In the 1960s a new form of Christianity – the Pentecostal, or charismatic, movement – was adopted by people in a range of churches. This movement emphasised gifts of the Holy Spirit (such as prophecy and healing) given to ordinary people and led to a new range of organisations and leaders untroubled by the traditional divide between Catholics and Protestants. These ‘trans-denominational’ movements included the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, Aglow, Christian Advance Ministries, Children’s Bible Crusade, Faith Bible College and Teen Challenge.
God on the airwaves
The Christian Broadcasting Association was formed in the mid-1960s and began commercial radio broadcasts on Radio Hauraki and then on the ZB network. In the 2010s it broadcast throughout the country on NewstalkZB, Radio Sport and RadioLIVE, as well as online. Radio Rhema began more evangelical Christian broadcasts in Auckland 1978 and later broadcast in other parts of the country. In the 2010s Rhema Media oversaw four national radio networks and a television station, Shine TV. It had also launched United Christian Broadcasters, an international media group with affiliates in Australia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
The Assemblies of God, the Apostolic Church and the Elim church were the initial strong ‘brands’ of charismatic Christianity. In the early 21st century Christian Life Centres, Christian City Churches, Vineyard Churches and Destiny Church expanded at the expense of these older groupings.
Charismatic speakers and leaders included more women than earlier movements, reflecting the notion of the universal gift of the Holy Spirit, and changing social circumstances. Evangelists and speakers included Peter Morrow, Rob Wheeler and Cecilie Graham. There were some notable musicians, including David and Dale Garrett in whose ‘Scripture in Song’ music simple biblical words were sung to contemporary rhythms.
The most influential organisations were American imports, including Youth With a Mission, which came in 1967. Christian Advance Ministries, which included Anglicans, Catholics and Pentecostals, held large summer conferences from 1972, but was eventually replaced by separate denominational bodies.
Modern charismatic movement
By the 21st century the charismatic movement had declined. However, some Pentecostal denominations (notably Destiny Church) are very successful. The largest congregations in New Zealand today are so-called ‘mega churches’ – either charismatic churches in mainstream denominations or branches of Pentecostal churches. Some of these churches, including Life Church in Auckland, Arise Church in Wellington and Grave Vineyard in Christchurch, have congregations of up to 5,000 people.