Pentecost is a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), sometimes described as ”Birthday of the Church". It’s celebrated every seventh Sunday after Easter.
Pentecostalism is derived from pentecost as a renewal movement within Christianity that emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. As described in Bible about the day of Pentecost in Book of Acts, "On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus' resurrection, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." (Acts 2:1-11).
Those who experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit may receive one or more spiritual gifts, including the abilities to prophesy or utter messages from God, practice physical healing, speak in tongues or spiritual languages (glossolalia), and interpret tongues.
Pentecost churches are congregational in governance (several have coordinating national and national bodies). The World Pentecostal Council provide a global network of fellowship, but it doesn’t arbitrate on matters of doctrine or church administration.
Churches are led by pastors who are seen as teachers, motivators and coordinators.
Membership estimation varies widely. The magazine Christianity Today reported that approximated 25 percent of the world's Christians are Pentecostal or charismatic. Lower estimates is near to 22 million, while the highest estimates is between 400 and 600 million. According to a Spring 1998 article in Christian History, there are about 11,000 different Pentecostal or charismatic denominations worldwide.
According to a Pew Forum analysis of estimates from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are about 279 million pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians in the world. pentecostal and charismatic Christians together make up about 27% of all Christians and more than 8% of the world’s total population. The Pew Forum’s analysis of CSGC data estimates that about eight-in-ten of the world’s pentecostals reside either in sub-Saharan Africa (44%) or in the Americas (37%).
Examples of some of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States: the Assemblies of God, the Church of God in Christ, New Testament Church, Church of God (Cleveland) etc.
Leadership used to be very simple: those who exhibited a "call" to the ministry and were led by the Holy Spirit were declared fit for leadership. Early Pentecostalism was more democratic in terms of leadership, women were regularly called to the ministry.
As they follows Biblical mandates which forbade women to have authority over man, Pentecostalist women had particular roles to play but never been seen as exercising power over man.
Pentecostalism is an evangelical faith, emphasizing the reliability of the Bible and need for the transformation of an individual's life through faith in Jesus. The central belief of Pentecostalism is that through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sins can be forgiven and humanity reconciled with God.
“Speaking in tongues” is practiced and seen as one of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, referring to an endless variety of languages. Such languages can be unlearned human language or heavenly originated.
Snake handlers used snakes to show non-Christians the God protects them from harm. In church services, when they feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit come upon them, these Christians reach into boxes, pick up venomous snakes and hold them up as they pray, sing, and dance.
Pentecostalists believe that sickness is a consequence of the Fall of Man which salvation will ultimately restore the fallen world. They prey with faith, trusting God cares for them and the provision he made in Christ for healing is sufficient. Even if it doesn’t heal, they will continue to trust God.
The Azusa Street Revival:
It was a historic Pentecostal revival meeting in Los Angeles, California and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement, led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher.
It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by miracles, dramatic worship services, speaking in tongues, and inter-racial mingling. Los Angeles Times described: meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, and the devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howling of the worshippers, who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve racking attitude of prayer and supplication. They claim to have the "gift of tongues" and be able to understand the bible.
Jeffrey K. Hadden collected statistics from the various large Pentecostal organizations demonstrating that the Pentecostals are experiencing very rapid growth. In Myanmar, the Assemblies of God of Myanmar is one of the largest Christian denominations. The Pentecostal churches Igreja do Evangelho, Completo de Deus, are examples of the largest denominations of Mozambique.
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