The rise of the Pentecostals

The pentacostal churches are on a steady rise in the US. They are the fastest growing denomination in the US.

  1. What makes them so popular?
  2. Are they phsycologicly and/or emotionally manipulative?
  3. Is God blessing these church’s and if so, why?

My in laws identify as Pentacostals. I’m sure God blesses them in the same way he does all his children who strive to please him, but I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable around my inlaws when they discuss religion. Hearing them talk, you won’t often hear about anything that isn’t about the holy spirit, talking in tongues, divine healing and the prosperity gospel.

As a group, Pentecostals can be very diverse. You will find some churches that are very conservative, orderly, and a lot like any other evangelical church. On the other hand you can find some very, ahem,* interesting* ones where they chant the same song for 30 min while marching in a circle around the room (I am not kidding).

When I was attending Pentecostal churches, I found they are in general, very friendly, and pretty good at keeping people attending - daycare, bus programs etc. The more enthusiastic churches can appeal to younger people who enjoy the style of music and the looser nature of their worship style.

On a side note, I remember laughing hysterically when in RCIA people were complaining that mass was too long at 1 hour - one Pentecostal church I attended for about 2 years, the service was typically 4 hours long!


Yeah some try really hard to pretend that they aren’t Pentecostal. :wink:

It’s called a Jericho march.

While Pentecostals can be found among all social classes, they have been known as a religion of the poor and many Pentecostal churches have been very adept at meeting the needs of the most marginalized in many societies. The kinetic worship style certainly appeals to young people, but also resinates on a deep level with many non-Western cultures.

Oh yeah. Today our church only has one Sunday morning service from 10:30 to sometime after 1:00. We used to have a Sunday night service too, so it was literally all day in church and a dinner break in between.

  1. Many things to different people. For some people, traditional or mainline churches can be very intimidating places. Some churches seem more like social clubs than churches. While there are more upwardly mobile Pentecostals today, there are still many Pentecostal churches that are characterized by being composed of people who have been marginalized in society. This means that many Pentecostal churches are able to relate people that wouldn’t be welcomed in some churches. I don’t mean that to be judgmental against other churches, but it is true. There are some people who come to our church because no other church wants them around.

God can speak to anyone. And just because someone is illiterate or uneducated or unrefined does not prevent God from using them. Many people find this lack of a glass ceiling in Pentecostalism attractive. There is a very fluid characteristic to Pentecostal ministry. No matter who you are, if God tells you to do something you do it. Whether you are “ordained” or not. God blesses obedience.

Today, many people are not looking for a propositional presentation of the gospel. They want to see something real. The Pentecostal belief and living out of the gospel through not only proclaiming the gospel but to live out the more miraculous dimensions of the gospel is seen as authentic to many people. And its not just the affirmation of the miraculous, but the democratization of it. The power of God can show up at any time in the life of any one. God can use me or you or any Christian as a vessel to work the miraculous if we have enough faith to yield ourselves to it. This democratization of the miraculous appeals to many people.

  1. I would say that there are psychologically and emotionally manipulative people who take advantage of the fluidity of Pentecostal ministry to infiltrate Pentecostal communities for their own advantage. There are also manipulative people in the Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal and other churches as well. It’s just that Pentecostalism’s emphasis on spiritual power and miracles gives manipulative people opportunities to manipulate people in interesting and creative ways that they might not be able to in other churches. Also, the lack of accountability within the very large unorganized Pentecostal movement makes it a breeding ground for this kind of stuff.

  2. God is blessing them. They are the fasting growing type of churches in the world right now. Counting charismatic Catholics, a quarter of the world’s Christians are Pentecostal or charismatic. God is definitely blessing them with growth.

P.S. I forgot to add above that another thing that some people are attracted to is the spontaneity. We don’t have to adhere to a proscribed schedule. If the Holy Spirit wants to minister to people one Sunday instead of letting the preacher preach then the preacher wont preach. The Spirit will use the members of the congregation to minister to one another through prayer during the service. If he wants someone to give a prophetic message or a message in tongues then he will direct people to do that and if the church is truly listening to the Spirit then they will let him speak in whatever way he wants to.

Well, just so you know the prosperity gospel is a relatively recent doctrinal development within Pentecostalism. It is very popular right now, but there are many Pentecostals who are concerned about it, me included. There are others who accept certain prosperity teachings to a point but reject the more radical, outlandish and manipulative teachings. And then there are others who sadly buy into it completely.

My prayer is that the prosperity gospel looses steam soon. I see it having such a detrimental effect on Pentecostalism, which was a religion that originally emphasized a more ascetical and less consumeristic spirituality.

My brother converted to Pentecostal.

He and his wife are two of the best Christians I know. They are active in feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Their faith and church mean everything to them. And, they are not “preachy”. They will answer questions about their faith without lecturing or trying to convert.

Not sure why Catholicism didn’t work for my brother. I’m just grateful he’s found God and truly changed his life.

Just thought I’d share what I know about Pentecostals.

I’m not too big on the prosperity gopel; that, or I’m not keen on my mother in laws version. She’s very into the name it and claim it, and believes any 'good" Christian should be perfectly healthy and die without any health issues, ever.

On the other hand, I have a cousin who’s Pentecostal, and she’s really…normal. Not to say that Pentecostals are odd in and of themselves, but she’s just a pretty calm, Jesus-loving Christian.

My husband doesn’t identify exclusively as Pentecostal, but I’ve been to a couple bible studies at that church with him. Some people were sooo nice, and very kind, very welcoming, and others were a little harsh…so like any other church I suppose XD just not my cup of tea.

My aunty is an evangelical pentacostal. The way she speaks about the pope and Our Lady makes me cry. I personally cannot stand being around her when she starts talking about the Bible and how the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon. I don’t know if God really has blessed this church, because some of them say some really horrifying and mean things about the Bride of Christ.

My inlaws have recently converted to The Pentecostal movement in our small town. A few years ago, in our small town of about 3000 a pastor moved here and started a church and within 3 years he built the biggest church in the area and now has a congregation of maybe 1000! The other churches in the area are seeing drops in their attendance as people are flocking to His message of wealth and happiness. They seem to do good works of charity and all but there a some negative points that I’ve noticed. The methods in which they “heal” people seem to harness public peer pressure. They preach often about tithing and how God will bless you for blessing the church. Needless to say the preacher seems to be doing well for himself. My mother and father inlaw are tithing and claim they haven’t gone without and that that’s a miracle, even though they never went without before…
A newly converted girl I know has been going to the bible study each week and was conversing with my sister and didn’t know she was catholic, she went in to say a few anti catholic remarks that the preacher had taught them in the bible study. :frowning:
My mother in law has always been an emotional wreck and now that she is going to this church she crys at almost every service, she claims this to be the power of the pastors message. They all seem to promote their pastor more then Jesus and the gospel message. They advertise like crazy and everyone wears their shirts around town. They keep trying to get me to “come see” what goes on and they give me CD’s of the pastors sermons. So i listen and when I debate about the pastors message with them they seem to believe his interpritation of scripture with little regaurd to the context of the passage itself. When I told my father inlaw that their pastor interprits scripture he said “no he doesn’t, he preaches the bible straight” I was kind of shocked that anyone would believe that, considering he uses one line verses in Isaiah to say things that mean nothing even close to what they mean in the context of the whole passage.

That’s a 2-way street brother. We can’t judge the more from the few. We, more than anyone else, should now that.

I feel I can provide a good answer, being that I was raised Pentecostal.

  1. They have very vocal and physically expressive form of worship. Many people find an outlet with that opposed to your typical more conservative means of worship. They’re also very emotional and share that with each other within the church.

  2. See my answer above. To answer the question as to “are they manipulative” in the bad sense…I would say no. At least not the good Pentecostals. However with anything, I’m sure someone could take advantage of manipulating someone through worship.

  3. Yes! I assume God is happy with anyone who decides to believe in and worship him.

My decision on leaving the faith was not based on that it was bad, manipulative or anything like that. Sme of the most greatest, loving, caring, good hearted, faith filled Christians I ever met were in the Pentecostal church. My decision to leave was based on a number of other factors and what I feel God lead me too.

Hope this helps…

You guysmight think i am crazy but i live in baton rouge area and if any of you know bout jimmy swaggert he has been buying up radio stations all over the u.s. and over seas with the economy tanking. He is even on sattelite t.v. and is getting his pentecostal message out big time and i believe this has helped the pentecostal movement big time.

Around here he’s old news. None of the Pentecostal Churches I attended referenced him or taught any of his stuff. :shrug:

May be so but from what i have seen you would be surprised at the impact he and his preachers are actually is not so much that he or his name but his message going out from so many areas and so many ways . I personally do not like him or agree with him but he is on a roll again.

My husband and I are converts (8 years now) from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism.

My husband grew up in the Assemblies of God, and several of his family members are still involved with this church.

I can’t speak for the other denominations of Pentecostalism, but the Assembles of God, along with many other evangelical non-Pentecostal denominations, encompasses a person’s entire life.

A person who attends the large AG church in our city can literally spend every waking moment, and even the sleeping moments, from birth to death, immersed in their church!

There is a huge thriving daycare which is very affordable because many of the employees consider this part of their ministry and service to God. There is a school that begins at age three and goes all the way through high school, and it is a darn good school with high achievers in academics, athletics, and arts. There is a college on the church campus. Children can attend Sunday school and various clubs from a very young age all the way to middle school. At middle school, the child begins attending the huge and very exciting youth group, which has something going on almost every night. Once the child grows up, they can get married, have children, and remain incredibly active in many different ministries in the church. Or they can seek and find employment at this church–there are a lot of jobs available with such a huge campus, including working in the very nice coffee shop! And of course, this continues all the way through old age, when they can move into the beautiful retirement center and eventually the nursing home on the church campus.

The only thing the church DOESN’T have on their campus is a cemetery!

For the people at the AG church, many of them have all of their friends through the church, and almost all their social activities take place with these friends, and often these social activities are done at the church campus.

Sound fun? It is fun. I have to admit that just yesterday, I was driving by my Catholic parish and thinking, “Wow, I never do anything with anyone in my parish, and other than going to Mass and practicing the organ, I really am not that involved with the parish at all.”

Yes, the ministries and social activities are available in our parish, but it seems to me that Catholics don’t feel any kind of obligation or desire to get involved on a constant basis, and they certainly don’t live their entire lives in and around their church and with church friends. This is a very different mindset than the typical Pentecostal or Evangelical Protestant, who is thrilled to be part of the fellowship in their church.

In fact, “fellowship” is one of the main reasons people are Protestant, and “lack of fellowship” is one of the main reasons people leave Catholic churches.

Now I’m not just talking about socials and banquets–I’m talking about an “immersing” of your entire life in the life of the church and being involved with a large number of the church members and attendees on a regular, often daily basis. THAT’s life in the Pentecostal and Evangelical churches.

I hope I am explaining this adequately. Unless you have lived it, it’s kind of hard to understand the appeal. It’s really very nice.

I play the piano for various church events, especially Masses, and my husband is an usher. That’s pretty much it–we do our little part and that’s all. No “Super Catholic” or hyper-involvement like we had in the evangelical Protestant church–back then, we were involved in our church 5-6 days/evenings a week, and did very little outside of the church (until we started getting involved with figure skating).

I think a lot of people are looking for a true “community” to be part of. I know that conservative and traditional Catholics often scoff at the idea of the “community” model of parish life. But it really is very very nice and satisfying and fulfilling to have a whole ton of friends that you see several times a week, and several very enjoyable ministries in the church that keep you busy and active. I really miss that, and I think it’s one of the big reasons why so many people are drawn to the Pentecostal churches and the various Evangelical churches, especially the non-denoms. It’s a great big life that feels good and lifts up your soul.

Grew up Pentecostal never even knowing who or hearing any teaching/preaching of Jimmy Swagart. So seems to me that you just don’t like Jimmy Swagart (which is fine). But your point is irrelevant to the OP’s topic. You can’t consider a whole religious faith based on one preacher’s sermon or teaching. At least not in this topic.

I don’t question why my brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal church worship in the way they do but I accept it. God be with you.

Thanks for your post Mgray82. I too grew up Pentecostal never hearing anything about Jimmy Swaggert accept the fact that his ministry imploded due to scandal. I know that he has attempted to restore his image and ministry lately. Beyond that, I do not hear much about him. I certainly don’t agree with statements he’s made about Roman Catholicism or contemporary Christian music. Frankly, I would say that most Pentecostals these days are just beyond anti-Catholicism or any kind of inflammatory speech against other Christians. My pastor in his Pentecost Sunday sermon made the remark that “Pentecost” is not a denomination. God is not limited by our denominations, whether they be Pentecostal or Baptist or Catholic. I think many Pentecostals feel that way today.

The op was wondering what factors may be causing the rise of the pentecostals so my comments concerning swaggert were very much on topic. Also i never said your religion is based off of his theology. I was making the point that he is having a major impact on a lot of pentecostal churches maybe not yours but a lot of others but i wont waste anymore time talking about this guy aparantly it is an old wound still to many.

I noticed a lot less Catholic bashing as a Pentecostal than when I was a Baptist (Though not saying all Baptists are that way either, just my personal experience). Most of my Pentecostal friends were okay with me becoming Catholic. Basically the response was “You need to go where God is leading you. I’m glad you find yourself closer to God.”

More of a non-issue really than a wound.

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