A Spirit of Revitalization
Urban Pentecostalism in Kenya
Studies in World Christianity
300 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9781481313551
- Published: October 2020
Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, Africa has generated unique expressions of Christianity that have, in their rapid development, overtaken older forms of Christianity represented by historic missionary efforts. Similarly, African Christianity has largely displayed its rootedness in its social and cultural context. The story of Pentecostal movements in urban Kenya captures both remarkable trends. Individual accounts of churches and their leaders shed light on rich and diverse commonalities among generations of Kenya’s Christian communities.
Exploring the movements’ religious visions in urban Africa, A Spirit of Revitalization: Urban Pentecostalism in Kenya highlights antecedent movements set against their historical, social, economic, and political contexts. Kyama Mugambi examines how, in their translation of the Gospel, innovative leaders synthesized new expressions of faith from elements of their historical and contemporary contexts. The sum of their experiences historically charts the remarkable journey of innovation, curation, and revision that attends to the process of translation and conversion in Christian history.
While outlining a century of successive renewal movements in Kenya between 1920 and 2020, the study also delves into features of recent urban Pentecostal churches. Readers will find a thorough historical treatment of themes such as church structures, corporate vision, Christian formation, and theological education. The longitudinal and comparative analysis shows how these Pentecostal approaches to orality, kinship, and integrated spirituality inform Kenyans’ reimagination of Christianity.
For many, Pentecostalism in Africa is an unwelcome North American import of televangelist Christianity on the one hand, or an escapist, super-spirituality that cares little about Africa’s social, economic and political needs on the other. Kyama Mugambi moves the narrative of African Pentecostalism beyond these incomplete storylines by giving us a picture of lived Pentecostalism in a key part of Africa today. Those who care about African Christianity and its future would do well to read this book. Readers will come away with an understanding of how the winds of the Spirit are blowing that is rich, learned, wise, nuanced, and deeply grounded in the author’s own experience.~Mark R. Shaw, Director of the Centre for World Christianity at Africa International University and author of The Kingdom of God in Africa: A Short History of African Christianity
Mugambi displays all the advantages of an insider perspective in this rich volume: unparalleled access to the Pentecostal churches he studies, deep knowledge of the social and theological concerns that animate them, and profound insight into their historical antecedents. A Spirit of Revitalization takes the reader inside the Pentecostal milieu in Kenya.~Emma Wild-Wood, Senior Lecturer in African Christianity and African Indigenous Religions and Director of Postgraduate Studies, University of Edinburgh
To me what stands out in Mugambi’s work are the stories, names, places, churches, and organizations in which the themes of orality, kinship, and worldview are generously referenced through a representative sketch in each chapter. To most Kenyans, the totality of these narratives constitutes a familiar lore, a lot like a much-loved item of clothing. In reading this book then, readers are invited to re-examine the now well-worn garment, not merely to get better acquainted with the energetic spirit of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity as it has evolved in Kenya through several generations, but also to locate specific elements this Christianity in Kenya’s changing world through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and hopefully, to orient new generations to figure out their own place in the next phase of the story.~Wanjiru M. Gitau, author of Megachurch Christianity Reconsidered: Millennials and Social Change in African Perspective