This Week in AG History — December 16, 1973
By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 30 November 2017
British Pentecostal leader and theologian Percy Brewster, in a 1973 Pentecostal Evangel article, identified nine trends facing Pentecostals. While some of these trends were the natural result of the movement’s growth and maturation, others he ascertained as “extremely dangerous” or even Satanic in origin.
When Brewster wrote the article, there were only about 20 to 30 million Pentecostals worldwide. Over the past 44 years, that number has burgeoned to between 350 million and 700 million, depending upon how one defines Pentecostal. Today, Pentecostals would do well to heed Brewster’s advice to carefully reflect about the nine trends, which continue in many Pentecostal circles.
The first trend identified by Brewster is that Pentecostals have become “too sensitive to public opinion.” He encouraged believers to be more like early 20th century Pentecostals, who seemed “immune to criticism.” Rather than adapting to the world’s values, he asserted that Pentecostals should make the Bible their “blueprint for living,” seeking to please God in all they do.
The second trend is that some “accept the heritage of the past without a corresponding personal dedication.” This includes people who were reared in Pentecostal churches and who identify with the Pentecostal tradition, but whose spiritual life is far from where it should be. They have a form of godliness, but not the substance.
The third trend is a weakening in the area of evangelism. Brewster warned that a church which places a low priority on evangelism is committing “spiritual suicide.”
The fourth trend is to spend large amounts of money to build extravagant churches, rather than investing the money in evangelism and missions.
The fifth trend is the tendency to get caught up in the busyness of church work and committees, while neglecting the needs of spiritually hungry souls. Brewster encouraged readers to prioritize evangelism and discipleship.
The sixth trend, according to Brewster, “is an unhealthy move to segregate the young and the old.” In many churches, he witnessed that “the young people are taking over, and sometimes 90 percent of the church energy is expended on the young.” He refuted this as unbiblical, noting that “the older people need the zeal and energy of the young, and the young need the balance of the older people’s wisdom and maturity.”
The seventh trend is an overemphasis on demon power. Brewster cautioned against attributing every problem to demons, which gives undue recognition to the devil, who is “already a defeated foe.”
The eighth trend, and one of the most serious in Brewster’s estimation, is the tendency to tolerate and excuse sin. Pentecostals must clearly and resolutely proclaim truth, rather than shifting their opinions to accommodate human weakness.
The ninth trend, which Brewster also identified as very dangerous, is to think that education can be a substitute for the call of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
How should Pentecostals react to these trends? According to Brewster, theology trumps sociology — Pentecostals should continue to proclaim biblical truth regardless of trends. However, he encouraged them to “contend for the faith without being contentious.”
When Brewster wrote the article in 1973, the charismatic movement was gaining strength in mainline Protestant and Catholic churches. This context helped shape many of the trends that Brewster identified. Many of the new charismatics either stayed in their old denominations or challenged traditional holiness standards if they joined Pentecostal churches. Instead of retreating or compromising in the face of these challenging trends, Brewster encouraged Pentecostals to continue to evangelize at home and abroad, and to fellowship with all who “recognized the Lordship of Jesus Christ” and who sought the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Read Percy Brewster’s article, “A Look at the Worldwide Pentecostal Movement,” on pages 9 to 11 of the Dec.16, 1973, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
* “Anointed to Preach,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman
* “The Birth of a Church,” by David Leatherberry
And many more!
Click here to read this issue now.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
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9 responses to “Nine Trends in Pentecostal Churches: An Observation and Warning from 1973”
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This is such a good article and one that addresses what we see taking place in our churches today. I cry over what my Pentecostal Heritage has come to and it is so hurtful to watch. Sometimes you feel alone in these thoughts and feelings, but your article brings strength and encouragement to me today. I walk around thinking is it just me that feels this way and it leaves a hole in your soul. Thank you for making this article possible for us to read.
Great article. “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof..” is much of the Pentecostal world
Went to a Pentecostal Church when I was a kid, but ultimately we went to whatever churc was closest and convenient. At fifteen I became a Lutheran. Loved hearing about what is going on in the Pentecostal World today!
there is a big change in a great falling away from the truth , not to many want,s to hear the truth anymore or preach the truth . the gospel is watered down and when the outsiders come in they get bored there,s nothing to keep them there .and the services is so rushed . when we go in God,s house it should be praise and worship waiting upon God to fill us with his Spirit , there,s no hunger for God like it was years ago . it,s like the song say.s ,[were drifting to far from the shore ] but i know Jesus said for us not to look back on the former days, he,s going to do greater things , so we jut got to Pray and seek him . get hungry for more of him then we will see results ,search we will find. knock it shall be opened unto us ,so we should ask ourself , what am i doing ? what kind life am i living ,? we will all stand before God some day and there,s no excuses then ,we blame this and that but it,s personal affair,, God is going to have his church .lets pray for our children they need Jesus ,, God Bless you all ,,
In 1954 Percy Brewster from and Alex Tee came for a two-week revival at Evangel Temple in Ft. Smith Arkansas. The revival extended to seven weeks. Alex Tee was praying with me on the 49th night of the revival when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Rev. B Owen Olin was pastor of ET at the time.
Wow, praise the Lord!
Great and relevant article