Authentic Pentecostalism has gone out of style for some folks in America but one preacher is determined to preserve its traditions and leave behind a wake of young Pentecostals.
"I started out as a Pentecostal preacher and I don't care how far out of style it gets, I'm going to end as a Pentecostal preacher," said the Rev. Don Nordin, senior pastor of Christian Temple Assembly of God, Houston, during the 2010 Assemblies of God Prayer and Bible Conference last week.
Born and raised in a Pentecostal home, Nordin sees Pentecostalism booming everywhere except in America. Though the Assemblies of God, one of the country's largest Pentecostal denominations, has seen membership gains for the past 19 years, the Holy Spirit-filled believers have been receiving some bad press lately.
Some Pentecostal leaders have been called out for lavish lifestyles, believers have failed to demonstrate the power of Pentecost, legalism has been championed, and "the quacks" have been allowed to continue, Nordin lamented.
"Some folks ... even in our ranks are running as far and as fast from the word Pentecost as they can possibly run," he said.
Nordin is not giving up. He wants Pentecostals to refocus on what he considers "authentic Pentecostalism," which includes speaking in tongues.
"I want to be able to hand off to them (young people) the heritage that I received," he told conference attendees. "If I become defensive about what I believe, just know it's because I don't want my son and these [young people] to stand in an Assemblies of God pulpit and be a Methodist or Baptist someday. I want this Pentecostal church to rise up ... and be authentically Pentecostal."
The first vital component to being an authentic Pentecostal is prayer, he asserted.
Nordin unashamedly holds firmly to the belief that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. But the third generation Assemblies of God preacher believes that the practice has been waning and that Pentecostal prayer traditions such as "praying through" for someone until they receive the gift of tongues have been lost.
"There is no substitute for praying in the Holy Ghost," he underscored. "The Spirit has a vocabulary that supersedes yours. The Holy Ghost wants to pray through his church again.
"You're an Assembly of God? Prove it. We've got Assemblies of God preachers that won't even give an altar call ... that don't feel comfortable praying for people to get the Holy Ghost."
Last year, the South Texas AG District Council, of which Nordin is a part of, introduced a resolution reaffirming the doctrine that "the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues."
Some leaders, including Nordin, regretfully felt tongues speaking was less prevalent today than in the past and that it was being deemphasized, and possibly even questioned.
The resolution was passed unanimously during the Assemblies of God General Council last year.
During the Jan. 5-6 conference, Nordin added that authentic Pentecostalism doesn't stop at speaking in tongues. It continues with power (witnessing), persevering and perpetuating another generation of Pentecostals.
"There has to be a rebirth of Pentecostalism in every generation of young people," Nordin stressed. "Don't let anybody ever talk you out of being Pentecostal."
The Assemblies of God claims more than 2.8 million followers.