Written by Cara Davis.
Step into George Wood’s office on the executive floor of The U.S. Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center in Springfield, Mo., and you’re likely to see an assortment of souvenirs not uncommon for a well-traveled man of his age.
Every artifact in this office symbolizes part of a lifetime journey that’s brought him to this place and position – as head of the World Assemblies of God. From a boy born to missionary parents to China and Tibet to a man leading the largest Pentecostal organization in the world into the 21st century, George Wood’s story is one peppered with equal parts providence and preparation.
“If you look at the journey I took to get to this spot, there is no way I should be in this chair,” Wood says. “I can give you multiple reasons why I should not be in this office. But it’s like the Lord saw the desire of my heart. I took the text, ‘If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work’ (1 Tim. 3:1, KJV), and I believed that it wasn’t sinful to desire.”
Wood’s respect for the position he holds comes from his rich Christian heritage and a deep love for the people he leads today.
On the far wall of his office hangs a panorama of the Sun Moon Mountain Pass in the Xinghai Province in China – one of the locations his parents labored as missionaries for the Assemblies of God and where Wood spent his life until age 6. His parents served several terms in Northwest China and Tibet until Communism forced them out of the country – but not before planting a congregation of 200 souls. That congregation is 15,000 members strong today.
From there his parents pastored and pioneered several small churches in the States until settling in Springfield, Mo., as his father traveled as an evangelist.
Two phrases his mother taught Wood were foundational to his approach to life and ministry. “She would say, ‘If we stand before God, He won’t ask us if we’ve been successful. He’ll ask us if we’ve been faithful.’ The other thing she would say when I’d be upset was, ‘Now, Georgie, it won’t matter a hundred years from now.’ My parents really lived by the values that matter a hundred years from now.”
Wood’s parents laid a foundation for his four decades of Christian service—from pastor to professor and campus minister to denominational leader. Wood graduated from Evangel University (College) in Springfield, Mo., and then Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., in the height of the evangelical intellectual movement in the 60s. Wood would return to serve in several capacities at Evangel, including as director of spiritual life and student life from 1965-71.
He and his wife Jewel, who he met while at Evangel, have two children, daughter Evangeline and son George. They have two grandsons: 15-year-old Jacob and 4-year-old Reese.
Wood was ordained by the Southern Missouri District in 1967 and returned to California to pastor Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., which grew to approximately 2,000 under his jurisdiction of 17 years. He served as assistant superintendent of the Southern California District from 1988-93.
When his children left home he pursued a lifelong dream of obtaining a law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif.
He served as general secretary for the Assemblies of God for 14 years, and was the first secretary to be named general superintendent when he was voted in by the General Council in August of 2007.
As he was elected, Wood set the tone for his term. He said, “We’re going to run on five core values, and everything we do has to relate to these five things”:
- passionately proclaim Jesus by word and deed at home and abroad
- vigorously plant new churches and revitalize existing ones
- strategically invest in the next generation
- skillfully resource the fellowship
- fervently pray for God’s favor and blessings as we serve Him with pure hearts and noble purpose.
“Everything we do here relates to those values.”
Preparing the Next Generation
His life’s work is all about getting people back to the Bible – back to real relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. While the methods change over the years, the message stays the same. To help him keep that perspective at the forefront, Wood keeps his father’s antique typewriter next to his keyboard.
“I learned to type on that typewriter, and I keep it next to my computer to remind me how important it is to change,” Wood said. “When things are changing you’ve got to change as well – if we stayed with the typewriter where would be today?”
It’s that approach – clear-headed thinking, common sense and reliance on the Holy Spirit – that Wood relies on for success in ministry. With one hand pulling from the rich history of the Assemblies of God and one hand reaching to the future of the movement, Wood’s vision as CEO of the Assemblies of God is bringing the church with more than 12,700 congregations and more than 3 million members and adherents in the States into the 21st century.
Wood has a number of books to his credit including Road Trip Leadership, Living in the Spirit, A Psalm in Your Heart, Living Fully and The Successful Life. And if you’re ever in Springfield and stop by his office, he might give you a copy – after his office tour, of course.
For transcripts of, or to listen to Dr. Wood’s sermons click here.