Pentecostalism is one of the fastest-growing movements, not just in the Protestant tradition but in the history of Christianity. The movement started over 100 years ago in America but has quickly circled the globe. Unfortunately, though many people have had a good experience with Pentecostalism, not everyone has.
An Ex-Pentecostal used to be a Pentecostal but has left the tradition. Former Pentecostals may still be professing Christians who are committed to a new denomination or church, or they may have left Christianity altogether. There are different reasons why people leave Pentecostalism.
Why do some Pentecostals leave their churches to attend non-Pentecostal churches? Why do some Pentecostals leave Christianity altogether? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also, see Do Pentecostals Drink Alcohol? to learn more.
Some Ex-Pentecostals Leave To Attend Other Churches
The term “Pentecostalism,” in general use, doesn’t describe a denomination per se but a belief system that certain denominations hold.
The largest Pentecostal denominations — i.e., those that embrace Pentecostal theology — are the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). In addition, some churches may include the word Pentecostal in their title to inform people of their beliefs.
Also, some Christians who embrace Pentecostal theology may attend churches that are non-denominational or that being to a denomination that permits, but doesn’t embrace, Pentecostal theology. (Also see Pentecostal vs. Evangelical: What’s the Difference?)
Why do people leave Pentecostal churches? People leave Pentecostal churches for various reasons, some related to the tradition’s doctrines and practices (see more directly below).
In addition, however, some people leave Pentecostal churches for reasons unrelated to the tradition’s doctrine and practices (see the last section below).
Is Pentecostalism Christian? Yes. Pentecostals affirm and defend the core doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the Trinity, the inspiration of Scripture, original sin, the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Second Coming.
They are generally conservative in their theological and social views. Their unique doctrine and practical emphasis regard baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. (Also see the full article Do Pentecostals Speak in Tongues?)
What do Pentecostals believe about baptism in the Holy Spirit? Most non-Pentecostal Christians believe that baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion.
Pentecostals believe it happens after conversion, i.e., after a person has repented of sin and decided to follow Christ.
When exactly baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs is different for each person, although Pentecostal theologians and pastors believe everyone should seek and anticipate it. (Also see Pentecostals vs. Catholic: What’s the Difference?)
What do Pentecostals believe about speaking in tongues? Pentecostalism argues that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, after a person converts to Christ, they should seek and anticipate speaking in tongues to increase their devotion to God, overcome sin, and be empowered for service and ministry.
Why do people leave Pentecostalism because of its doctrine and practice? Baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are the tradition’s unique emphases, but as such, they can be a source of division and controversy.
Some people leave because they feel pressured to have experiences outside their control. Others leave because they don’t think a denomination or church stresses its unique doctrines and practices enough. (Also see Pentecostal vs. Apostolic: What’s the Difference?)
Do Christians Leave Pentecostal Churches for Other Reasons?
People sometimes leave Pentecostal churches for reasons unrelated to the tradition’s doctrines and practices. People may leave a Pentecostal church for the same reason a person would leave any church.
Some people get their feelings hurt. Some people dislike change concerning leadership, musical style, or service time. And some people stop going to church altogether. (Also see Why Do Pentecostals Fall on the Floor?)
Where do ex-Pentecostals go? Those who leave may go to various other churches, including Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Episcopalian.
Some may also attend non-denominational churches. Those who experience a significant change in their theological beliefs may attend a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church.
Are departures from Pentecostal churches higher than non-Pentecostal churches? No. Statistically, people leave the Assemblies of God denomination less than others leave so-called “mainline” churches, like Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian.
Did David Wilkerson, Hillsong Church, and Bethel Church leave Pentecostalism? Sometimes people cite these examples as people who have left Pentecostalism, but that isn’t true. Wilkerson, Hillsong, and Bethel left the Assemblies of God denomination but embraced Pentecostal theology when they departed. For more, see,
Some ex-Pentecostals Leave Christianity Altogether
The reason some people leave Pentecostal churches isn’t because of Pentecostalism but because of Christianity in general.
Some who leave don’t go to church anywhere because their faith has eroded. Reasons people leave the Christian faith are numerous, but here are a few common examples.
- They changed their mind about God: Some argue that any change of faith is foremost about an individual’s relationship with God. The person may cite other reasons (see below), but fundamentally their departure is due to anger, confusion, or something similar about God.
- They changed their mind about the church: No church is perfect, and sometimes when people encounter its flaws for the first time, it’s difficult for them to reconcile with what they read in the Bible about loving other people. Some people believe they don’t need the church to grow in their faith, even though the Bible teaches otherwise (Heb. 10:25).
- They changed their mind about a social issue: The majority opinion on specific social issues often changes over time. Some Pentecostals, like people in any other Christian church, grow to share society’s opinion instead of the Bible’s teaching. For some, this is reason enough to leave Christianity altogether.
- They get hurt: Sometimes, people leave Christianity because other people hurt them. To these people, it feels safer not to attend any church than to attend a different one and make themselves vulnerable to more hurt.
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