GodatworkInDenominations n BY DAVID WELLS
an ethos of Spirit and Power
A reflection on the character of the
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
Defining the spiritual ethos of a Pentecostal Assem- blies of Canada church is a daunting task. It’s like trying to describe Canadian culture, hindered by
the same geographic expanse and regional distinctiveness.
Perhaps it’s safest to start with this: Pentecostals value
the freedom to be able to follow the leading of the Holy
Spirit. From our beginnings in the Pentecostal awakening
of the early 1900s, we have held fast to the idea that obedience to the Spirit trumps ecclesiastical rules.
This shared value doesn’t always lead to a common approach on how we do church. It appears the Spirit does not
lead in the same direction in every location. This should
not surprise us given the church diversity pictured in the
Our church gatherings, preaching, programs and architecture vary greatly from community to community, but
there are common threads woven into the life of our PAOC
churches. At least they represent who we would like to
be at our best.
Earl Creps, visiting professor of leadership and spirit-
ual renewal at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary,
highlights one of these threads:
Pentecostals are not Evangelicals who speak in
tongues. When our hearts are soft, our experience
is about a kind of Spirit fullness that overflows
into our worldview, shifting it from Christian nat-
uralism toward Christian supernaturalism, and
shifting us from maintenance to mission. Pente-
costals are all about getting full of God so we can
announce that His Kingdom is the only real world
and that it’s arriving among us (Mike Yaconelli,
ed., Stories of Emergence, Zondervan, 2003).
This emphasis on mission is at the heart of our ethos.
We want to be filled with the Spirit so we can be empowered for service. One of the original reasons for establishing our fellowship of churches was for planting churches
and foreign missions.
Pentecostals long for the empowerment of the Spirit so
we can fulfill the Great Commission. Spirit baptism is for
us a sign of that empowerment – and tongues speaking,
the initial evidence of that sign. While Pentecostals talk
about wanting more of the Spirit, “what we really mean
is that He wants more of us. We must pour ourselves out.
In other words, more obedience,” explains Van Johnson,
dean of Master’s Pentecostal Seminary ( The Journey For-
ward, The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, 2006).