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An Invisible Postmodern Pentecostal Church

In this guest article by David Redden, he discusses what an integrated paradigm of worship and discipleship might look like for today’s Pentecostal/charismatic.

There is much talk about today as to what is Postmodern. You can read books and articles from Leonard Sweet to Peter Wagner and get as many variations on that theme as you read. To suffice for this article, a “post-modern” approach to ministry is one that is anything but what you have been accustomed to. Unfortunately, many of our traditions keep us from even being able to conceive of a variation to our own repetitious themes. The church has strived for so long to become “modern” that our identity has become lost in two areas. First, our identity becomes lost in the things which we have brought into our beliefs merely for the sake of seeking acceptance from the world. Secondly, our identity becomes lost in things which we hold on to that do not help us progress forwards with our mission. What we need today is a “Post” modern approach that will enable us to let go of poor traditions, cling to what is vital to keeping us on course, and adaptable enough to allow new methodologies into our practices that will enable us to reach a more diverse culture.

Today’s church desperately needs to break away from the traditional models of ministry in order to be able to meet the needs of today’s society.

Today’s church desperately needs to break away from the traditional models of ministry in order to be able to meet the needs of today’s society. For Pentecostals, many traditional ministry models do not facilitate the discipleship of Pentecost. From the earliest movements of Pentecost, the experience of the Holy Spirit Baptism has been one of radical transformation in the daily lives of individuals. The experience transcends the form of a weekend expression and strives for worshiping God with daily obedience. To measure the progress of Pentecostal discipleship, one cannot merely observe the expressions of a weekend service, but rather how well the ministry on Sunday effects lives throughout the week. Pentecostal discipleship must focus on how effective our ministry efforts change the daily lives of our members. Measuring giving, weekend attendance, and the enthusiasm of the service alone will not provide an accurate measure to Pentecostal growth. True Pentecostal growth occurs when the power of the Holy Spirit enables individuals to overcome sin, stand underneath the oppression of the world, and evangelizes the community. Traditional terms, forms, images, models, expectancies, and goals all hinder the spontaneity and freedom of God’s Spirit to move in a non-traditional manner. Every aspect of the Azusa street revival was completely contrary to the traditional models of ministry. From this experience we can see how traditional views disable discipleship efforts. Many traditions, or various denominations, renounced the move as being heretical. Those traditions not only moved further away from the means by which God wanted to meet the societal needs, but drew deep dividing lines among the body of Christ. Only today, nearly one hundred years later, are those traditions searching and trying to understand the move of God’s Holy Spirit like in the Azusa street revival. The very obstacles that hindered the church then, are the very obstacles we face today. Our inability to allow our traditions to be challenged keeps us from refining our practices and remaining potent. When the minister blindly holds to traditions, the risk of not understanding a new move of God is great. In fact, we too may lead our tradition into a one hundred year wandering. Our practices and traditions should keep us on course even when the course changes. There needs to be a balance in holding to the traditions that keep you on course and grafting in the new forms of ministry that will become a continuing part of our present tradition.

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About the Author: David Redden, D.Min (Pentecostal Theological Seminary), M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is a US Army chaplain with years of pastoral experience in crisis counseling, teaching, and preaching. LinkedIn

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