Catch the Current
What Might We Do Together? Charismatic and Pentecostal Influencers Converge
An Unusual Sense of Growth & Collaboration. The rapid growth of the E21 movement is clear, measurable and remarkable. Jack Hayford noted that "the need of the hour is for an outpouring of the Spirit, or of the love of God in the lives of people. Our world desperately needs this. E21 has a definition, a plan and a dynamism of the Holy Spirit in it." The opening speaker at C21, Robert Morris, popular author and pastor of Gateway Church, said, "There is no way all of this could have happened so quickly unless it was a God thing."
The Pentecostal movement itself continues to grow at a rapid rate. It is arguably the fastest-growing component of Christendom today. Johnson, Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, gave a new report on the status of Spirit-Empowered churches. The Center has recently adopted the term "Renewalists" to represent the three key sectors of this movement, including Classical Pentecostals, Main-line Denominational Charismatics and Independent Charismatics. At present, it is estimated that these groups combined make up 584 million worldwide, or 26 percent of all Christians.
A "Friendly" Revival
C21 drew together influencers and communicators from all generations. Luis Miranda, a noted elder statesman among Hispanic Pentecostals and Chairman of the NHCLC, said in an interview, "I am encouraged that this was a meeting of the academics and the clergy. The significance [of C21] is the converging of the theological and the ecclesial."
Nick Hall, a young leader and keynote speaker at the popular Winterjam events across the nation, said, "God is really speaking to the church today about the Holy Spirit. Students have such a hunger to understand the fullness of being a follower of Jesus. The Spirit has extreme relevance to where kids are today." Several leaders at the event expressed concern that many Pentecostal churches and leaders in the U.S. have pulled back from teaching and preaching on the Holy Spirit.
"C21 was a strategic event," said Wilson. "There has been a void of networks among Pentecostals and Charismatics worldwide. We decided to invite a select group of leaders to this USA event. The 21st Century is all about relational networks and that is what we are seeking to establish. There are no 'big dogs' in this group. In fact, we don't even pay our speakers honorariums or even travel expenses. They come and serve simply out of their commitment to the fellowship, to the network, and to the mission."
Hayford said, "The need of the hour is not for more privatized religion, but for dynamic society-changing love. We live in a day when the love of God is overflowing in all kinds of dimensions." E21 presently focuses on creating resources for Spirit-empowered leaders and churches. It also challenges pastors and churches to preach sermons on the person and power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday this year (May 27, 2012) and every year.
Perhaps the distinguishing aspect of the Converge event, and the movement it represents, is not only the spirit of collaboration, but the speed at which it has developed. Wilson said, "Trust is an essential factor. The greatest revivals in history were led by friends."
Robert Crosby is an author and Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Read his interview with Bobby Gruenewald, the Founder of YouVersion.com (the Bible App) and related articles at Christianity Today—The New Engagers and The Social Network Gospel.
Robert Crosby is the author of the new book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press). Crosby's column, "Catch the Current," is published every other Tuesday on the Evangelical portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.