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Invading Secular Space: Strategies for Tomorrow’s Church

The implications of this work for Pentecostal ministry are twofold: one positive and one negative. Positively, Pentecostalism at its best is missional, in that it believes that the Spirit empowers all believers to work actively in the world for the growth of the kingdom, in mission and witness, by encountering the cultures of this world in redemptive and prophetic ways. At their best, Pentecostals have been able to inculturate the gospel, creating truly indigenous expressions of biblical faith. The spontaneity of the Spirit so valued in Pentecostal structures creates space for new and innovative cultural expressions of the gospel. Negatively, Pentecostals today have been seduced by the institutional model of the megachurch structure, in which the growth of numbers and trappings of success become the priority of mission. Top down leadership with a professional class of ministers who administer the faith is becoming the norm in many so-called successful Pentecostal churches, but at the cost of a truly missional approach that sustains personal formation and empowers all the people of God to work in service to the King. The emphasis on performance in these churches, in which “professional” ministers, singers or administrators service the institution, has restricted the participation of the congregation in worship and world engagement. However, Robinson and Smith offer fresh possibilities for creating a more missional church.

Robinson and Smith’s book is helpful for pastors thinking about how to make the church more missional in orientation, though many of their concerns reflect the Episcopal context. Nevertheless, Pentecostals can learn from their wisdom and make the church more meaningful for today’s world.

Reviewed by Peter Althouse

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Category: Fall 2008, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Peter F. Althouse, PhD (University of Toronto), is Assistant Professor of Religion at Southeastern University. He is the author of Spirit of the Last Days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann (T & T Clark, 2003), and has written many articles on eschatology, pneumatology and Pentecostal studies. Faculty page. Facebook.

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