Friday, July 16, 2010

Pentecostals Winning The Believers

Pentecostals are the fastest-growing group of Christians. Attendance at their services has moved into third place behind Anglicans and Roman Catholics in England, according to research published today.

Once regarded as a fringe sector, they outnumber Methodists, although it is not strictly fair to compare the two. Methodists belong to one church while Pentecostals tend to gather in independent churches or groups of churches.

Pentecostals are so called because they practise the charisms, the “gifts of the Spirit” listed by St Paul in chapter 12 of his first letter to the Corinthians. The name is derived from the Feast of Pentecost, when the Disciples were gathered in Jerusalem and were inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak in many languages, enabling them to preach the gospel to the nations. Speaking in tongues, along with prophecy, healing and leadership, are among the charisms practised in Pentecostal churches today.

The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. David Voas, a senior researcher at the Manchester University School of Social Sciences who specialises in examining religious change in modern society, said: “Methodism, a branch of Christianity that originated in England and spread around the world, is dying in Britain. By contrast, immigration from Africa and elsewhere has lead to growth in Pentecostal churches, where the style is more flamboyant.”
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His research is based on an analysis of the recent English Church Census, carried out by the charity Christian Research, which showed Sunday attendance at Methodist churches falling from 289,400 in 2005 to 278,700 in 2006. It comes as Methodists prepare next year to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley, credited with writing 9,000 hymns. Dr Voas said: “Pentecostal worship is vibrant, often involving healing and exorcism, shouting and clapping, fainting and speaking in tongues, and impromptu praying and prophesying.”

Figures show that worshippers in half of the Pentecostal churches in England are predominantly black. In addition, half of all Pentecostal churches in Britain are in London. But many evangelical, predominantly white churches also have Pentecostal elements to their worship, in particular prophecy and speaking in tongues.

The Methodist Church closed 264 churches between 1998 and 2005, more than any other denomination, as attendance declined by a quarter. By contrast, Pentecostal numbers grew by a third and many new churches have opened. The Pentecostal movement includes many separate organisations and autonomous churches, the Assemblies of God and Elim being the largest denominations in this category.

Methodists recently agreed a covenant with the Church of England and many churches share ministers and services. Dr Voas said: “It seems inevit-able that the Methodist Church will be reabsorbed into the Church of England. The Pentecostals have appeared out of nowhere in the last couple of decades, but it remains to be seen whether they can make significant inroads into the white population.”

Figures released by the Church of England yesterday also show a massive rise in people going to church at Christmas. Nearly three quarters of a million people, for example, attend cathedral services. The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, said: “These increases continue to show that the Church of England is uniquely placed to welcome people back to church. There is clearly a desire to consider the spiritual aspects of life at key times throughout the year, times like Harvest, Remembrance Sunday and Christmas.” A third of dioceses across the North and South, in both urban and rural areas, had increases of 10 per cent or greater in attendance over the 24 hours of Christmas last year. Cathedrals are putting on extra services to cope with even more worshippers this Christmas.


High praise

2.78m people went to church over Christmas last year

6% increase in the Church of England’s overall Christmas Eve and Christmas Day congregations last year

2.85m attended millennium celebrations in 2000

28% increase in cathedral congregations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day since 2000

Source: Church of England



TJ said...

The Catholic Church needs to be more responsive to the needs of its flock.

Betty C said...

Most of these Pentecostals will join the Catholic Church once they start searching for the truth.

Albert said...

Lots of their top biblical scholar pastors have joined the Catholic Church. This seems to be a trend. The theology of the Catholic Church is solid and has stood the test of time. Without the power of Christ the Catholic Church would have collapsed a long time ago.

Dr. Simon Tan said...

I'm an ex Protestant and have become a Catholic 5 years ago after much research, travel and soul searching. There are hundreds of thousands of Protestants especially Evangelicals / Pentecostal Christians who are coming back to the Church of Rome. Their Pastors and top theologicians have abandoned the "Sola scriptura" (Bible alone) theology. They now accept that Chrstianity came first, the bible was compiled more than 300 years later. Even then, when the bible was first codified, very few could read it because most people were then illiterate. So, Christians at that time had to rely on oral tradition, the teachings of the early fathers of the Church. All historians (Christian and non-Christians) agree to this. Evangelicals / Pentecostal Christians say they are the true Christians, but they cannot show us their roots since the time of early Christianity in the 5 ancient centres - Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria. They have no ancient churches in these places. Their "churches" were based in American cities less than 100 years ago which started in the basements of restaurants, unused garages and warehouses. Their style is also Americanised - rock and roll songs, disco music, dancing, Pastors with suit and ties etc. Their Pastors made up theology as they went along, that's why there are so many different types of these "churches". Every one of them is teaching something different. Most of these independent churches rely on their "entertainment appeal" and use "motivational speaking techniques" to attract the crowds. If you take a good motivational speaker, play some good rock music, you can have a successful "American based church". A real Christian church should at least be able to trace its roots back to the 5 ancient centres of Christianity.

Larrisa said...

I teach at the RCIA class in my parish and there are an increasing number of pentecostal christians joining RCIA each year wanting to become catholics. Last year, there were 25 pentecostals of the 80 catechumens. This is a very good sign.

Fr. Victor said...

A lot pentecostals and evangelicals are joining the Catholic Church after reading the early founding fathers of the Church and Christian history. This seems to be a growing tread.

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