The birth of Pentecostalism (1906) and the Charismatic movement (1960) are together a major turning point in the history of Christianity. Despite these being relatively historically-recent developments, their brief time on the scene have proved to be enormously significant for the spread of Christianity across the globe in the 20th century and beyond.
Pentecostalism got its start at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906, but the movement has grown so much in the last 100 years that its roots are remembered mostly by historians. It seems to me the average Pentecostal believer tends to look to the last one or two recent outbreaks of revival to interpret what it means to be pentecostal (of course the foundational event for this family of churches is the feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the nascent church as recorded in Acts 2).
More than 50 years later, the rest of evangelical Christianity was introduced to Pentecostal worship, theology, and practice through the charismatic movement. Pentecostal and charismatic believers have since become more than 500 million strong, representing approximately 25% of all Christians worldwide. If trends continue, then the face of Christianity in 2112 will look very different than in 2012. While I no longer consider myself a “charismatic Christian” (especially in my theology of the Holy Spirit), I certainly can appreciate the zeal and evangelical faith of my Pentecostal and Charismatic brothers. God is working in his church throughout the world, and we all can love and learn from each other.
Mark Noll, Christian historian and author of the excellent book Turning Points explains why Pentecostalism has been (and perhaps will be) so significant in the course of Christian history. See below for a summary of Noll’s treatment of the rise and spread of Pentecostalism, along with a few links for further reading.
Why Conversion and Revival Are Biblical by Tim Keller
Pentecostal History by the Association of Former Pentecostals
Church History and the Tongues Movement by George Dollar
Tongues Today? by O. Palmer Robertson
What Evangelicals Can Learn from Pentecostals, by J.R. Woodward