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Photo Credit: The Elim Pentecostal Church
Photo Credit: The Elim Pentecostal Church
UK News

Q&A: Meet the new leader of the Elim Pentecostal Church

by Tola Mbakwe

The Elim Pentecostal Church has announced  Mark Pugh as the next general superintendent of the denomination.

Pugh will lead the Elim church movement and serve as chair of the Elim charity's board of trustees.

He will take the place of Chris Cartwright who has served two four-year terms from 2016 to 2024 and will formally leave his role in May.

Premier's Tola Mbakwe spoke with Pugh about his new role and what he’s looking forward to the most.

What is exciting you most about your new appointment? How do you feel about it?

“Well, I sense a real sense of appetite in our churches and in the nation for aligning with something fresh the Lord is doing. And I'm really looking forward to discerning and playing a part with all of our churches and leaders to step into that. God is preparing something fresh, I believe, for the nation. We're in challenging days, in so many ways. But there's a need for a church to rise up with great courage, great discernment, great understanding of what the Spirit is doing in these days. And I’m really looking forward to just serving our churches to help that process of discernment and stepping in courageously.”

You said the UK is in challenging days, what's one issue that you feel like the Church can really step up and respond to?

“Difficult to select one, isn't it?  There are so many areas that our society is in need of the Church to be a prophetic voice. There's so much pain, so much injustice, so much identity crisis around today, and the Gospel carries answers to all of those things. We have such a powerful, transformational message that has impacted our lives. In the Church, we need to fully engage with an understanding of what that message is and how it impacts our lives; we need to live it authentically. And there's a challenge in the day that we're all being brought up in, a culture that's increasingly secular. And I think it's really challenging for believers to align their own hearts with that discipleship journey and to step into the fullness of the Gospel themselves. I believe that we can't just tell people a message; we have to show people the transformational power of how it's impacting our lives. Sometimes I say that we're guilty in our evangelism, of inviting people to a party that we're not dancing at. And I really believe that this transformational message releases us; it brings fresh hope, a fresh liberation. And probably one of the most powerful things we can do is to live that, demonstrate that, and be countercultural in this secular narrative that we're in today. This consumer world offers so much but actually gives so little. And I believe that there are so many ways that the Church really needs to rise to full height right now.”

You have a background in youth work. Can you tell me a bit about that and how you may use some of that in your new role?

“Well, I believe that scripture talks about God being a God of the generations. From generation to generation, they shall tell him his works and declare his good deeds. And I believe that all are needed for that.  There isn't one particular grouping that has a special alignment in the heart of God. But I believe one of the pictures I saw a number of years ago was of the pyramid of champagne glasses. And it was each of the glasses was filled by the top glass being filled and just overflowing. And when I saw that, I just saw a picture of the generations. I saw a picture of how we're all needed in the kingdom, that it isn't just about releasing specialist youth workers, but it's about the oldest in our churches being filled and overflowing pour into the next generation. And if it stops before it gets to the youth, then we've missed it. If it stops before we get to the kids, we've missed it. We have to pour into them the fullness and the goodness of God. And I've loved being involved in youth work over the years. It's quite a while ago now, but I used to lead what's now called Limitless and just to see thousands of young people regularly engaging with God discovering him, coming alive with him, finding our identity in him, was a real joy. I believe that these days, our young people are growing up with so many complex issues, so many experiments thrown at them around identity and so on; I believe that the Church has a real call and a responsibility to see that go to the generations, to be filled, and to overflow. And I really pray in the years ahead that all of us can really cheer on our younger generation. They're facing things that we didn't face 30, 40 years ago, and they need us. They don't need just youth workers; they need the Church to be a family, to help them understand who they are, and to help them rise up into the fullness of what God's got for them as well.”

You spent some time on the national team, but then also focused on local ministry and the local church. How important would you say is the local church in the UK?

“It is the frontline of where God is working. And I believe wholeheartedly that within the Elim Pentecostal Churches, our strength is not our central organisation or our national ministries, our strength is the local church. And I believe in that so much; I'm still going to continue to oversee a local church as I take on this new role as general superintendent, but I believe that we need to do everything to make sure our organisations and our denominations are empowering the local church. We exist to serve the local church, the local church doesn't exist to serve these organisations. The local church is so critical and important, moving into the future, and I pray that we can put things in place as a denomination organisation that will help those local churches to be braver, to have an environment knowing that they're empowered to step out into the fullness of the mission God has called them, and they all look different.

"The churches, I think in today's world, they are understanding that not all of them look the same. There's no template, and their principles there are biblical principles. There are things that churches should inculcate, but the way they do that can be varied, and the context in which they do that is different. It's been a joy to see the rise of church plants in cities. But I believe we need lots of church plants in villages and towns and hamlets around the country, and they will never be massive churches. That's not the goal. The goal is to reach those communities. And they'll have different styles, different ways of doing things that will be appropriate in those contexts. And I hope that in Elim, we can create the language we're using, which is like an apostolic greenhouse that will help those churches rise and flourish and the congregations rise up into the call. We don't need people sitting in rows in churches singing songs on Sunday; we need people mobilised and equipped to reach their communities for Jesus."


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