What Is Pentecostal Preaching?
What is Pentecostal preaching. Is there a distinction to be made from other forms of preaching? If so, is that distinction substantive or merely stylistic, or maybe merely denominational? Would not all sincere preachers (stereotypes aside) claim a link to Pentecost? Is a claim to distinctiveness suggestive of a kind of arrogance and superiority?
For the most part Pentecostal preachers have been strongly influenced by the styles, models, and personalities set forth by evangelicals. Most books on preaching typically used by Pentecostals are authored by evangelicals. The high profile and promoted preachers of the day are typically non-Pentecostal in persuasion. Many Pentecostal preachers have been trained in non-Pentecostal educational institutions. The most widely attended preachers’ conferences are usually non-Pentecostal in their orientation.
But it is time that Pentecostals seize the initiative and recognize the uniqueness of the preaching ministry when it is thoroughly rooted in the dynamic of Pentecost. The distinctions noted below are intended to be held in a spirit of humility and openness. In no way are they intended to suggest judgment on others or to indicate in any way an attitude of superiority:
1. Pentecostal preaching invites the spontaneous and the immediate.
2. Pentecostal preaching exhibits the dynamic and power of the Spirit.
3. Pentecostal preaching is message focused and resonates with a sense of the prophetic.
4. Pentecostal preaching is punctuated with the supernatural and the unusual.
5. Pentecostal preaching is arresting and captivating — driven and empowered by the Spirit.
6. Pentecostal preaching is relevant, life focused, and contemporary.
7. Pentecostal preaching is authority anchored — it takes God at His Word.
8. Pentecostal preaching is adaptive to the personality of the preacher — so the preacher becomes part of the message.
9. Pentecostal preaching is simple, clear, direct, and always in the vernacular.
10. Pentecostal preaching is declarative rather than apologetic.
The distinctions identified here are measured in terms of degree. Non-Pentecostal preachers would likely identify with each. However, the purpose here is to draw attention to those characteristics that may suggest ways in which notable distinctions might be drawn.
In a search for a clear definition of Pentecostal preaching, it is instructive to observe the pattern in the Book of Acts. Consistently, preaching follows an observable evidence of a significant supernatural happening in the life of the Church. The “sermon” then becomes a biblical or expositional explanation of what has occurred.
Consider the following:
(1) The apostle Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is a biblical explanation of the Spirit’s manifestation on the Day of Pentecost.
(2) Peter’s sermons in Acts 3 and 4 follow the healing of the crippled beggar who had sat for years at the gate of the temple.
(3) Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7 follows his arrest and appearance before the Sanhedrin, and provides a biblical response to his accusers.
(4) Peter’s sermon to the crowd gathered at Cornelius’s house in Acts 10 provides an explanation for the miraculous leading of the Holy Spirit in breaking down barriers between Jew and Gentile.
(5) Paul’s defense before King Agrippa in Acts 26 consists of his testimony — set against the teaching of Scripture (Acts 26:6,7,22,23).
The pattern is clear: Preaching that is rooted in the reality of Pentecost finds its authority in an explanation, or exegesis, of Scripture. Consistent with the first Pentecostal outpouring, the outpouring at the turn of the twentieth century appealed to Scripture for an exegesis of the Spirit’s work. During times of revival in these days as well, we turn to God’s Word in order to exegete the work of the Spirit. The link between preaching and exegesis is inseparable!
Richard L. Dresselhaus, D.Min., is an executive presbyter and former senior pastor, First Assembly of God, San Diego, California.
Copyrighted by Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.