Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing?

49598In his Christianity Today article titled Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing, Ed Stetzer, a noted Christian researcher and missiologist, is not focusing on aberrant Pentecostal groups but what he terms “orthodox evangelical Pentecostals.”  Neither is he interested in debating Pentecostalism.  Rather, his focus is a sociological one, seeking to explore why these orthodox evangelical Pentecostals keep growing while other mainline denominations are in decline.

I’ve read Stetzer’s findings with keen interest, and I believe it all comes down to this:

Pentecostals believe in their approach. Their Christian walk has benefited, and they think everyone should have access. While others are figuring out what to do now to achieve growth, Pentecostals are focusing on who they are and are achieving growth.”

Then, he adds the following about declining denominations, “Most are mainline, a few are evangelical, but most simply are not as excited about what they believe—and don’t think it needs to be propagated as much—as the Pentecostals” (some non-Pentecostals are bound to object to this analysis–perhaps it’s the shortcoming of the approach used by Stetzer to anaylze the growth phenomenon).

Or perhaps there’s a greater explanation.  Stetzer mentions it in the second paragraph of the article: “Pentecostals will say they are growing because the Spirit is moving in a powerful way.”  Then Stetzer adds, “I get that, and actually would affirm that as part of the reason, but from a sociological perspective, other things are happening and worth exploring.”

Stetzer, it’s not part of the reason.  It is THE reason.  While I commend Stetzer’s sociological approach, I believe such an approach is really downplaying the powerful work of the Holy Spirit here.

But it’s worth noting that Stetzer mentions the growth of the Methodists during the Second Great Awakening, the Baptists in the 50s, and the Vineyard Church movement in the 1980s, which I believe is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now I submit the following: we need to pause for a moment and appreciate this historical tidbit to help us better understand what is going on here.  Or we can choose to become distracted by a preoccupation with how different Pentecostals are than us non-Pentecostals.

And miss the move of the sovereign Spirit–wherever he chooses (John 3:8).

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6 Responses to Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing?

  1. nwroadrat says:

    Being ‘welcoming’ and ‘friendly’ is often discounted by mainline denominations. Visit half or more, and you’re ignored.

  2. TC Robinson says:

    I see. I can’t argue with that. More of a management mentality vs a innovative and visionary one.

  3. theoldadam says:

    Sometimes we confuse “growth” with doing things right.

    At the end of his ministry, Jesus was left virtually alone.

    The Mormons are growing like crazy.

    I’m not saying that Pentecostals are not Christian, I do believe that they certainly are. But some of their methods and beliefs seem to be contrary to faith and much of them depend on your ‘feelings’ of being saved.

    That is totally opposite of what we preach, teach, and confess.

    Whenever someone remarks to our pastor about a particular church in our area growing by leaps and bounds, our pastor usually says, “I wonder what they are doing wrong.”

    • TC Robinson says:

      Steve, while I understand your call for discernment and the like, sometimes we’re on to simply rejoice at the wonderful things God is doing through his imperfect followers.

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