What Is the Pentecostal Ministry?

by Dell Markey
Preaching is the main function of most full-time Pentecostal ministers.

Preaching is the main function of most full-time Pentecostal ministers.

Pentecostalism is a restorationist movement within Christianity that teaches that supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit such as divine healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues have been restored to the church. There are more than 700 Pentecostal denominations worldwide, with more than 500 million adherents. Their congregations are served by several types of professional and lay ministers.

Distinctive Elements

Pentecostal preaching is often associated with powerful, emotional oratory. Some contemporary Pentecostals are moving away from this style of preaching, emphasizing a more conversational approach to delivering their distinctive message. Regardless of the Pentecostal minister's preaching style, their messages often focus on subjects such as repentance from sin, salvation, heaven and hell, sanctification (growing in holiness through submission to God), the second coming of Christ, divine healing, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Inclusive and Empowered

Most Pentecostals believe that ministry is not limited to preaching, teaching and conducting church services, but encompasses many types of service to God and for the church. Pentecostals believe that God can use whomever He chooses to minister to the church. Many believe that all members of the church should be involved in ministry of some kind. Most Pentecostals believe that some types of ministry, such as preaching and teaching, should be reserved for those who are called to and prepared for the ministry, but that anyone whom God directs can be used to pray for others, prophesy, or serve one another in practical ways.

Called

The world's largest Pentecostal denomination — the Assemblies of God — defines a calling to ministry as "a special impression of the Holy Spirit to serve the Lord through a particular area of ministry." Pentecostals believe that all Christians should seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit for empowerment to serve in whatever way God has called them to, but that only those who can attest to a special calling of God should serve in full-time vocational ministry.

Vocational Ministry

There are many types of vocational ministry recognized by Pentecostals. The most common type of vocational minister in Pentecostal churches is the pastor, who preaches to and oversees the spiritual guidance of a local congregation. Many Pentecostal churches also employ associate pastors, who generally specialize in ministering to a particular group or performing a specific ministry function. Common associate pastors include music pastors — often called worship pastors — youth pastors and children's pastors. Other types of vocational ministers recognized by Pentecostals include missionaries, evangelists (itinerant preachers) and teachers.

Women

Women have played a role in Pentecostal ministry since the movement began in the early 20th century. Most Pentecostal denominations ordain women and allow them to serve both in lay (non-vocational) and full-time vocational ministry. Women such as evangelist Maria Woodworth-Etter and missionary Lillian Trasher helped lay the foundations of the Pentecostal movement. One of the earliest Pentecostal denominations — the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel — was founded by a woman, Aimee Semple McPherson.

About the Author

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.

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