Well, I’d have some theological nuances I’d like to bring in, but from a sociological perspective my response is, “I wouldn’t downplay what is in the engine.” You don’t care for some of their expression? That’s fine. But Pentecostals are trying to reach the lost and grow the Kingdom.
Their distinctives apparently aren’t hindering their growth—their distinctives are propelling growth globally.
People Want a Faith With Flavor
One of the dangers today is “bland evangelicalism.” Many evangelical churches and denominations are in a state of plateau or decline. Some groups are trying to downplay their distinctives to be more acceptable. Who wants to duplicate that? Nobody.
Sometimes the difference between an expanding movement and one that is retracting is how they deal with their distinctives. Some are in protection mode. They feel like they have to preserve their specialness by locking it down and guarding it. Ironically, they end up smothering the mission by covering the light that would shine through their specially designed glass.
Others embrace and celebrate their unique values and expression. In doing so, they attract people who are seeking something more than bland.
For example, I recently reviewed the stats for the 25 largest faith groups in the United States. In the year I reviewed, the only two orthodox Christian groups growing on the list were the Assemblies of God and Church of God (Cleveland). So, what do all of the declining denominations have in common?
Most are mainline, a few are evangelical, but most simply are not as excited about what they believe—and don’t think it needs to be propagated as much—as the Pentecostals.