Most people in the United States, particularly here in the Midwest, think of Christianity in terms of denominations.
If asked to name a church, people will say 1st this or 1st that: First AME, First Presbyterian. I’ve never heard of 6th Baptist or 8th Reformed unless its got street in the title: Third Street Epispocal.
And lots (despite ever present church conflicts) call themselves United. There’s the United Methodists, the United Church of Christ, the United Pentecostal Church.
Some people really hate denominations. So they call themselves nondenominational. That is rather humorous because doctrinally, most every one of them is fairly Baptist so they’ve become the nondenominational denomination.
Denominations serve a purpose, and so they should not be altogether abolished. But the fact that there are so many denominations is reflective of our culture. There were divisions over doctrine in Europe, but the rise of so many denominations is a distinctly American contribution to Christianity.
Globally, most Christians are Pentecostal. Like it or not. I happen to love it.
What you may not know is that if you attend a United Methodist church in South America, that church could very well look and seem like an American Pentecostal church. NonPentecostal Denominations who have very intentionally distanced themselves from Pentecostalism are actually facing the reality that God wants the Holy Spirit to be free to minister to theri people around the world.
I had a Baptist friend who said he was very concerned because one of the mission churches they were supporting in Asia had suddenly “been filled with the Spirit.” They were now praising and worshipping with a new vibrancy and joy, and people were operating in the gifts of the Spirit including prophesying and speaking in tongues. My friend said he was very troubled by the church’s refusal to stop this. Stop a revival!? I told him he was crazy. The Bible says “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
Pentecostal churches and denominations are growing because we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way. It is not about human religion and rituals. Traditional mainline denominations are accepting Pentecostal influences into their “contemporary worship services” because they are realizing the value of a real relationship with God. Hillsong Church in Australia is responsible for many of the contemporary Christian songs (like Shout to the Lord) people in all denominations know.
Entire nations are being impacted in positive ways due to the influence of Pentecostal churches.
Yoido Full Gospel church in South Korea has 1 Million members. MILLION. That’s no small number. Its something to pay attention to.
Most people in Northeast Wisconsin have not been exposed to true Pentecostal worship and easily criticize it for lack of understanding.
But if a million people in South Korea and another 499 million around the world are Pentecostal, don’t you think its worth looking into?