By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
There is a hunger out there for charismatic Christianity, Mel Montgomery said. And this Joplin minister’s book and website help him make his point.
Montgomery, a native of Wichita, Kan., is not your typical Sunday morning preacher. He doesn’t hesitate to take the pulpit when called upon, such as at revival meetings, special church events and conferences.
His ministry, Mel Montgomery Communications International, has more to do with encouraging burned-out ministers. But there is another area where Montgomery has discovered a need: helping people return to original teachings of the Bible and basic Pentecostal practices.
“I think there is a turning that is happening in the charismatic branch of Christianity,” he said. “I think many people have grown so weary of the extreme teachings and the personal revelations and all of that that they are turning back to wanting just Bible teaching and the genuine move of the spirit of God.”
Montgomery encountered his first hint of this when he launched his website, www.brothermel.org, on Jan. 1, 2007. The idea behind the site was to provide access to many previously unheard sermons by such Pentecostal pioneers as Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts and Howard Carter, to name a few.
A great deal of the sermons were taken from the collections of the Rev. and Mrs. J.R. Goodwin, affectionately known as Mom and Dad Goodwin, who were Montgomery’s mentors. Many of those who ministered at the Goodwins’ church in Pasadena, Texas, were founders of the modern charismatic faith. The sermons had been recorded at the Goodwins’ church but never released to the public.
After the Goodwin family appointed Montgomery as the copyright agent for the recordings, the Joplin minister said it seemed the best way to get them out to the world was to create a website where people could download and listen to them.
The response was overwhelming -- not only from those who had a hunger to hear the preaching, but also from others who wished to send in their recordings.
“People from around the world started contacting me with rare recordings they had, including some individuals from Limerick, Ireland, who had old reel-to-reel Pentecostal recordings,” Montgomery said. “They just started coming in and the website expanded to where it is today with more than 4 million hits from individuals in more than 160 countries.”
That is astonishing to Montgomery, who said he knows evangelists on Christian television stations who have had only as many as 25,000 hits in five years on their websites. That is a number he often gets in a week.
Not only has Montgomery’s website grown, his podcast channel, “Voices of the Faith Giants,” has 32,000 subscribers; his YouTube channel includes 105,000 video views; and his book, “The Genuine Flow: How the Faith Giants Flowed in the Spirit and How You Can, Too,” earns new fans daily.
The book, which took three years to write and was published in 2010 by Xulon Press, is a biography of the Goodwins and an instruction manual concerning spiritual gifts. Montgomery said he was thrilled when contacted by a ministry, Reach Out for Christ International, to ask permission to use his book as a text in an Australian Bible school. The same ministry also plans to use his book in its other Bible school now being built in Kent, England.
The Australian school has 167 new ministerial students enrolled this year, with Montgomery’s book being used to teach gifts of the spirit.
The book is available on www.Amazon.com or through Montgomery’s website, as well as book distributors in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Whether through details and documentation in his book or via recordings on his website, Montgomery said he wants to communicate to people how the old-time Pentecostals preached, the way they presented the message and how all of that is so far-removed from what is being taught today.
“You didn’t have the incessant appeals for money or the extreme teachings like today,” he said. “Just a presentation of the gospel in a simple way, structured around Christ and the Holy Spirit.”