How Have Pentecostals Changed?

If you’ve ever watched a car rust away, you know it’s a painfully slow process—so slow that the change is imperceptible to the naked eye. Time-lapse photography helps, but otherwise you notice it only over months or even years when you return to the spot, recall what used to be, and finally notice the differences.

Shifts in attitudes or practices are like that. They often come gradually, imperceptibly.

Which is why some may not recognize subtle changes in Pentecostal churches in recent years. Few are able to return to the beginning and recall what used to be. Under those conditions, seeing the differences can be difficult, if not impossible.

But there are some who can provide us with a long-range perspective. In a recent interview with The Pneuma Review*, author Dean Merrill observes, “Despite my decades of work in the wider Christian publishing field, I’m as Pentecostal today as I’ve always been.”

Merrill tells of his Quaker parents encountering the Pentecostal experience about the time he was born. The result was that he grew up taking Scripture, including Acts and the Epistles, at face value. “This was ‘normal Christianity’ as far as I was concerned,” he says.

His early experiences formed a reference point for Merrill—a place to which he could return to measure what has changed. And while there have been changes, it is reassuring to hear Merrill say that the gifts of the Spirit are still operating in today’s Pentecostal churches—and not just in distant, primitive locations overseas. God is still at work in today’s North American churches.

Read the full interview here.


*The Pneuma Review: Journal of Ministry Resources and Theology for Pentecostal and Charismatic Ministries & Leaders