*This article first appeared in the Fall 2018 version of Enrich Magazine.
I spent part of my summer vacation in Colorado. While there I visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. They were featuring an amazing Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Uncovered after years of being preserved, these scrolls have affirmed truth and enriched spiritual lives.
In much the same way, Pentecostals have been called by the Spirit to rediscover and live certain biblical truths in a unique way. We are Spirit people. We are entrepreneurs of the kingdom.
We’ve been empowered to reach those who are far from God. This is a vital mission in our world. We must not lose courage in being a distinct people called to a unique purpose. In Genesis we read how “Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up …” (Genesis 26:18). J. I. Packer states: “He knew he would find water in them, once he had cleared them of the earth and debris that malevolent Philistines had piled on top of them.”1 It seems to me that this is our job as church leaders in the 21st century.
By God’s grace, in the 20th century Pentecostals rediscovered some ancient Spirit truths that had been covered over by neglect and poor hermeneutics. These were biblical wells that included a clear understanding of God’s purpose for His church and Christ’s promise of power for ministry.
As we reopened these wells, the world experienced an unprecedented revival. We saw Spirit-empowered ministers face down their fears and insecurities. Churches were planted. Mission fields were opened up.
Biblical truths were preached boldly, and souls were awakened from their culturally induced sleep.
One church growth expert examined the growth of the Pentecostal movement and concluded there were four biblical truths lived out with particular fervour that led to transformation.
Pentecostals are usually characterized by churches of purity, prayer, power and the poor.2 Like Samson’s hair, these elements were key to our success. We were a distinct society. Prayer was foundational; undoubtedly our connection with the Spirit through praying in tongues helped in that regard. We walked close to God, believed for greater things, and reached out to the marginalized. We had a focus and purpose that allowed us to be very missional. We were careful not to be of the world but were passionate about being in the world. We would take risks to go where others would not, and our level of faith in God’s power was high.
Some might say that the recent plateau in our church growth would indicate that Delilah and her scissors are at work. That comfort and respectability have replaced urgency and faith for a new day. That our Spirit-led entrepreneurism has been replaced by caution and pragmatism. May I encourage us all to return to our biblical calling and roots?
We are Spirit people called to dependence on the Spirit and Spirit- empowered ministry. We are not afraid of the facts; instead, we choose to embrace them. We see what is happening in our culture, and we are moved with desperation to partner with the Spirit. The Spirit is creative. The Spirit is helpful. The Spirit brings anointing and a new day. The Spirit will show us God’s glory if only we humble ourselves and submit to His plan. In Exodus 33 Moses was discouraged and frustrated. He needed to move forward to a better place and deeply wanted to see God’s glory.
Clearly, his dependence on God is mixed with desperation as he declares: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).
Do not be afraid of the statistics you read about our post-Christian Canadian reality. Do not be fearful of the role God is calling you to play in church revitalization. As we’ve discovered from both the Bible and our history, God’s presence will go with us. He will be the distinguishing factor. He will help us uncover the spiritual wells. He will give us courage to be a missional people. His Spirit will empower the process of renewal and outreach. Great days are in front of us as we partner with God and with one another.
1. J. I. Packer, The J. I. Packer Classic Collection: Daily Readings for Your Spiritual Journey(NavPress, 2010), 10.
2. C. Peter Wagner, “Characteristics of Pentecostal Church Growth,” [summer 1982?], posted in The ANVIL Newsletter January 10, 2017, http://theanvilnewsletter.blogspot.com/2017/01/characteristics-of-pentecostal-church.html.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Guest post by Derrick Hamre. Derrick is the lead pastor of Christian Life Assembly in Langley, B.C.