Pentecostalism

Race, Sex and Liberation: Pentecostal Studies President Steers Society in New Direction

Society for Pentecostal Studies President Paul Alexander’s address was suffused with liberation theology themes in which he denounced “white racing,” “male sexing” and urged gathered Pentecostal academics to accept “LGBTQI* realities” in their churches and seminaries. ... In his address to the society, Alexander noted that some Christians who are “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex” are also Pentecostals and Charismatics, urging that the society should openly discuss “our diversity of perspectives” without “fear of reprisal.” keep reading... http://juicyecumenism.com/2013/04/08/race-sex-and-liberation-pentecostal-studies-president-steers-society-in-new-direction/ *LGBTQI stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex

The turnaround of the Australian Christian Churches

hillsong.jpg For the first forty years of its existence the number of ACC* attenders and churches grew steadily. Something changed in the late 1970s and the movement took off.

Attendances grew from 9,446 people to 215,000 between 1977-2007 — a staggering 2276%. The number of churches grew from 152 to 1120 — or 736%.

Despite this history, the number of ACC churches has recently fallen — from 1133 in 2008, to 1073 in 2011.

If the number of ACC churches continues to shrink, so will attendances.

What could be at the heart of this dramatic turnaround?

The ACC may be suffering from is the “failure of success.” In their early stages, movements risk everything for the cause they believe in. Success can change movements. They become risk averse. They have attained a place in society, they have resources, their clergy are increasingly educated and respected. They have more to lose.

In a plateaued movement, the next generation of leaders would prefer to be on the staff of a large successful church, than take the risk of planting a new church. Larger churches would prefer to reproduce what they know works, rather than risk planting new churches.

Growing something bigger is safer than starting something new. Success is measured by the size of a church, rather than the number of generations of new churches it has produced.

The challenge for the ACC is to make an innovative return to the best of its traditions . . .

*The Australian Christian Churches was formally known as the Assemblies of God in Australia

The turnaround of the Australian Christian Churches

hillsong.jpg For the first forty years of its existence the number of ACC* attenders and churches grew steadily. Something changed in the late 1970s and the movement took off.

Attendances grew from 9,446 people to 215,000 between 1977-2007 — a staggering 2276%. The number of churches grew from 152 to 1120 — or 736%.

Despite this history, the number of ACC churches has recently fallen — from 1133 in 2008, to 1073 in 2011.

If the number of ACC churches continues to shrink, so will attendances.

What could be at the heart of this dramatic turnaround?

The ACC may be suffering from is the “failure of success.” In their early stages, movements risk everything for the cause they believe in. Success can change movements. They become risk averse. They have attained a place in society, they have resources, their clergy are increasingly educated and respected. They have more to lose.

In a plateaued movement, the next generation of leaders would prefer to be on the staff of a large successful church, than take the risk of planting a new church. Larger churches would prefer to reproduce what they know works, rather than risk planting new churches.

Growing something bigger is safer than starting something new. Success is measured by the size of a church, rather than the number of generations of new churches it has produced.

The challenge for the ACC is to make an innovative return to the best of its traditions . . .

*The Australian Christian Churches was formally known as the Assemblies of God in Australia

7 billion reasons

Here are his estimates of the trends in population growth and the changes in religious identification since 1900. Note the incredible rise of Pentecostal/Charismatic movements (includes African independent churches and Chines underground house churches) which has taken place predominantly in the developing world where the population is growing fastest.

Christianity surges in Indonesia

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Time Magazine reports:

A religious revolution is transforming Indonesia. Part of the spiritual blossoming entails Muslims embracing a more conservative form of faith, mirroring global trends that have meant a proliferation of headscarves and beards in modern Islamic capitals. More surprising, though, is the boom in Christianity — officially Indonesia's second largest faith and a growing force throughout Asia. Indeed, the number of Asian Christian faithful exploded to 351 million adherents in 2005, up from 101 million in 1970.

  more. . .

Thanks to reader Bryan.

Is the gospel good news for the poor?

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It is certainly a distortion of the Christian message if it is primarily interpreted as a program for the material improvement of the human condition.

The core of the Christian message is the proclamation of a tectonic shift in cosmic reality inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This proclamation radically relativizes all the empirical givens of this world, including all human institutions. Any reinterpretation of Christianity in terms of a this-worldly agenda, individual or collective, is a distortion.

Peter Berger

Peter Berger is the leading sociologist of our time. He is also a Christian.

In a this article he reflects on the impact of Pentecostal Christianity on the poor in Africa. You might be surprised by his findings.

The Reformation of Machismo

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iStock_000008392519Medium

The conventional wisdom is that Christianity reinforces the oppression of women.

Elizabeth Brusco, a feminist Marxist scholar conducted fieldwork in Columbia from 1982-1983, and found that pentecostal conversion transformed traditional gender relations by giving women a moral authority in the home to challenge their husbands’ drinking, gambling, or adultery.

She wrote up her findings in "The Reformation of Machismo: Evangelical Conversion and Gender in Columbia" (1995).

Brusco wanted to find out, What happens to the macho value system when the husband converts to evangelical Protestantism?

The answer? He swears off the traditional masculine vices like drinking and partying most of the weekend and reintegrates himself into the household. He assumes the role of husband and father he may have neglected since the early days of his marriage and participates actively in the church community.

For many men, no longer having to maintain the facade of unrelieved masculinity and bravado is a great relief; the private world of household and loved ones is preferable to the public world of men. Brusco writes that, “In Colombia, machismo is, over the long run, very demanding and difficult for all under its sway, including the males who must perform this role" (p. 120).

Those changed male behaviors result in a radical reorientation of family consumption patterns. If formerly a goodly share of the husband's income was diverted into wine, women, and song, that income is now channeled toward the welfare of the entire family.

Thus individual consumption by the father/husband turns into collective spending on a better diet and educating the children.

Another major shift takes place within the family, in the sphere of power relations between spouses. If the macho husband was characterized by drunkenness, infidelity, and even physical abuse of wife and children, the converted husband is pacific (appropriate New Testament behavior) and his attentions focused on his marriage and home life. Upon his conversion, however, he adopts a value system sharply at odds with the values prescribed for males by the dominant culture.