This Pentecostal church receives us warmly. The greeter is an amazing ambassador and will interact with us several more times throughout the morning. He introduces us to the pastor’s wife and it’s not long before her husband seeks us out.
The pastor pointedly asks if we’ve ever been to a Pentecostal Church. When I say “no,” his eyebrows rise, but instead of sharing what he’s thinking, he merely smiles and asks for us to keep an open mind. Many more people welcome us, too. We’ve been to many friendly churches, but this one excels at pre-service interaction.
Throughout the service we’re encouraged to clap praises to God or express agreement. “Amens” are also solicited and heard but not as frequently. During corporate prayer everyone simultaneously prays aloud. The words I hear are in English, but I suspect some people are praying in tongues, too. Towards the end of the service the pastor moves into what sounds like a typical alter call, asking people to respond to his message of commitment; I’m perplexed when virtually everyone goes forward.
Next is a baptism; it symbolizes the washing away of sins. Immediately after the young man’s immersion, he’s instructed to pray for the Holy Spirit so he can speak in tongues. Family and friends gather round, laying hands on him and quietly praying. Though the focus shifts to other things, I keep watching the lad. Eventually I hear unfamiliar sounds coming from his direction. Apparently satisfied with the outcome, his smiling supporters return to their seats.
One person invites us back for the evening service, when “we Pentecostals will get wild.” That’s what I was expecting this morning, so some Sunday evening we may join them for the full Pentecostal experience.