Saturday, 9 June 2012
HISTORY OF PENTECOSTAL MISSIONS
2. Pentecostalism: A Missionary Movement
3.2 Growth in South India: Tamil Nadu and Kerala
3.3 North East India (NEI)
5.4 Melvin Hodges’ Indigenous Policy
6.6 Warfare Language
Azusa Street in Los Angeles generally is regarded the birthplace of the modern Pentecostal movement, and the black Holiness preacher William Seymour its founder, a thesis which may however be challenged. The largest black Pentecostal denomination in the world, the Church of God in Christ, historically preceded the 1906 Azusa Street revival. Juan Sepulveda sees Pentecostal growth in Latin America “as the emergence of an indigenous Christianity”
1 Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Erdmann, 1997), p. 298.
And notes that Chilean Pentecostalism had no connections with Azusa Street. Chilean Pentecostalism are seen as a local incarnation of the gospel different from the classical Pentecostalism of other cultures.
In India, likewise, even prior to the Azusa Street revival, Pentecostal phenomena were reported both in South India and in Maharashtra.
In a report on one hundred years of Pentecostal missions, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen notes, “The significance of Pentecostal/Charismatic missions has escaped the notice of missiologists.” That is similar to my own observation. In the 1960s in Italy, the Pentecostals were largely overlooked by other evangelicals. Yet they had grown to become larger than the Waldensians and all other historical Protestant denominations combined. Membership in the Assemblies of God in 1969 stood at 120,000, whereas all non-Pentecostal Protestants totaled about 55,000.9 Lessons were there to be learned, but were missed by other missions:
The Assemblies of God is an Italian church, run by Italians in an Italian way.... It is “national” and not “missionary” in orientation. Its American missionaries work under the Italian church—an arrangement sometimes difficult for the missionary, but apparently beneficial to the church.
Other missionaries tended to present the gospel in foreign dress, whereas the Pentecostals responded with local cultural distinctive. Pentecostals offered a meaningful alternative to the people of post-war disrupted Italy. Reasons for Pentecostal growth, in contrast to other groups as observed in that country, include: 1) an Italian identity, 2) a distinctive identity not as Protestants but as Evangelista (evangelists), 3) aggressive witnessing by the laity, 4) family house churches, 5) a few large churches which attract growth, 6) the presence of the Holy Spirit communicated in a dynamic community, 7) spiritual experience, and 8) simplicity of doctrine.
The Italian experience of the past century has affinity to what has transpired in other parts of the world. David Barrett has shown us that at the start of the twenty-first century, Pentecostals and Charismatic’s constitute the second largest body of Christians in the world, exceeded only by the Roman Catholics in size.12 The rapid growth and impact of Pentecostalism in the last century caused Harvey Cox to modify his secularization thesis, because Pentecostalism proves that something noteworthy is happening in the world of religion.13 Allan Anderson and others have demonstrated the reality of Pentecostalism as a global phenomenon among the poor.14 Grant Wacker, however, argues that the first generation of American Pentecostal converts were not necessarily from the poorest and marginal sections but represented a cross-section of American lower-middle and middle
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, “One Hundred Years of Pentecostal Missions: A Report on the European Pentecostal/Charismatic Research Association’s 1999 Meeting,” Mission Studies 16:1-2 (2000), pp. 207-16 (207).
Classes. Leaders likewise included persons of social, financial and educational prominence. The story is one of “men and women of modest birth who proved resourceful, hard working, fired by ideals and, above all, determined to get the job done.” It is not surprising, then, that Pentecostalism flourished. This is because Pentecostalism was and is a missionary movement.
In a recent study, Waldo César (of Brazil) speaks of modern Pentecostalism as “a religious phenomenon” which takes its originality from the Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Acts 1:13-14; 2:2). With signs reappearing at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in the early 1900s, a movement began which spread to Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America within the same decade. “The historic and symbolic efficacy of Pentecost has been reproduced in the twentieth century.” Initially subjected to ridicule or rejected as sectarian, “the existing churches underestimated this new form of Protestantism.” In its essence, Pentecostalism always was a missionary movement. In Brazil, for example, by the 1930s, nearly 10 percent of the Protestants had converted to Pentecostalism. In the 1990s, the Assemblies of God in Brazil converted half a million members in one year; the Christian Congregation of Brazil baptized 100,000 converts in one year; and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God built a cathedral to seat 20,000 worshippers in Rio de Janeiro. “In global terms, in the Third World alone, Pentecostals must amount to over 150 million individuals.” The significant global expansion of Pentecostalism “demonstrates the inversion of traditional missionary activity, from the Third World to the developed countries of Europe and North America.”
To the north of India, in Nepal, where Christianity has been growing rapidly during the last three decades, the Christian movement from its inception is said to have a Pentecostal character. Even before Nepal opened its doors in 1951, Pentecostal missionaries in India were active on the Nepal border. Some of the converts were trained at the North India Bible Institute of the Assemblies of God at Hardoi. In Nepal converts were exposed to Pentecostal teaching. Besides the Assemblies of God, the Agape Fellowship and many independent churches are Pentecostal or Charismatic.
3. Roots of Pentecostalism in India
According to various authorities, Pentecostalism in India has its roots in Maharashtra at the Ramabai Mukti Mission, Kedgaon. In 1897 Pandita Ramabai invited Minnie Abrams, a Methodist missionary from America, to minister at Kedgaon.23 In 1905 a spiritual revival at Mukti was to reverberate far beyond Kedgaon. a first-hand account
Bal Krishna Sharma, “A History of the Pentecostal Movement in Nepal,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 4:2 (July 2001), pp. 295-305.
By Minnie Abrams describes the weeping and praying of the repentant Mukti girls as well as the dramatic manifestations which accompanied the new “baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire.” Preaching bands from Mukti volunteered to spread the gospel in the surrounding villages. The message of Pentecost made its way to other parts of India. Healings, speaking in tongues, prophecy and other “gifts of the Spirit” were in vogue.
J. Edwin Orr documents the spread of the revival as the Mukti bands carried the message throughout the Maratha country. Characterized by emotional phenomena, the impact of the awakening was long-lasting in terms of conversions and changed lives. The spiritual movement spread across various denominations, e.g. Alliance, Anglican, Baptist, Friends, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. At Mukti, Ramabai channeled the enthusiasm of the believing community into famine relief work as well as social rehabilitation. The spiritual awakening had an enduring influence in Maharashtrian society.
3.2 Growth in South India: Tamil Nadu and Kerala
There were also, however, earlier precedents in South India both in Tamil Nadu and in Kerala. Historian Gary McGee states that “the most prominent revivals of the nineteenth century characterized by the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit occurred in India.” Pentecostalism in South Asia, then, is significantly indigenous in origin. “The Pentecostal movement that created ripples in South India began as an indigenous movement. It was not until later those revival movements in the West impacted this indigenous movement.” In 1860 in Tirunelveli, under Church Mission Society (CMS) catechist John Christian Aroolappen, a revival took place with Pentecostal signs including prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues, dreams, visions, and intense conviction of sin. A decade later, a similar revival was brought to Kerala (Travancore) by Aroolappen. These and other antecedents prepared the ground for the twentieth-century Pentecostal movement in India.
3.3 North East India (NEI)
Pentecostalism in NEI is rooted in the Evangelical Christianity introduced by missionaries from Wales. Several waves of the Welsh Revival influenced the developing leadership of the NEI churches. A 1904 revival in Wales appears to have been carried to NEI in 1905 where the revival movement in the Presbyterian Church had “several elements of Pentecostal expression,” including “praying at the top of their voices, singing, dancing, trembling and being slain in the Spirit.”33 Other precedents are found in the indigenous Christian movements of the region including the formation of the indigenous Church of God in 1902, which at a later point experienced speaking in tongues (and a subsequent division).34
Full expressions of Pentecostal Christianity in NEI came with the formation of new Pentecostal fellowships and denominations. In
Gary B. McGee, “India: Pentecostal and Pentecostal-like Movements (1860-1910)” (an unpublished article, c.1999), cited in A. C. George, “Pentecostal Beginnings in Travancore, South India,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 4:2 (2001), pp. 215-37 (220).
George, “Pentecostal Beginnings in Travancore, South India,” p. 220.
Meghalaya in 1932, the indigenous Church of Jesus Christ—Full Gospel came into existence, followed by other Pentecostal groups from outside the region. In Mizoram, revival produced a number of independent churches of Pentecostal character in 1913, 1932, 1942, 1947, 1965 and 1971.36 In Manipur, a 1917 revival associated with Watkins R. Roberts prepared the ground for Pentecostal growth, including the United Pentecostal Church, the Revival Church of God, the Christian Revival Church and others. Revival in Nagaland in the 1940s and 1950s led to the formation of the Nagaland Christian Revival Church in 1962, followed by the introduction of the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission, the Assemblies of God and other missions from outside the region.
Most of the Pentecostal churches of NEI have roots in the revivals in the Presbyterian and other churches of NEI.
Among early Pentecostal missionaries in India were several from the 1908 Azusa Street Mission revival. These included George Berg and Robert F. Cook, pioneer missionaries whose evangelistic work laid the foundations for the beginnings of the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Southern India. Cook, who began as an independent missionary, for a while joined the Assemblies of God, then separated and affiliated to the Church of God (Cleveland), attracted a group of committed local preachers who were to become significant Pentecostal leaders.
Missionaries and local workers of the Assemblies of God and the Church of God were to lay the foundation, not only for these two denominations, but also for the subsequent emergence of numerous new indigenous Pentecostal fellowships and movements in India and beyond. The principles and procedures followed were conducive to the formation and growth of new Christian movements, as we shall see.
4. Indigenous Pentecostals:
One of the local preachers who served with Robert Cook was K. E. Abraham who became founder of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God, a major indigenous Pentecostal denomination from which have sprung numbers of other independent movements. IPC is the largest indigenous Pentecostal movement in India and continues to grow at the rate of one new church per week. In 1997, there were more than 3000 local churches in India including 1700 in Kerala, 700 in Andhra, 210 in Tamil Nadu, 70 in Karnataka, and smaller numbers in other states in North India and the North East. The IPC is an important expression of Christian nationalism in India prior to India’s Independence. K. E. Abraham believed that ministry could progress better without foreign missionary domination, viz., self-supporting churches should be led by self-
Snaitang, “The Indigenous Pentecostal Movement,” p. 7.
Sacrificing national ministers; leadership should be in the hands of local Christians; local churches should manage their own affairs and hold their own property as independent Christian churches in an independent India. The IPC thus challenged the Assemblies of God and the Church of God, which were of missionary origins in India.
From these origins have emerged numerous Pentecostal movements. One example is the Sharon Fellowship Church (SFC) and its institutions based at Thiruvalla, begun by P. J. Thomas after he separated from the begun by P. J. Thomas after he separated from the IPC in 1953. Today SFC has more than 90,000 members and 450 congregations in Kerala and 350 outside Kerala In Central India, the Pentecostal Church at Itarsi sponsors the Central India Bible College, founded in 1962 by Kurien Thomas, directed today by Matthew Thomas. The related Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches of God in India, established in 1966, reports more than 500 workers in 13 fields of service throughout North and South India. This Fellowship is an example of one of the many ministries to have emerged from the IPC these are but a few of the many Pentecostal denominations in India. The first major scholarly study of South Indian Pentecostalism42 touches the history of all known Pentecostal bodies in South India including those of indigenous origins as well as those of international (foreign missionary) extraction. Bergunder lists a total of 71 Pentecostal bodies in the four southern states.
The origins of Pentecostalism in Sri Lanka are closely related to developments in India. The earliest Pentecostal missionaries were not related to any denomination but served as independent Christian workers. The most prominent among them was a woman, Anna Lewini, from Denmark who first arrived in Colombo in 1919, returned to Denmark in 1920, then came again to Sri Lanka where she remained for more than three decades. In 1922, she rented a hall a Borella which became the first assembly of Pentecostal Christians in Sri Lanka known as Glad Tidings Hall. In 1927, the name was changed to Colombo Gospel Tabernacle.
How, then, to evaluate the Pentecostal missions thrust? Many facets intersect, yet two major streams of influence can be detected. One is the influence of Scandinavian Pentecostalism; the other is the indigenous church growth principles of Melvin Hodges. Pentecostal contribution to the contemporary indigenous missionary movement is a further development derived from this background.
From Scandinavia, the Pentecostal missionary movement gained a principle of ecclesiastical freedom, which maximizes the role of the local laity. A movement of the Spirit should not be controlled by ecclesiastical structures or hierarchy. Scandinavian Pentecostalism is marked by a
Martin, “A Brief History of the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission.”
Strong congregational ecclesiology. Missionary societies from the Scandinavian Free Pentecostal churches served to facilitate the sending of missionaries from local churches, but maintained minimal control over the missionaries.
From Oslo, former Methodist missionary Thomas Ball Barratt, now a leader of the Pentecostal movement, was influenced by the self-supporting “Pauline missions” theory of dissident Methodist missionary bishop, William Taylor. Taylor had planted Methodist churches in India, Latin America and Africa.
From his reading of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Taylor derived what he considered a divinely inspired methodology for mission work. The “Pauline method” was to evangelize, to establish churches, and to form an effective pastorate from among the converts. Any supervision by missionaries was to be as short as possible. The converts themselves will “support and extend” the church, which is to be self-governing from the beginning. These churches are to be the equal of any churches anywhere in the world. this was the method Taylor had followed to begin Methodist churches in the cities of India.
Barratt implemented Taylor’s mission theory in Norway, and from the Central Filadelfia Church in Oslo spread the innovative tradition far beyond. Outside Norway, Barratt, more than any other figure in the early period of Pentecostalism, was responsible for the beginnings of new movements throughout Europe, India and Latin America. His radical insistence on the “three self” theory of Taylor allowed Pentecostalism to be flexible, entrepreneurial and ready to accept the leadership of the new converts as equal to that of the founders. He, unlike the American Pentecostal and Wesleyan/Holiness denominations, adopted a thorough congregationalism, which cooperated for mission, evangelism and publication, but refused to establish a bureaucracy or to allow intervention in the congregations. This has become the ecclesiology and missiology of most of global Pentecostalism
The global Pentecostal advance was characterized by innovation. Missionaries were essentially new church initiators but not superintendents of churches. Newly begun Pentecostal churches were neither appendages of a foreign mission nor under the patronage of missionaries—at least in principle, but not without exception! Human failure notwithstanding, the Scandinavian model was good for producing a sense of local autonomy and maturity with reciprocal responsibility for mission. A two-way flow of missionary personnel and resources (from South and East to North and West) seems to reflect this ideal. The emergence of Methodist Pentecostalism in Chile is directly related to the experience and work of Willis Hoover, influenced by William Taylor, and buttressed, no doubt, by Barratt and the example of Norway the commonalities between the Norwegian and the Chilean experiences are striking. Both Barratt and Hoover had experience in the Wesleyan/Holiness branch of Methodism and had accepted William
Bundy, “Unintended Consequences,” p. 219.
5.4 Melvin Hodges’ Indigenous Policy
The impact of the well-known Pentecostal missiologists, Melvin Hodges, is particularly evident in the missionary policies of the Assemblies of God. The goal, said Hodges, is a national church which will have roots of its own and not be dependent upon foreign resources. Such a church will be self-propagating, self-supporting and self-governing. Church government is to include an adequate national fellowship, which will facilitate unity and cooperation and provide correction as needed for the local congregations.
At the heart of Hodges’ missiology was a strong ecclesiology. “A weak theology of the Church will produce a weak sense of mission.” Hodges might have been influenced by Roland Allen whose writings are mentioned along with others in Hodges’ bibliography, but his principles are derived from his missionary experience in Latin America and from his study of the New Testament. The gifts of the Spirit are for carrying out the ministry of the church, yet the fruit of the Spirit takes precedence over spiritual gifts, because God desires to develop our Christian character which is essential for Christian witness. The mission of the church is to persuade people “to turn from darkness to light and from empty forms of religion to the vital power of God’s salvation.” Anything which hinders this objective or impedes the development of the church must be sacrificed. Hodges mandated the redistribution of missionaries in order to encourage development of national workers. To fulfill the mission objective the chief missionary activity must be church planting, which is to be carried out by missionaries, pastors, evangelists and laypersons. The church, wherever it is located, by prayer and other means, is to create a climate for church growth. This begins by being the kind of persons “through whom the Holy Spirit can create the life and climate of the New Testament Church.
The biblical theology of mission and the missionary principles of Melvin Hodges resulted in associations of churches under local leadership with a keen sense of mission. The Pentecostal movement worldwide has been characterized by love for the Bible and zeal for evangelism.
Despite some problems of missionary paternalism and dependency, the three-self “indigenous principles” policy of the Assemblies of God seems to have facilitated the development of indigenous Pentecostal leadership. Creation of regional Bible schools was an important aspect of Pentecostal strategy. Bethel Bible Institute at Punalur is the oldest existing Bible school of the Assemblies of God outside of North America. Without a doubt, these Bible colleges have been a catalyst in training leaders many of whom in turn have fostered indigenous Pentecostal movements in Kerala. The role of the Bible school, combined with the implementation of the indigenous policy, produced a formula for Pentecostal expansion in and beyond Kerala.
Zarephath Bible College (Thrissur), WME Bible College, Kariamplave, Bethlehem Christian Educational Centre, Karuvatta, Bersheba Christian Bible School (Kottarakkara), India Christian Fellowship Foundation Bible School (Renny), Everyone Crusade Misionary Bible Institute (Ezhamkulam), Malabar Bersheba Bible College (Kozhikode), Bersheba Bible College (Mavelikkara),.
The Pentecostal movement in some quarters is marked by division. Kerala, for example, has a number of denominations bearing the Church of God label, each existing in separate isolation. One at least, the Church of God (Division), is the result of separation on caste lines. Other bifurcations are over leaders and personality clashes. The SFC is an outcome of a leadership exodus from the IPC. Institutions such as Bible colleges have emerged around personalities, creating factions within existing bodies as well as spinning off to form new denominations.
These multiplied and growing groups exhibit something of the vitality of Pentecostalism. Nevertheless, this fissiparous tendency also is counter-productive for Christian witness in a complex society seeking unity in the midst of diversity. A tendency for divisive exclusiveness on the part of some Pentecostal groups is an impediment to united witness. This was painfully illustrated in the division created by John C. Douglas and the World Missionary Evangelism mission in Andhra Pradesh.
Almost all of the Indian Pentecostal Church leaders joined the service of Mr. Douglas. That was the beginning of the World Missionary Evangelism mission in India. What happened to missionary, ministerial, and pastoral ethics? Many IPC pastors changed their signboards from IPC to the WME mission. But they remained still on IPC property, lands and buildings, which were purchased and registered by and in the name of the Indian Pentecostal Church. These are now occupied by the WME mission pastors.
A penchant for divisiveness is not peculiar to Pentecostals by any means, but it is an area which bears watching. Development of an indigenous ecclesiology is needed, which might correct a tendency toward irresponsible independency.
Relationships between different Pentecostal bodies need attention. How Pentecostals relate to Christians of other denominations is also a neglected issue. Rightly or wrongly, Pentecostals are perceived as exclusivist and separatist. Ecumenical structures, therefore, tend to bypass Pentecostals, whereas the Pentecostal voice needs to be heard. The ongoing Pentecostal dialogue with the Vatican is an indication of what can be done.
Leadership in breakaway churches often exhibits “power-mongering inclinations” which require attention. The history of Pentecostalism is filled with colorful personalities who can be studied for lessons and models of leadership. Pastoral theology should include a solid biblical
P. J. Titus, “Pentecostal Indigenous Movements in Andhra,” in Christianity Is Indian: The Emergence of an Indigenous Community, ed. Roger E. Hedland (Delhi: ISPCK, 2000), pp. 269-93 (386).
Theology of leadership. Pastoral training, which tends to be action oriented, could also include study of Pentecostal theology of mission.
A century of mission experience is a rich field to be exploited. What is the particular Pentecostal mission distinctive? Is it the role of the Holy Spirit in mission? But that is found also in Reformed theology, e.g., H. Boer’s Pentecost and Mission. Is it spontaneity? But that emphasis was already given in the writings of Roland Allan. Perhaps the prominence of the laity is a key, but that is also characteristic of the Brethren movement. Nevertheless, the early Pentecostal movement was essentially a movement of the laity, and the Pentecostal model of participatory training was highly effective in recruiting and equipping leaders, as Bishop Newbigin pointed out.84 further investigation may be fruitful.
Lack of adequate training in biblical exegesis, theological methodology and hermeneutics leaves sections of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement vulnerable to aberrations. Pentecostalism on the American scene has been blemished by “the shattered empires of the deliverance evangelists in the 1950s and the television preachers in the 1980s.” The cloning of these flawed American patterns by Pentecostal-Charismatic preachers in the developing world is not healthy. More disturbing is a tendency to develop peculiar teachings derived from extra-biblical sources. Asian theologian Hwa Yung warns against the danger of Pentecostal and charismatic movements becoming more experience-centered than word-centered. “The problem with an experience-centered Christianity is that historically it has always tended towards extremism and heresy. The only way to avoid this is to hold Spirit and God’s Word together in proper harmony.” This lack of serious theological reflection hindered the development of indigenous ecclesiology and hampered outreach to Hindu intellectuals. “Pentecostalism needs to appreciate the intellect as a product of the Spirit,” states Agrippa Khathide
Lack of serious theological reflection as well as a weak social theology has been noted by critics from South America. Pentecostals have been accused of lacking social awareness. The church’s mission not infrequently is perceived solely as evangelistic preaching and church planting. Members are not encouraged to engage in social or political action. This may have been partly true, but is changing. Pentecostals today are moving into the political arena, but sometimes to support political parties that might grant favors and without critical analysis of structures of injustice. These proclivities notwithstanding, Pentecostalism has demonstrated its power “to touch the lives of the
Richard Shaull and Waldo Cesar, Pentecostalism and the Future of the Christian Churches (Grand Rapids and Cambridge, Eerdmans, 2000), pp. 146,
Poorest and most excluded, to help them reorganize their lives, and to give them a new sense of identity and hope.” In Pentecostal churches in India, people from widely differing social and economic backgrounds can be found worshipping God side by side in unity.
Hollenweger mentions the social implications of an oral liturgy. Pentecostal oral liturgy has enormous appeal in the oral cultures of India. Is Pentecostal Christianity socially relevant? Kerala may be the test. Not infrequently, Dalit and tribal converts in Kerala are found in Pentecostal churches: “a church of the poor!” Pentecostal theology emphasizes the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit giving power for witness and service: “a church with spiritual power!” The indigenous Pentecostals of Kerala are a church in mission among the socially deprived and neglected, as the record shows.
Certain shortcomings seem inherent in the Pentecostal system as derived from its Holiness roots, e.g., a revivalist formulation of individual salvation, which seemed to neglect social components. Shaull, however, finds a growing Pentecostal social commitment which is related to belief in the transforming power of the Spirit. Its ability to adapt and make mid-stream corrections is strength of the Pentecostal movement. Imperfections notwithstanding, the Pentecostal mission of the twentieth century is both remarkable and formative for the Christianity of the new century.
6.6 Warfare Language
Spiritual warfare terminology and practices need to be carefully reconsidered in light of today’s realities especially in Asia. Crusades and campaigns, though spiritually conceived, are perceived as threats by non-Christian populations and governments. Opponents of the gospel are quick to seize upon military-sounding language as evidence of religious imperialism and neo-colonialism. In summary it may be helpful to highlight a few specific points for further attention. Pentecostals need to:
Distinguish between the demonic and psychological disorders, when dealing with demonized or depressed persons. Shamanistic practices should be avoided.
Avoid overemphasis on deionization. Do not assume that expelling demons will solve all the person’s other problems
Recognize that occult practices such as the horoscope, palmistry, divination, necromancy, mediumship, possession, charms and amulets may be part of the background of converts.
Recognize practices of mantra among converts from New Age mysticism and Eastern religions and provide suitable theological replacement.
Avoid spiritual dualism. God and the devil are not equals! Satan is a defeated foe.
Be aware of controversies over the territorial spirits issue. The Bible gives “no hints that believers are to concern themselves with such spirits.... There is no evidence in the New Testament that a concern about territorial spirits ever figured into the missionary strategy of the early Christians.”
Charles H. Kraft, “Contemporary Trends in Spiritual Warfare,” in Deliver Us from Evil: An Uneasy Frontier in Christian Mission, eds. A. Scott Moreau, et al. (Monrovia, MARC, 2002), pp. 177-202 (187).
Historically it appears that exorcism could be practiced by any Christian calling on the name of Jesus. Christians were exorcists! No religious specialists were required. Exorcism takes place “primarily on the church’s border with paganism.” Resist the publicity syndrome! Billboard promotion of healing and evangelistic events is detrimental to Christian witness in many contexts today. “Our present persecution in India has been sparked by exaggerated, distorted reports and statistics published widely in newspapers and journals and on the Internet.” Plan follow up for evangelization events. Success stories should be scrutinized, facts documented. Inquirers and seekers require
The examples studied indicate that the worldwide Pentecostal movement was less a product of mission agencies but more the result of local initiatives by enthusiastic indigenous believers. This thesis could be supported by further evidence from the numerous non-western Christian movements in Africa (e.g., African Instituted Churches), Latin America and other regions, but that is beyond the scope of this study. From his research carried out in five Latin American countries, six in Africa and six in Asia, Donald Miller describes the Pentecostal churches studied as possessing an outrageous vision. It’s outrageous to the point that people set goals for themselves that are utterly unattainable by normal human standards; but the fact is, they oftentimes attain these goals. They are very much people with a vision who gain their commitment and power to carry out that commitment from a source other than themselves. Many of these churches are extremely large; their worship is often extremely dynamic. Almost all of the large churches have coped with their growth by having cell groups or the equivalent, which then become the primary means of evangelism. They also function as the primary outlet for social ministries in many instances. And they provide the opportunity for people to learn leadership skills. The pastors function as trainers, as opposed to simply ministers, and they train people to do the work of ministry. And therein lies the key to the future. Pentecostal mission is not tied to traditions of the past. If there is a mythical golden age, it was the apostolic age of the New Testament. Neither hierarchy nor clergy nor cathedrals are required; ecclesiastic embellishments are peripheral and not of the essence of the church. Christian witness in the postmodern age and evangelization of the uncharted are major challenges of the twenty-first century. And the Pentecostals and related new Christian movements, which are themselves the products of the Pentecostal missionary movement, are well-equipped to respond to the challenge.110 The Pentecostals are among the primary bearers of the Christian mission during the new century. From the Pentecostal example we derive lessons for other churches.
Mission is possible! Whether in a postmodern culture or a hostile environment. Churches need not be tied to the patterns of the past. Christian ministry is for all the members. Training for ministry takes place in the local church. Leaders reborn in the local church. Pastors should be trainers of people for the work of ministry Urbanization offers tremendous scope for Christian mission. Cell groups are a primary means of mission in the urban world. The gospel has power to transform lives and society. “A church of the poor” can be “a church with power” for witness and service. A witnessing church can have a powerful impact in society. Theology should respond to local cultural beliefs and fears. Theologians are needed who will exegete both Scripture and culture.
1 Vinson Synan, the Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1997),
2 Walter J. Hollenweger, Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1997), “Third World” terminology refers to the non-western, developing Majority World.
3 Vinson Synan, the Spirit Said ‘Grow’ (Monrovia: MARC, 1992),
4 Synan, the Spirit Said ‘Grow’
5) Allan H. Anderson and Walter J. Hollenweger, eds., Pentecostals after a Century: Global Perspectives on a Movement in Transition (Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1999).
7) Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, “One Hundred Years of Pentecostal Missions: A Report on the European Pentecostal/Charismatic Research Association’s 1999 Meeting,” Mission Studies 16:1-2 (2000),
8) Roger E. Hedlund, the Protestant Movement in Italy (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1970),
9) Hedlund, the Protestant Movement in Italy,
11 Roger E. Hedlund, “Why Pentecostal Churches Are Growing Faster in Italy?” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 8:3 (Spring 1972),
12) Waldo César, “From Babel to Pentecost: A Social-Historical-Theological Study of the Growth of Pentecostalism,” in Between Babel and Pentecost: Transnational Pentecostalism in Africa and Lain America, ed. André Corten and Ruth Marshall-Fratani (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001),