Churchgoers have many more options today when it comes to identifying with a denomination, organization or even a local church. There is a growing attractiveness to independent groups, and people ask, “Why do we even need to belong to a denomination?” Often it stems from an attitude that says, “What can you do for me?”
I can remember as a young minister awakening to the fact that the Assemblies of God was not the only thing in the kingdom of God — but then realizing it was still a good thing.
When I graduated from seminary, the Assemblies of God was not the 65 million people strong we are today. We had closer to 5 million people back then.
I had opportunities to go in other directions but what kept me tethered to the Assemblies was its mission, doctrine, fellowship and accountability.
I believe in the mission of the Assemblies of God which was stated in our second general council in Chicago in 1914, and that is “to do the greatest work of evangelism the world has ever seen.” I believe in our mission of building the indigenous church worldwide and having a worldwide footprint. I believe in our doctrine. I love the Assemblies for the relationships and for the accountability. No Christian is designed to live the Christian life alone. We all need other people for encouragement, correction and relationship.
Diversity in Style
We’re not as monochromatic as we once were. When I was younger, you could go anywhere in the United States and the Assemblies of God services were the same; the whole culture was the same. Today, we are incredibly diverse, even in the Anglo community. You can go from church to church and you’d find different styles and different approaches, but we’ve grown in terms of diversity, ethnicity and culture. The Assemblies of God today is 40% ethnic minority in the United States, and that wasn’t the case when I was young.
We’ve always had a vigorous youth movement and I think that continues, but diversity in style is part of our DNA. You can go to the AG churches in the greater Springfield area where I live, and you will find a huge variety of style and approach and preaching styles. We don’t try to make our churches cookie-cutter.
Even among leading organizations, we’re growing faster. Let me give you a thumbnail sketch. Every 16 seconds somewhere around the world, somebody’s coming to faith through an Assemblies of God church or ministry. Every 42 minutes somewhere in the world a new Assemblies of God church is being born.
When I say that, it’s not from a standpoint of pride. When I look at the growth of the Assemblies of God worldwide it’s stunning. When you look at it in the U.S. and we find ourselves continually either in the lead or among the leading growing denominations, it’s very humbling. It’s cause for gratitude.
I believe it’s the Holy Spirit at work.
Church planting and church revitalization are key to future growth. In the last five years, 1,597 new churches have been planted. Good things are happening.
The Assemblies of God has a demonstrated record of success. No other group in the world is growing faster than the AG or has a broader footprint, especially among unreached people groups. Nearly half of our missionary force is establishing first generation churches. The excitement of that is enormous. Our aim has always been doing the work of global evangelism.
So for those who are weighing the decision of becoming part of the Assemblies of God, it comes down to this: Over the course of your lifetime, do you want to plug into something that’s working? Do you want to be part of the global movement?
Over the years at the Assemblies of God National Offices here in Springfield, we occasionally receive mail addressed to the “Assemblies of Good.” It always makes me chuckle, but I like to think that that’s one of our goals as well. To do the greatest work of evangelism, and to do the most “good” the world has ever seen.