Pentecostalism is a renewalist religious movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on the direct personal experience of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, Greek for the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which for Christians commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ as described in the Book of Acts, Chapter 2.
Pentecostalism is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of different theological and organizational perspectives. As a result, there is no central organization or church that directs the movement. Most Pentecostals consider themselves part of broader Christian groups. For example, Pentecostals often identify as Evangelicals. Furthermore, many embrace the term Protestant, while others prefer the term Restorationist. Pentecostalism is also theologically and historically close to the Charismatic Movement, which was influenced by the Pentecostal movement, and some Pentecostals use the two terms interchangeably.
Within Pentecostalism there are three major groups, Wesleyan Holiness, Higher Life, and Oneness. Examples of Wesleyan-Holiness denominations include the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The Assemblies of God and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel are of the Higher Life branch, while some Oneness denominations include the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) and Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). Many Pentecostal denominations are affiliated with the Pentecostal World Conference. Worldwide there are more than 250 million adherents to Pentecostalism. When Charismatics are added with Pentecostals the number increases to nearly a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians.
Theologically, some Pentecostal denominations are aligned with Evangelicalism in that they emphasize the reliability of the Bible and the need for the transformation of an individual's life with faith in Jesus. Pentecostals generally adhere to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, believing that the Bible has definitive authority in matters of faith, and adopt a literalist approach in its interpretation.
Pentecostal theology was shaped by the two movements it grew out of, the Wesleyan Holiness and the Higher Life revival movements. Participants in these movements believed that after the conversion experience (the first blessing) there was a “crisis experience of sanctification” or the second blessing. Wesleyan Holiness preachers taught that this experience would immediately eliminate sin in the Christian life, achieving “sinless perfection.” Higher Life Christians shared the belief in a second blessing. They understood it not as the total elimination of sin, but as “full consecration’ that empowered them for evangelism.” Early Pentecostals, therefore, understood Holy Spirit baptism as this second blessing and speaking in tongues as the physical evidence for this blessing.
From these two camps came Oneness Pentecostalism. While still believing in the earlier Wesleyan Holiness and Higher Life understandings of salvation, Oneness Pentecostals differ from Trinitarians in that they do not describe God in the manner of three personages but instead describe God in the manner of three manifestations. They believe the scriptural doctrine is that the three are manifestations or titles of one, indivisible God. They believe that God was manifest in the flesh as Jesus Christ.
See main article: Christian soteriology. Reflecting its Methodist influence, Pentecostal soteriology is generally Arminian rather than Calvinist. Pentecostals believe that in order to receive salvation and enter Heaven one must accept the teachings of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. This includes being born again or being regenerated and is the fundamental requirement of Pentecostalism. Most Pentecostals also believe that salvation is a gift received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and cannot be earned through good deeds alone (e.g. penance).
Pentecostals emphasize a salvation message based on Acts 2:38 which says "Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.'" Another passage used is John 3:3,5, "Jesus answered unto him, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"
See main article: Ordinance (Christian). Like other Evangelicals, Pentecostals believe that certain rituals or ceremonies were instituted by Jesus in the New Testament. Pentecostals call these ceremonies ordinances. Many Christians call these sacraments, however, this term is not used by Pentecostals as they do not see ordinances as imparting grace.
The ordinance of baptism is an outward symbol of an inner conversion that has already taken place. Infant baptism is not practiced as it is believed that the one being baptized must be able to make the decision to follow Jesus, but it is common for parents to have children dedicated to God though this is not seen as an ordinance. Communion was commanded by Jesus at the Last Supper to be done in remembrance of him. Pentecostals do not use wine but use unfermented grape juice instead. Foot washing is also a held as an ordinance. It is considered an "ordinance of humility" because Jesus showed humility when washing his desciples' feet in John 13:14-17.
Though not an ordinance, Pentecostals believe in the use of prayer cloths which are believed to transfer healing.
See main article: Spiritual gifts. The beliefs among Pentecostals are as varied and diverse as the number of denominations they have split into. However, all Pentecostals share a belief that all spiritual gifts described in the Bible are at work in the church at this present time.
While speaking in tongues frequently receives emphasis in Pentecostalism, most Pentecostals also acknowledge other supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most acknowledge that not all Christians receive all of these gifts. A frequently cited list includes words of wisdom (the ability to provide supernatural guidance in decisions), words of knowledge (impartation of factual information from the Spirit), faith, healing, miracle-working, prophecy (the pronouncement of a message from God, not necessarily involving knowledge of the future), distinguishing of spirits (the ability to tell if evil spirits are at work), tongues, and interpretation of tongues (Corinthians 12:8-11).
See main article: Glossolalia. Pentecostals are characterized by their practice of speaking in other tongues. A Pentecostal believer in an ecstatic religious experience may vocalize fluent unintelligible utterances (glossolalia) or articulate an alleged natural language previously unknown to the speaker (xenoglossy).
Pentecostals vary in their doctrinal beliefs respecting speaking in tongues. Following are some possible distinctions. First, there is the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is when a believer speaks in tongues for the first time, and is considered by some denominations to be the sign or evidence of that believer being filled with the Holy Spirit. Secondly, there is the gift of tongues. This is when a person is moved by God to speak in tongues "as the Spirit gives him utterance" (Act 2:4). The gift of tongues may be exercised anywhere, but many denominations believe that it must only be exercised with a person who has the gift of "interpretation of tongues" present whether that be another person or the one who gives the tongue. The interpreter may interpret the tongue into the language of the gathered Christians so that they can understand the message (Corinthians 14:13, 14:27-28).
Many Pentecostals, particularly after the growth and influence of the charismatic movement, believe that the gift of tongues is different than tongues as a prayer language or speaking in tongues (the unknown tongue). According to this view, speaking in tongues is an ecstatic utterance granted by God for prayer, and the gift of tongues is a rare miracle in which God enables a Christian to speak in a foreign language he has not previously studied in order to proclaim the Gospel. Other Pentecostals believe they are one and the same in which the gift of tongues is combining words from different languages (including that of angels) into a prayer language expressing the mysteries of God. Certain groups of Pentecostals emphasize the idea of speaking in tongues only when the Holy Spirit comes upon an individual, and have a problem with the idea of speaking in tongues "at will."
Early in the 20th century the majority of the Pentecostal missionaries, along with prominent Pentecostal leaders, maintained that speaking in tongues was a form of xenoglossia in which the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak in other languages. As continued investigations repeatedly concluded that speaking in tongues was a form of ecstatic utterance that lacked all syntactical structure and almost always consisted of syllables taken from the speaker's native language, Pentecostal theologians started to redefine their beliefs. Most now preach that speaking in tongues is a personal prayer language, glossolalia, and is, with the above exceptions, not xenoglossia.
Estimated to number around 115 million followers worldwide in 2000, Pentecostalism is sometimes referred to as the "third force of Christianity." The great majority of Pentecostals are to be found in developing countries although much of their international leadership is still in North America. The largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, the Assemblies of God, claims over 12,311 churches in the US and 283,413 churches and outstations in most countries, and approximately 57 million adherents worldwide. The largest single Pentecostal church in the world is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea. Founded and led by David Yonggi Cho since 1958, it had 780,000 members in 2003. According to a Spring 1998 article in Christian History, there are about 11,000 different Pentecostal or Charismatic denominations worldwide.
Pentecostal and charismatic church growth is rapid in many parts of the world. Jeffrey K. Hadden of the Department of Sociology at the University of Virginia collected statistics from the various large pentecostal organizations and from the work by David Stoll demonstrating that the Pentecostals are experiencing very rapid growth.  The movement enjoys its greatest growth in the global South, which includes Africa, Latin America, and most of Asia.  According to Christianity Today, Pentecostalism is "a vibrant faith among the poor; it reaches into the daily lives of believers, offering not only hope but a new way of living." In addition, according to a 1999 U.N. report, "Pentecostal churches have been the most successful at recruiting its members from the poorest of the poor."
With 5.5 million members, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the US is the Church of God in Christ. Other organizations in the US are the Assemblies of God, 2.5 million; the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, 1.5 million; and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), 870,000. The size of Pentecostalism in the US is estimated to be more than 20 million.
Pentecostal churches have seen rapid growth recently in Australia on the back of their massive popularity in the US and increasingly prominent members making their attendance known, such as former Australian Treasurer Peter Costello and Australian Idol contestants. Pentecostal churches are becoming increasingly market-savvy, with significant dollars expected to be spent on public relations, newspaper, TV and radio advertising. Australia's largest church, Hillsong, has membership exceeding 19,000. Its songs are sung in churches around the world. Hillsong is a member of Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God. In Sweden, the first Pentecostal church was the Filadelfia Church in Stockholm. Pastored by Lewi Pethrus, this congregation, originally Baptist, was expelled from the Baptist Union of Sweden in 1913 for doctrinal differences. Today this congregation has about 7,000 members and is the largest Pentecostal congregation in northern Europe. As of 2005, the Swedish Pentecostal movement has approximately 90,000 members in nearly 500 congregations. These congregations are all independent but cooperate on a large scale. Swedish Pentecostals have been very missionary-minded and have established churches in many countries. In Brazil, for example, churches founded by the Swedish Pentecostal mission claim several million members.
Pentecostals believe that the movement is faithful to the teachings and experience of the early church, specifically the day of Pentecost. They also believe that at other times in history Pentecostal-type experiences occured, however the beginning of the Pentecostal movement is generally considered to have begun at the Azusa Street Revival.
One such revival began with a Prussian Guards officer, Gustav von Below, in 1817. He and his brothers started holding charismatic meetings on his estates in Pomerania. A Lutheran commission sent to investigate was at first suspicious but found the phenomenon to be "of God." This led to a growth in charismatic meetings across Germany which quickly crossed the Atlantic during the great German migrations of the 19th century. The Pentecostal movement also became prominent in the Holiness movement, which was the first to begin making numerous references to the term "Pentecostal", such as in 1867 when the movement established The National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Christian Holiness with a notice that said: "[We are summoning,] irrespective of denominational tie...those who feel themselves comparatively isolated in their profession of holiness…that all would realize together a Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost..."
In the 1830s, a Presbyterian congregation in Scotland under the leadership of Edward Irving began to experience manifestations of tongues and prophecy. Certain men were appointed as apostles until the number reached twelve. Irving died, but the movement developed into what would be called the Catholic Apostolic Church, a name adopted from the Nicene Creed. Henry Drummond was, perhaps, the most influential man in the movement at its beginnings. He was sympathetic to the writings of the early church fathers, and the movement took on a highly liturgical flair, including influences from Eastern Orthodox liturgy. The movement grew to several hundred thousand in England, Germany, and some other parts of Europe. Though a splinter group in Germany did appoint new apostles and continue on, the English group did not. The last 'apostle', Francis Woodhouse, of the Catholic Apostolic Church died in 1901, just a few months after Agnes Ozman spoke in tongues in the United States.
In the 1870s there were Christians known as Gift People or Gift Adventists numbering in the thousands who were known for spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues. One preacher from the Gift People influenced A.J. Tomlinson, who would later lead the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). Though some have considered the 1896 Shearer Schoolhouse Revival in Cherokee County, North Carolina as the beginning of the modern Pentecostal Movement, the remoteness of the region very likely kept it as a localized event and thereby limited any possibility it may have had to impact the movement that came out of the later Azusa Street Revival.
Today's Pentecostal movement traces its community's growth to a prayer meeting at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas on January 1, 1901. Here many came to the conclusion that speaking in tongues was the biblical sign of the Holy Spirit's baptism. Charles Parham, the founder of this school would later move to Houston, Texas, where in spite of segregation, William J. Seymour, a (literally) one-eyed African-American preacher was allowed to listen in to the Bible classes. Seymour traveled to Los Angeles, where his preaching sparked the Azusa Street Revival in 1906. This was the first Pentecostal revival to receive attention, and many people from around the world were drawn to it. Consequently, this event is regarded as the actual beginning of the Pentecostal renewal because of the impact it had on the world. The Los Angeles Press gave close attention to the Azusa Street Revival, which helped fuel its growth. A number of new smaller groups started up, inspired by the events of this revival. International visitors and Pentecostal missionaries would eventually bring these teachings to other nations. Almost all classical Pentecostal denominations today trace their historical roots to the Azusa Street Revival.
Early Pentecostals were fueled by their understanding that all God’s people would prophesy in the last days before Christ’s second coming. They looked to the biblical passage of the Pentecost in Acts, in which Peter cited the prophecy in Joel 2, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”(NIV) Thus, when the experience of speaking in tongues spread among the men and women of Azusa Street, a sense of immediacy took hold as they began to look to the time when Christ would come again. Early Pentecostals also saw themselves as outsiders from mainstream society, dedicated solely to preparing the way for Christ’s return. 
Pentecostalism, like any other major movement, has given birth to a large number of organizations and denominations with political, social and theological differences. The early movement was countercultural, and African-Americans and women were important leaders in the Azusa Revival and helped spread the Pentecostal message beyond Los Angeles. As the Azusa Revival began to wane, however, doctrinal differences began to surface as pressure from social, cultural and political developments from the time began to affect the church. As a result, major divisions, isolationism, sectarianism and even the increase of extremism were apparent.
Some Christian leaders who were not a part of the early Pentecostal movement remained highly respected by Pentecostal leaders. Albert Benjamin Simpson became closely involved with the growing Pentecostal movement. It was common for Pentecostal pastors and missionaries to receive their training at the Missionary Training Institute that Simpson founded. Because of this, Simpson and the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), which Simpson founded, had a great influence on Pentecostalism, in particular the Assemblies of God and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. This influence included evangelistic emphasis, C&MA doctrine, Simpson's hymns and books, and the use of the term 'Gospel Tabernacle,' which evolved into Pentecostal churches being known as 'Full Gospel Tabernacles.' Charles Price Jones, the African-American Holiness leader and founder of the Church of Christ is another example. His hymns are widely sung at National Conventions of the Church of God in Christ and many other Pentecostal churches.
African-Americans played an important role in the early Pentecostal movement. The first decade of Pentecostalism was marked by interracial assemblies, "…Whites and blacks mix in a religious frenzy, …" according to a local newspaper account, at a time when government facilities were racially separate, and the Jim Crow laws were about to be codified. While the interracial assemblies that characterized Azusa Street continued for a number of years even in the segregated South, the enthusiasm and support for such assemblies eventually waned. After a while, the interracial assemblies were nearly non-existent in many Pentecostal churches.
See main article: Women in Christianity. Women were the catalyst of the early Pentecostal movement. Since Pentecostals believed in the presence and interaction of the Holy Spirit in their assemblies, and since these gifts came to men and women, the use of spiritual gifts were encouraged in everyone. The unconventionally intense and emotional environment dually promoted and was itself created by other forms of participation, such as personal testimony and spontaneous prayer and singing. Women did not shy away from engaging in this setting and in the early movement the majority of converts and church-goers were female. Since the movement relied on the efforts and participation of lay members, both in the church and outside, women gained great cultural influence and helped shape Pentecostalism. Women wrote religious songs, edited Pentecostal papers and taught and ran Bible schools. The availability of these opportunities to women from the start of the movement may explain the preponderance of female adherents in the movement. In addition, evidence from three of the oldest Pentecostal groups - Assemblies of God, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel - shows the numbers of women as clergy and missionaries. Shortly after the Assemblies of God formed in 1914, clergy rolls show that one-third of its ministers were women, and by 1925, though the number of female ministers had dropped significantly, still two-thirds of its overseas missionaries were women. When the Church of God was formed in 1906, one-third of its founders were women. When Aimee Semple McPherson started the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1927, single women were serving one-third of the church branches as pastors and married couples served as co pastors to another sixteen congregations.
Other aspects of Pentecostalism also promoted the participation of women. Pointing to the Apostle Peter’s proclamation of the biblical prophecy of Joel 2:28, Pentecostals focused on the end times during which Christ would return. Given that the baptism of the Holy Spirit led to speaking in tongues, whoever was blessed with this gift would have the responsibility to use it towards the preparation for Christ’s second coming.  Due to this responsibility, any restrictions that culture or other denominations placed on women were often disregarded in the early part of the movement. Joel 2:28 also specifically included females, saying that both sons and daughters and male and female servants would receive the Holy Spirit and prophecy in the end times. Thus, the focus on spiritual gifts, the nature of the worship environment, and dispensationalist thinking all encouraged women to participate in all areas of worship.
Like African Americans, women too were actively involved in the early Pentecostal movement and served as pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and in other leadership roles. Even before the Azusa Street Revival, women led their own revivals as a result of Agnes Ozman speaking in tongues at Parham’s Bible college. Mrs. Waldron and Mrs. Hall, for example, brought the Pentecostal message from Kansas to Zion, Illinois, where they ministered and later invited Parham to speak. Agnes Ozman herself evangelized throughout the Midwest after leaving Kansas. When Parham moved his ministry to Houston, Texas, eight out of the fifteen workers were women.
Other women who attended Bethel Bible College either invited or were sent by Parham to missions or churches to help strengthen local revivals. Furthermore, of the twelve elders whom Parham initially appointed to go to Azusa Street, six were women. While William J. Seymour is typically regarded as the leader of the Azusa Street revival, a number of women also contributed significantly to the revival, and depending on which firsthand accounts are considered, women’s leadership in the revival is either neglected or emphasized. More historical accounts have been available from men, and these authors tend to pose William J. Seymour as the principal leader, with other men like Charles Fox Parham and Edward Lee in important supporting roles but women like Julia Hutchins, Lucy Farrow, and Neely Terry deemphasized. On the other hand, the account of Mother Emma Cotton, pastor of a large Los Angeles Church of God in Christ congregation, reversed the relative importance of men with women. Regardless of who had the greatest share in leading the revival, it seems generally safe to conclude that the overall leadership at Azusa Street Revival was shared between women and men. It is interesting to keep in mind, too, that the idea of human leadership in the Pentecostal belief system is somewhat misplaced; participants considered the Holy Spirit the true leader, and themselves as the vessels through which he worked.
Women, of course, also came out of the Azusa Street Revival. Florence Crawford was a prominent convert of Azusa Street. While at the Azusa Mission, she was active in The Apostolic Faith newspaper and became one the first from Azusa to evangelize, primarily through the Midwestern United States. Later, she moved to Portland where she established the Apostolic Faith Mission and ministered. Clara Lum was also a significant figure of Azusa Street. Here, she co-edited The Apostolic Faith newspaper with Seymour. Ophelia Wiley also worked for The Apostolic Faith newspaper writing articles. She preached at Azusa and then evangelized throughout the Northwestern United States. Jennie Moore was an active leader of the Azusa Street revival who married Seymour and helped lead the congregation. Abundio and Rosa Lopez were active at Azusa and later led worship in the streets of the Hispanic sections of Los Angeles.  
Other evangelists and missionaries from Azusa Street include Ivey Campbell who preached throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania; Louisa Condit went to Oakland, California, and then Jerusalem; Lucy Leatherman evangelized in Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Chile and Argentina; Julia Hutchins evangelized in Liberia; and G.W. and Daisy Batman were missionaries in Liberia. Overall, about half of the traveling evangelists and overseas missionaries were women.  
Despite the leadership of women in the early movement, many were uncertain about the roles women held in this time and wavered in their struggle to gauge the proper role and position of women within their Pentecostal churches. In Women in Pentecostalism, Edith Blumhofer says of women’s participation, “the pastorate, not the pulpit, has historically been the obstacle for Pentecostal women seeking full ministry recognition.”
The freedom that women had in the early Pentecostal movement to hold more authoritative or official leadership positions declined for a number of reasons. During the early movement, the restorationist ideology – the impulse Pentecostals had to restore Christianity to a New Testament setting – suggested both liberated and restricted roles for women. While restorationism emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit and Joel’s egalitarian prophecy, it also had to consider the Apostle Paul’s writings in the New Testament. In doing this, restorationism also highlighted the seemingly contradictory nature of the theology regarding women’s roles. On the one hand, Paul’s instructions on propriety of worship in Corinthians 11 seemed to concede the existence of women prophesying and praying in the church. However, in other passages, namely Timothy 2:12, he warned that “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”(NIV)  
Thus, while the immediacy and the fervor of the initial revival atmosphere were subsiding, questions of authority and the organization of churches arose. Institutionalism took root. While it was clear that both men and women spoke in tongues, many started to see this gift as a non-intellectual one, and that more intellectual acts such as preaching should be undertaken by women only in conditions controlled by male leaders. The subsiding of the early Pentecostal movement allowed a more socially conservative approach to women to settle in, and as a result female participation was channeled into more supportive and traditionally accepted roles. Institutionalism brought gender segregation, and the Assemblies of God along with other Pentecostal groups created auxiliary women’s organizations. At this time, women became much more likely to be evangelists and missionaries than pastors, and when they were pastors, they often co-pastored with their husbands. It also became the norm for men to hold all official positions - board members, college presidents, and national administrators. While the early movement eschewed denominationalism because of the dead spirituality they saw in other Protestant denominations, later Pentecostal churches began to mirror the more traditional Evangelical community. Thus, the more democratic way of addressing others, whether male or female, lay person or leader, as either ‘brother’ or ‘sister’, gave way to more regular titles like ‘reverend.’  Today, however, some groups continue to ordain women. Culture also contributed to the restriction of women’s roles in Pentecostal churches. The social vision of women as the moral keepers of society began to fade as flappers in the 1920’s came on to the scene, provoking suspicions about women’s morality. Since Pentecostals wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from modernity, the ‘new woman’ was a fearful image and Pentecostals instead clung to more traditional views of women in the home and society. 
See main article: Charismatic movement. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Christians from mainline churches in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world began to accept the teaching that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is available for Christians today. Charismatic movements began to grow in mainline denominations. There were Charismatic Episcopalians, Lutherans, Catholics, and Methodists. During that time period, Charismatic was used to refer to these movements that existed within mainline denominations. Pentecostal was used to refer to those who were a part of the churches and denominations that grew out of the earlier Azusa Street revival. Unlike classical Pentecostals, who formed strictly Pentecostal congregations or denominations, Charismatics adopted as their motto, "Bloom where God planted you."
In recent decades many independent Charismatic churches and ministries have formed or have developed their own denominations and church associations, such as the Vineyard Movement. In the 1960s and still today, many Pentecostal churches were still strict with dress codes and forbidding certain forms of entertainment, creating a cultural distinction between Charismatics and Pentecostals. There is a great deal of overlap now between the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements.