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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Jack Hayford

Pentecost and Society

Longtime pastor of Church on the Way, former president of the Foursquare Church, and widely followed Christian communicator — Jack Hayford has been a household name among Pentecostals for decades. He recently shared his thoughts on Pentecostal ministry with Evangel Editor Ken Horn.

evangel: How have you seen Pentecostal ministry change during your years of ministry?
I think there’s a far greater sensitivity to the culture today. Institutions have had to become broadly sensitive because of any number of factors in our society — the nuances of reaching various ethnic groups and understanding approaches to various sociological groups.

The Pentecostal Movement, when I entered ministry, was unkindly treated by large parts of the body of Christ. I planted my first church in Indiana in 1956, and if people thought you were Pentecostal, to many people it was like you had three eyes. So there’s been that kind of a change.

evangel: So you see Pentecostals more widely accepted today?
Oh, by far. The Pentecostal Movement is, by and large, regarded for the Christ-honoring institution it is. The whole polemic against the Spirit-filled life has altered radically on the landscape of evangelical Christianity. But I don’t see that as a triumph for Pentecostalism. I see it as a gain for the Word of God and people who are open to it. Far more people in evangelicalism are open to the things of the Spirit today, and one of the reasons is they realize that it doesn’t require conformity to every expression of the life of the Pentecostal community. People will even disagree with doctrinal aspects of our pneumatology, or doctrine on the Holy Spirit, yet recognize that there is far more of an expectation of the gifts of the Spirit than they would have given place to in the past. That’s a huge change.

evangel: Can you identify any reasons for this change?
I believe a lot of that is a result of the Pentecostal Movement coming of age. There’s a good and a bad side of that. The good side of it is maturity and Pentecostalism’s interface with the body of Christ. I never observed a sectarian spirit in my own fellowship of the Foursquare Church. There has always been a very great interdenominational generosity, with Pentecostal groups and others. Even before I came into the Foursquare Church, my parents’ influence was very nonsectarian, but highly evangelical.

But life has been insular for many Pentecostals, and I came through that era. It was changing some around World War II. When I entered ministry in the middle ’50s it still existed in some sectors. I think it’s largely unknown today. So the good side is, we’ve become not just socially acceptable, but respected.

The bad side of that is if you seek social acceptance for personal affirmation or even economic benefits. For example, some pastors are slow to give place to a freedom of the operations of the Holy Spirit or supernatural manifestations for fear that it will not appeal to a broad segment of the community.

evangel: How does this relate to the seeker-sensitive model in the Pentecostal church?
I don’t oppose the concept of seeker sensitivity. I think we need to address a culture that doesn’t understand everything about us. But we must not concede our convictions. My experience is that people will accept the truth of the Word if it’s communicated to them in ways that are coherent and practical. e


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