Growing Up Pentecostal

holy ghost revival
Photographer: Trey Ratcliff

There’ll be singing, there’ll be shouting
There’ll be sorrow, there’ll be pain;
There’ll be weeping, there’ll be praying,
When our Lord shall come again.

Words to hymns like these filled the air every Sunday morning, and every Sunday and Wednesday evening. In those days, we didn’t have to wait for our Lord to come again hear singing, shouting, weeping, and praying. In those days you never knew what was going to happen, what songs were going to be sung, or who had “the key to the service.”

We would be in a worship service and the pastor of the church (usually) would stand up in the middle of the service and say, “Someone has the key to this service! All you have to do is obey God!” And then sure enough, someone would spontaneously shout, dance, pray for someone who was sick, share a testimony of their salvation, or sing a song, and the whole atmosphere be filled with the peace of heaven.

As much as my hardshell Calvinistic theology would like to inform me that this goes against the “regulative principle of worship” or that “things simply don’t happen like that,” I’ve seen an entire congregation come to life with godly joy over someone simply coming down to the altar for prayer.

There wasn’t a “repeat this prayer and you’ll be saved” kind of rhetoric (most of the time). There were genuine, Jesus-loving people who want to help you communicate with God in prayer.

Tim Challies wrote an article about a well-known leader the early Pentecostal movement, and someone who commented on the article was disparaging their own Pentecostal upbringing (they are Reformed now). I am also Reformed now. I’m a Calvinist, and I hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith (with some minor caveats), I can’t disparage my roots. Maybe their experience was bad, but mine wasn’t. Granted, I’m not going to say that everything I witnessed go on in a Pentecostal church during a worship service was right and biblical because it wasn’t, but overall, I feel as though my upbringing helped me more than hurt me.

My grandparents taught me the Bible. By the time I was in my teens I could quote more Scripture from King James Version of the Bible than anybody my age, and it wasn’t because I participated in Bible Quiz Bowls or sword drills. My grandparents didn’t pressure me to memorize verses or play with Bible flash cards. They didn’t do in-home discipleship, family worship, devotions, or anything like that. They simply lived godly lives at home in front me, and as a result, I learned the Bible by watching how much they valued the Bible. I learned hymns by listening to my grandma sing while she was doing chores around the house. When she taught me to play piano, she taught me to play hymns and southern gospel because that’s all she knew.

When other people talk about their bad experiences in Pentecostalism, I have to sigh and unfortunately say, “I know.” I’m all too familiar with the legalistic horror stories of young women being called whores because they had a little blush on or because they wore a pair of knee-length shorts that might cause someone “to stumble” *eye rolls* …whatever.

In those moments, I can only wish they had had my experiences. My experiences weren’t completely free of legalism and unwarranted insecurities, but those things didn’t matter when the worship service would start (or at least, those things didn’t matter to me).

I was free and somehow, I knew it.

Author: RevLoganDixon

27. Simul Justus et Peccator. Husband. Pastor. Thinker. Dreamer. Coffee-drinker.

9 thoughts on “Growing Up Pentecostal”

    1. While I look upon my Pentecostal raising with fondness, I am not a Pentecostal anymore. I’m a Cumberland Presbyterian, and no, I do not watch SBN because Jimmy Swaggart and cronies insist on a salvation that is kept by our works.

      They do not preach the law of God, they preach a law that does not and cannot point to the Gospel because the Gospel message is that our salvation is totally and fully a work of God from justification (beginning) to our glorification (ending).

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      1. Jimmy Swaggart preaches against works. They are totally opposed to anyone who believes in salvation by works. I do not know when you were watching them but they have never said these things, so I think you should give them another shot!

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      2. A believer is the only one that could do that. An unbeliever does not believe in God, and they do not have a personal relationship with God to blaspheme him.
        I believe that you should give the ministry another shot. Remember what Jesus said those without sin cast the first stone. We all have sinned, we try to categorize our sin, and say well I did not do what so and so did. However, to God it is all the same, and we all have shortcomings–some worse than others, but we must forgive and forget.

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      3. Let me explain to you why your argument is wrong and your comment is misinformed.

        //A believer is the only one that could do that. An unbeliever does not believe in God, and they do not have a personal relationship with God to blaspheme him.//

        When Jesus is explaining blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, who is Jesus speaking to? Go back to Mark 3. You’ll see that He is talking to Pharisees. Are they believers? Nope. Therefore, the warning of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is for unbelievers. If you ask 30 different people about what exactly blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is, and you’ll get 30 different answers so I’ll give you mine.

        I believe blasphemy against the Holy Spirit isn’t necessarily an action that you take so much as it is a state that you live in. People who ignore the convicting call of the Holy Spirit to salvation blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and if they go their entire lives without ever heeding that call, then there is no forgiveness for them because they never obeyed the Gospel.

        A believer is someone who has heard the call of the Holy Spirit, repented of their sins, and receive the sacrament of baptism according to Acts 2:38.

        //I believe that you should give the ministry another shot.//

        I don’t know why you think I’m not in ministry now. I’ve been a Cumberland Presbyterian pastor for almost two years, and before that I was filling pulpits off and on wherever I had an opportunity.

        //Remember what Jesus said those without sin cast the first stone. We all have sinned, we try to categorize our sin, and say well I did not do what so and so did. However, to God it is all the same, and we all have shortcomings–some worse than others, but we must forgive and forget.//

        Okay, there’s some truth to that, but I’m not sure how that’s relevant to the discussion at hand.

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      4. Yes, I completely agree that believers who ignore the Holy Spirit are blasheming the Holy Spirit! When I said you should give the ministry another shot, I meant give Jimmy Swaggart another shot. His son and grandson do the majority of the preaching now. I believe you would get a lot from it. This is what I was referring to when I said those without sin cast the first stone.

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