Although Pentecostalism shows few signs of decline in Latin America, one prominent denomination is seeing serious losses, and it may be because they are behind the curve in using technology and media.
For the first time since its inception, the Congregação Cristã in Brasil (CCB) has lost members— 200,000 members in the last decade—while other traditional Pentecostal churches’ membership continue to grow, writes Rubia Valente in the journal PentecoStudies (14.1). In 1991, CCB accounted for 20 percent of Pentecostals in Brazil, but since then this “proportion has been declining rapidly.” An analysis of baptism trends shows the CCB attracted new members until the end of the 20th century, when the trend started to decline. This pattern suggests that the church is not only losing members, but is also not gaining as many new members through baptism as it has gained in previous years, she adds.
In a survey of members conducted through social media networks, Valente finds that there are two opposing trends in the church: “fundamentalism” and “progressivism.” Progressive members criticize the church’s lack in use of media and technology, its non-involvement in children and youth ministries, and its disinterest in outreach programs.
The progressive dissatisfaction can also be seen in the “unprecedented numbers of schisms.” In recent years, the most significant was Congregacao Crista Ministerio Jandira, led by three former CCB elders. In two years, this splinter group has more than 220 churches in Brazil and abroad. One prominent leader, Joel Spina, who was also prominent in establishing CCB congregations in the U.S., has been outspoken in criticizing the church’s view that it is the manifestation of God’s grace on earth.