pursuing a DMin in Leadership and Global Perspective with a focus on coaching networks. Harry has been married to Gloria for over forty years and has two grown children; Michelle who is married to Brandon and has two sons (Caleb and Judah), and Mark who is in a relationship with Cannus. He loves making friends from different perspectives, watching college football with Mark, and helping ministry leaders (especially church planters and pastors) accomplish their goals in fulfilling their call.

5 responses to “Waves of the Holy Spirit”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hey Harry. Great personal reflection on your selection of Bebbington. Of all the books we’ve read, this one has reached in to each of our pasts for different reasons. I met John Wimber (name dropping! Yes, I’m almost famous in my own mind) in the 80’s when he came to New Zealand. I think he was a breath of healing balm in the UK and the Antipodes between the Pentecostals and Charismatics. His style, personal self afacing manner and open minded way of experiencing and teaching the work of the Spirit endeared him to the more reserved members on the planet (he was very different from all those other brash yanks). As we age and reflect on the humanity of our Christian experience we do mellow in the long experience of Gods grace towards us despite the angst and passion of our early years. They formed us, but we learn that they don’t define us anymore, and so we begin to relax in the knowledge that we are all a bit rediculous, but in Gods providential and sovereign Kingdom we are still his children on whom he bestows fabulous gifts of love.

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      Digby,
      I always appreciate your insightful and lucid thoughts. Wow, you met John Wimber! I am so thankful that your experience was a breath of fresh air for you and the rest of the Antipodes (I am always so appreciative to you for teaching me new words!) For me, you are so correct about mellowing and relaxing to appreciate that God’s Kingdom is much bigger and his grace is much more lavish than my wildest imagination. Thank you for reminding me of this and I so appreciate your perspective during this doctoral adventure.

  2. mm Jenn Burnett says:

    Thank you for your humble perspective Harry! It warms my heart to think of any movement collecting the outcasts in their own tradition as I both feel called to those on the fringes and often find myself most at home there. While having never been officially in the Vineyard movement, my United Church pastor in University was a huge fan of John Wimber and I learned a lot about ‘doing the stuff’ from him. I love too that it was later in your career that you made a move to the Vineyard. Perhaps as you meet with the global strategists, you will notice a spot that is a better fit for post-graduate me 🙂 As Digby has reflected, I feel I’m beginning the shift from the angst of ‘my early years’ and have perhaps become soft enough to be transplanted. I say that, but if you could find me a mission field that has rugby as a popular past time so I could have a side ministry of teaching young people to smash each other, I’d be much obliged. Thank you again for your vulnerable, reflective post.

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      Jenn,
      You are an amazing pastoral leader and I so treasure God’s words through you. Yes, perhaps we are all becoming softer and more pliable in our Triune God’s hands so we can learn and grow into his intentions instead of ours. I will continually be on the lookout for missional pastoral opportunities that are coupled with rugby applications, Dear Friend!

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