Growing in the Life of Faith
Having evolved from Wesleyan-holiness movement and having received great formational impact from many of the 20th century denominations, Pentecostalism inherits numerous church practices. Yet, several practices are historically, culturally and ecclesiastically distinctive from the Pentecostal churches. Among them are:
1. Baptism with the Holy Spirit accompanied by the initial evidence of speaking in tongues (glossolalia).
2. Practicing of the gifts of the Spirit, with the gifts of speaking and interpreting of tongues being predominant.
3. Foot washing services, as a part of the communion service.
4. Enthusiastic and emotional worship involving the whole congregation.
5. Altar services accompanied with shouting, running and trances.
6. Prayer clothes as a part of prayer for the sick.
7. Life of holiness, not only as a personal lifestyle, but as a discipleship model as well.
8. Inspiring the process of uniting and unifying people from different social, educational, economical and cultural backgrounds forming a movement without borders.
The absence of the above practices in Pentecostal discipleship will result in the following negative implications:
1. Discontinuity with Pentecostal heritage.
2. Discontinuity with Pentecostal theology.
3. Mutilation of Pentecostal Practices.
4. Discontinuity with Pentecostal identity and transformation into a new identity distinct from the Pentecostal one.
5. Failure to fulfill the divine calling for the Pentecostal mission.
Indeed, discipleship can exist without the above listed practices and actions, in the same way it exists in other Christian denominations and movements. However, discipleship of this type will not carry a Pentecostal distinctiveness. Therefore, it is clear that Pentecostal discipleship can exist and be productive only when modeled after distinct Pentecostal practices. Only then will Pentecostal discipleship be a cross-cultural and a cross-denominational movement.
It is unfortunate that Pentecostal practices, even within the global Pentecostal community, are disappearing. It is even more troubling that in many congregations and movements they are mutating to create a new identity much different from the Pentecost of the Bible. For example, in the beginning of the 21st century:
1. Baptism with the Holy Spirit accompanied by the initial evidence of speaking in tongues (glossolalia) is often replaced by the modern and postmodern religious experiences like “holy laughter,” “holy rain,” etc.
2. Practicing of the gifts of the Spirit, is a rare appearance often replaced by “prophetic” utterance and leadership of types quite distanced from the Biblical prophetic operation.
3. Foot washing services are not a part of our worship any longer.
4. Enthusiastic and emotional worship involving the whole congregation is more often faked and imitated than genuinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. The reason: great desire for the results without much discipline to go through the process.
5. Altar services accompanied with shouting, running and trances may still occur, yet they often do not fulfill their original purpose: to reconcile both Christians and sinners with their Creator.
6. Prayer clothes as a part of prayer for the sick are practiced as ministry, yet the results of healing are often not there.
7. A life of holiness has been rejected as impossible, impractical and foolish. The few who still press forth for practicing it have been classified as social outcasts by both the world and the global Christian community.
8. The idea of uniting and unifying people from different social, educational, economical and cultural backgrounds forming a movement without borders has been implemented by the world into the idea of a “global community,” yet it has very little presence and practice in the Pentecostal churches.