Common steps and sub-activities

Pentecostal Jericho marching

Few people would consider Pentecostal services as a form of tribal dancing, or imagine that they have anything in common with going to a gym and running with headphones on, but Pentecostal services are marked by their use of very very active participation – dancing.

Early Pentecostals placed a high emphasis on congregational participation. A distinctive feature of Pentecostalism today has been its evolution into a  "vibrant and kinetic worship style" characterized by "clapping, waving, and raising hands; dancing, marching, shouting; a call-and-response form of preaching and a general sense of spontaneity".  The "Jericho march" is one such traditional Pentecostal practice. The Jericho march involves a congregation marching with loud shouts of prayer and singing. Another practice in some Pentecostal churches is running the aisles.

The phrase "Quench not the Spirit", derived from 1 Thessalonians 5:19, has been used as justification for this style of worship, but the reality is that it is most effective at promoting spiritual experiences.

In some services there is also an element of hypnotic suggestion [repetition, chanting,  affirmation] that is also built in.

The result is a trance state.

Two of the most well known examples are  "dancing in the Spirit" and a form of prostration known as being "slain in the Spirit".

Dancing in the Spirit has been defined as, "a single participant spontaneously 'dancing' with eyes closed without bumping into nearby persons or objects, obviously under the power and guidance of the Spirit. . . . If the experience happens, it is because the worshipper has become so enraptured with God's presence that the Spirit takes control of physical motions as well as the spiritual and emotional being".

Slaying or resting in the Spirit (also known as "falling under the power") is a phenomenon in which a person falls (usually) backwards while being prayed over.

This form of experience has its critics.  While phenomena such as these have been present in Pentecostalism from the beginning, some members of the church roundly condemn the practises saying they have ‘no biblical legitimacy’. 

Except of course they have.

So you may go to one church and because the congregation frowns upon the whole process, you will see nothing.  Go to another church and it will be full of ‘slaying and dancing in the Spirit’.  Not wishing to be too stereotypical but churches with a high number of black people or churches in the poorer areas are likely to be a bit more spiritually inclined.