The Future of Pentecostalism

by | Mar 31, 2006 | Blogs, The Strang Report

What will keep Pentecostalism from decaying into dead formalism?
One hundred years ago, at the time the Azusa Street Revival broke out in Los Angeles, a great revival was already in progress in Wales. Today there’s not much to show for the Welsh Revival—but by God’s grace Pentecostalism, the movement that was fueled by the revival at Azusa, has somewhere between 400 million and 600 million adherents around the world.


Why did one move of God continue and the other die? Let me share some thoughts after having covered the ongoing revival as a journalist (and participant) for more than three decades.


Most revivals fizzle quickly—unless they become institutionalized as Pentecostalism did. Early Pentecostal leaders in other nations spread the revival around the world and set up Bible colleges and seminaries to train new generations of leaders. By contrast the leaders in Wales—particularly Evan Roberts—withdrew from leadership in order to avoid stealing the glory from God.
The Pentecostal revival also reinvented itself and broadened, almost as the Protestant movement has done for nearly 500 years. In fact, historians are saying Pentecostalism is the third great segment of Christianity after Roman Catholicism/Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism.


Pentecostalism evolved into many denominations and then morphed into the charismatic movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Today it continues to grow, particularly among African-Americans and Hispanics in this country and in Third World settings. Several factors, including its spiritual intensity, its resolution to take the New Testament at face value, and its use of television and other forms of media to get out the message, have contributed to its growth—at least for the time being.


But what will keep Pentecostalism from decaying into dead formalism? And how will the tendency of some Pentecostal lone rangers to drift into doctrinal error, sexual sin or financial indiscretions affect it? Though there is a strong strain of holiness and righteousness undergirding the movement, rottenness has plagued it from the beginning. Which way will it go in the future?


At this centennial, as we praise God for the good that has come out of Pentecostalism, let’s also consider what more we could have done. In the last century, our nation has drifted steadily toward godlessness while Pentecostals were busy shouting in their churches.


Ask yourself: How many Pentecostals spoke out in the early days against communism? Against Nazism and the Holocaust? Against the proliferation of nuclear weapons? How many marched with African-Americans in support of civil rights?


Thankfully, more Pentecostals are making a difference today. Men such as pastor Jack Hayford and evangelist Reinhard Bonnke are raising the standard of godliness among Christian leaders. Attorneys such as Jay Sekulow are arguing important cases before the Supreme Court. Pastor John Hagee and others are speaking out against anti-Semitism, Rod Parsley is voicing concern about moral issues, and Spirit-filled leaders such as Keith Butler are getting involved in the process to change society.


If we believe that God has answers and that the power of the Holy Spirit can change institutions as well as lives, then in the next century we must not only speak out but also work to impact the culture.


One thing is certain: The Pentecostal/charismatic church will face enormous change, and we must participate with the work of the Holy Spirit if we want to experience unceasing revival.


We can do that first by praying, as Pope John XXIII did, for a “new Pentecost” and by being willing to embrace it when it comes. Second, we can exercise our faith to believe God will send His fire in answer to our prayers. Finally, we can avoid triumphalism—an attitude that makes us appear to others as if we think we have all the answers. This alienates believers and unbelievers alike.


According to my friend Mark Rutland, president of Southeastern University, “The key to Pentecostal power is brokenness.” If we want to see the movement not only continue but also receive fresh impetus from God, we must remain humble before Him.


Stephen Strang, the founder and publisher of Charisma, is a fourth-generation Pentecostal.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Young, old, rich or poor—nobody is immune to the feeling of brokenness. Jesus' life, death and resurrection on earth is a constant reminder that death no longer has a sting. Fear and hopelessness lurk throughout the earth trying to find an opportune moment to consume...

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Actor Kevin Sorbo is known today for his roles in faith-based movies, like "God's Not Dead" and "Left Behind," but the iconic "Hercules" star's Christian roots took form at an early age. Sorbo recently told CBN's "Faith vs. Culture" he first read the prophetic book of...

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

In this article, cessationism refers to the doctrine, practice or belief that the ascension ministry gifts and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit ceased with the early church and do not function in the present church age (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12: 4-11). The...

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

We all have the same amount of time—four hours a day, seven days a week. And the longer I live, the more I discover that time is too valuable for us to waste any of it. That’s why it is so important that we learn to live on purpose, for a purpose. The truth is if you...

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

This article was first released by Curt Landry Ministries. Note: This is the first of a two-part series of articles. When you enter heaven's courtroom to do spiritual warfare, you are asking that the will of God, what is written in His books, be released from heaven...

RECENT ARTICLES

The Spiritual Awakening of Buffalo, New York

Monday night, Jan. 2, 2023, God drew our nation to prayer as Bills player Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on live tv. Could this have been the largest spontaneous prayer meeting in the...
Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Read Time: 4 Minutes 43 Seconds Of the many artificial sweeteners out there, such as aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet’N Low) and neotame (NutraSweet), aspartame is one of the most common. How common? Aspartame is an ingredient in more...

Pin It on Pinterest