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Leading a Church in the Twenty-first Century: An International Perspective

How Shall We Lead the Church?

In this Pneuma Review conversation, preacher and international instructor Aldwin Ragoonath asks, what is hindering church growth in North America? How can we can lead towards growth in the church in the Twenty-first century?


Where I am Coming From

Aldwin Ragoonath

I was born into a nominal Hindu home that progressed to a nominal Christian in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. I became a committed Christian at age 15 and received some of my theological training in Trinidad where I pastored for a few years. Later, I pastored for more than 20 years in Canada. I earned a Doctor of Ministry in homiletics and a Doctor of Theology in Pentecostal preaching. My book, Preach the Word: a Pentecostal Approach (Canada: Agape Teaching Ministry, 2004) has been printed in several languages and is being used around the world.1 In the last thirteen years I have facilitated Pentecostal preaching seminars and courses in Pentecostal preaching all over the globe to more than 4,000 pastors, mainly in the 10/40 window—among the highest populations of non-Christians in the world.

Problems within the Western Church

David Mains, founder of the national Christian Canadian TV program 100 Huntley Street, did a survey of 100 cities in Canada trying to find out what are some of the problems hindering church growth. He discovered that the major problem in the church is apathy. People don’t care about the church and its ministry.2 This can also be said of America.

Selfishness, in all its manifestations, is the second problem. When a proposal is presented to a pastor or lay person, the usual response is, “What’s in it for me?” Historians in the future will refer to this generation as the “I” generation. People are preoccupied with “I.”

People in the church and outside the church are not only concerned about “I” but are very materialistic, overly concerned with money and possessions. Success is measured by how many things i.e. houses, money and cars one possesses. And everything else is sacrificed at this altar of “me, myself and I” including: family, relationships, friends, and commitment to God.

How easy it is for us to get stuck in traditionalism instead of flowing in the creative work of the Holy Spirit.

The thing I have observed with people and churches is they can get stuck in the past and see the past as the measuring stick to do ministry today. For example, we are all glad that Martin Luther brought to the church’s attention our “justification by faith.” The Lutheran church has institutionalized justification by faith, but the church has failed—in my opinion—to accept new revelations brought to its attention, such as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.3 Of course it is imperative that every church denomination hold on to the fundamental doctrines of the historic church, but getting stuck on doctrinal distinctives and methods of the past comes at a great cost to church growth. Generally the church is stuck on traditionalism instead of flowing in the creative work of the Holy Spirit. The same could be said of Pentecostals as a movement because they are stuck in the past. They are stuck in the past, mainly in methodology: how to pray for people to be filled with the Spirit, confrontational evangelism, praying for the sick and needy, counselling, preaching, missionary work, the ministry of the pastor, Sunday School, etc.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2011

About the Author: Aldwin Ragoonath, Ph.D., is a trained homiletician with over twenty years of pastoral experience in the Caribbean and Canada. His ministry is devoted to helping pastors develop their preaching gift, teaching Pentecostal preaching courses and facilitating seminars around the world. He and his wife make their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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