The Pentecostal Contribution

Beginning around 1906, the Pentecostal movement gave us a more emotional expression of congregational singing. This included the lifting of one's hands, dancing in pews, clapping, speaking in tongues, and the use of tambourines. The Pentecostal expression was in harmony with its emphasis on the ecstatic working of the Holy Spirit.

What few people realize is that if you removed the emotional features from a Pentecostal church service, it would look just like a Baptist liturgy. Thus no matter how loudly Pentecostals claim that they are following New Testament patterns, the typical Pentecostal or charismatic church follows the same order of worship as do most other Protestant bodies. There is simply more freedom for emotional expression in the pew.

Another interesting feature of Pentecostal worship occurs during the song service. Sometimes the singing will be punctuated by an occasional utterance in tongues, an interpretation of tongues, or word of "prophecy." But such utterances rarely last more than a minute or two. Such a pinched form of open participation cannot accurately be called "body ministry.""' The Pentecostal tradition also gave us solo or choral music (often tagged as "special music") that accompanies the offering.'"

As in all Protestant churches, the sermon is the climax of the Pentecostal meeting. However, in the garden-variety Pentecostal church, the pastor will sometimes "feel the Spirit moving." At such times he will suspend his sermon until the following week. The congregation will then sing and pray for the rest of the service. For many Pentecostals, this is the pinnacle of a great church service.

The way congregants describe these special services is fascinating. They typically say, "The Holy Spirit led our meeting this week. Pastor Cheswald did not get to preach." Whenever such a remark is made, it begs the question, Isn't the Holy Spirit supposed to lead all of our church meetings?

'■'■■' By "pinched" we mean very restricted. Pentecostal and charismatic churches that have services that are completely open for the congregation to minister and share freely without any restrictions are not at all typical today. White, Protestant Worship, 204.

Even so, as a result of being born in the afterglow of Frontier-Revivalism, Pentecostal worship is highly subjective and individualistic.'" In the mind of the Pentecostal, as in the minds of most other Protestants, worshipping God is not a corporate affair, but a solo experience.'"

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