Why are Pentecostal Churches growing (in Sydney)?

The growth and dynamism of Pentecostalism in Australia is attracting attention, especially in the Sydney area and New South Wales writes Paul Oslington, a professor of economics who is himself an Anglican but teaches at Alphacrucis College, the national college of the Australian Pentecostal movement, for the Australian Broadcasting Company (August 26). Sydney is home to both Hillsong Church and Christian City Church (C3), two of the fast-growing Pentecostal/charismatic movements. These days, Sydney Anglicans are singing Hillsong and C3 music, Oslington notes. Pentscostals/charismatics are on their way to represent “the new normal” in Sydney church life.

The fast development of Pentecostalism has been obvious for a decade: nine years ago, religious affairs journalist Linda Morris had been reporting on a “Pentecostal revolution in the suburbs” (Sydney Morning Herald, June 28, 2007). Although Sydney Anglicans are strongly committed to evangelism, Pentecostals have overtaken Anglicans as Australia’s second largest religious group by attendance, behind the Catholic Church. But Oslington observes that there are other features worth noticing, starting with the fact that Pentecostals are the most racially diverse group. More unexpectedly, they have also overtaken Anglicans in educational attainment (measured by the proportion of degree holders among participants). This trend makes usual rationalization about the root of Pentecostal growth hard to maintain.

Oslington attempts to identify some of the factors that might explain Pentecostal growth. He identifies “empowered, visionary leadership matched with the skills to achieve growth” as possibly the most important reasons. He mentions that Alphacrucis offers a Master of Leadership and Doctor of Ministry for experienced pastors, while “the combined Bachelor of Ministry/Bachelor of Business is now the degree of choice for aspiring Pentecostal pastors,” thus exemplifying the mindset of Pentecostal leaders. Moreover Pentecostals are not hampered by heavy control exercised by church authorities. Pentecostal services are conceived as opportunities to engage with God, taking into account bodily and emotional dimensions. An additional asset of Pentecostals is cultural adaptability such as in the cases of migrants and marginal groups.

(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2016/08/26/4527401.htm)08PentecostalSydney