“Not by might, nor by power,
but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
How FGBMFI Was Used to Ignite the Historic Charismatic Renewal of the Church
Dr. Vinson Synan is a recognized historian with a Ph.D. in history from the University of Georgia, an author; he also served as founder and president of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, and he currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Charismatic Consultation on World Evangelization. He is also Chairman of the North American Renewal Services Committee and, as such, chaired the Great Congresses in New Orleans and Indianapolis. Dr. Synan has the following to say about the Full Gospel Business Men’s influence on the Charismatic Renewal:
“Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) is perhaps the largest and most important Christian laymen’s organization in the United States and the world. Begun in 1951 in a Los Angeles cafeteria by Demos Shakarian, an Armenian-American dairyman, by the late 1980’s it had grown to encompass over 3,000 Chapters in 117 nations of the world. Monthly attendance figures, however, vastly outstripped membership statistics. In America, no less than 500,000 persons attended monthly meetings, while world attendance totaled over 1,000,000 persons.
“The openness of the Fellowship to the charismatic renewal in the mainline churches after 1960 also created a historic role for FGBMFI as the chapters and conventions became major platforms for early leaders from all the churches including the Roman Catholics. Furthermore, FGBMFI’s Voice became the major publication of record for several years to those whose testimonies fueled the renewal both in America, and in other nations.
“Without them, it is doubtful if the Charismatic movement would have developed as broadly as it did, or as fast as it did. In fact, in 1945 all the Pentecostals or Charismatic Christians in the world numbered only 16 million persons. By 1992, that figure had ballooned to 411 million people making up about 25% of all the Christians in the world. A large part of that growth could be credited to the efforts of Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International.
“‘Here, for the first time, I saw mainline Christians prophesy, speak in tongues, and pray for the sick. It also was a personal turning point for me when I saw a Lutheran pastor receive the Pentecostal experience and speak in a tongue, which seemed to be a Middle-Eastern language. The fact that this happened in a hotel room also seemed incredible to me at the time. This was my first exposure to the Holy Spirit renewal in the mainline Protestant churches. It was two years later that I first came in contact with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana (which was started by FGBMFI).
“For me, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International was the first instrument that helped me see the wider work of the Holy Spirit in and through the entire Body of Christ.
“For this I will be eternally grateful.”
Dr. Vinson Synan