Review: Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass

00126_Kruger

Kruger, Joan with Dr. Burdette Leikvoll. Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass. Overland Park, KS: iCross Publishing, 2014.

Veteran author and Assemblies of God minister Joan Kruger has written a new book, Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass, that challenges and encourages pastors to be true to their calling. Assemblies of God General Secretary Dr. James Bradford, in his endorsement of the book, wrote the following:

“Spiritual leaders face a bewildering array of forces, pressures, expectations, and personal issues–making them vulnerable to exploitation by the enemy.  As a result, too many have lost their internal compass and been knocked off course.  Joan Kruger addresses the supreme challenge of maintaining pure devotion to the person of Christ while being involved in the demanding task of doing the work of Christ.  She writes with honesty and yet compassion.  The Spirit’s cry for Christ’s under-shepherds comes through her writing with clarity and conviction.  May this book help you and the pastors you love stay authentically true to their ordination covenants.”

Paperback, 176 pages. $14.95 retail. Order from:
Treasures in Parchment
Joan Kruger
702 Valley View Rd #2
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
wjkruger@q.com
417-459-2631

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Spirituality

Dr. Stanley M. Horton (1916-2014), Bridge Builder and Servant

Horton COGIC

This photo shows Dr. Stanley M. Horton at Timmons Temple COGIC (Springfield, MO) in 2009 telling the story of his mother’s Spirit-baptism at the interracial Azusa Street Mission as a little girl. I was present and can testify that everyone was listening with rapt attention. The service, part of a three-day event, “A House No Longer Divided,” brought black and white Pentecostals together on April 13-15, 2009, remembering the unlikely dual anniversary of the beginning of the Azusa Street Revival and the Springfield Lynching. Both happened on April 14, 1906. This is one of my favorite pictures of Dr. Horton, because it captures his Pentecostal identity, rooted in the iconic Azusa Street Revival, and it shows his calling to teach, not just in the academy, but to those in the pew.

Dr. Stanley M. Horton (1916-2014), who went to be with the Lord yesterday at age 98, was a bridge builder. He built bridges across the racial, denominational, and academic divides. He was one of the Pentecostal movement’s most revered scholars, one of its most prolific authors, and one its most respected educators. His theological writings shaped generations of Pentecostals. But Stanley, to those of us who knew him, possessed something much greater than his Harvard degree. He was a gentle, humble, loving Christian man. He was a man of impeccable integrity. He loved his wife, Evelyn, and his children. He loved his students. He took time for everyone.

I am grateful that he poured himself into countless thousands of students who are now pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and educators. I am grateful for the late evenings he spent for 25 years, authoring the Adult Sunday School curriculum for the Assemblies of God. I am grateful for his numerous theological volumes. Stanley went home to be with the Lord, but his influence continues to be profound through the lives of those he discipled — in person and through the printed word.

Just seven weeks ago, Dr. Horton deposited his personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The collection consists of correspondence, class notes as a student and as a professor, his writings, and other materials related to his leadership in the church and the academy. Future researchers, students, and church leaders will have access to his thoughts for years to come.

Dr. Horton’s obituary is accessible on the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary website. Please take time to leave a personal note for the family. Dr. Horton was a giant, not because of his impressive achievements, but because he embodied what it meant to have a servant’s heart. I pray that his legacy of godliness and servanthood will live on in future generations of Pentecostal scholars.

–Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D.
Director, Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

______________

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

 

1 Comment

Filed under News

Pentecostal Mexican Refugees Minister to African-Americans in Texas in 1922

Seventh annual convention of Latin-American Pentecostal workers meeting in San Jose, California in 1923. Attendees included H. C. Ball (back row, far left), Alice Luce (2nd row, far right), Juan Lugo, Domingo Cruz, Luis Caraballo, S. Nevarez, George Blaisdell, and L. Rodriguez.

This Week in AG History–July 8, 1922
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 07 Jul 2014 – 4:03 PM CST.

Over one million refugees from the Mexican Revolution came to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many of the newcomers lived in makeshift camps, rife with disease and crime, located along the borderlands. Overwhelmed by this humanitarian crisis, local residents often did not know how to react. Social and political tensions flared in Texas and elsewhere.

The small town of Edna, Texas, was home to an early Assemblies of God congregation of Mexican refugees, whose members engaged in evangelistic work to African-Americans, even while their own legal status was uncertain.

Isabel Flores, a prominent Pentecostal leader among the Mexican refugees, was arrested in May 1918 and incarcerated in the Jackson County jail in Edna. The reason for the arrest is unknown. An account published in 1966 in La Luz Apostolica simply stated, “It was wartime, and the officer did not speak Spanish and Isabel did not speak English.” Henry C. Ball, an Assemblies of God missionary to the Mexicans, came to the aid of Flores. Ball traveled to Edna, where he spoke with the authorities and secured the prisoner’s release.

This brush with the law demonstrated that it was advantageous for Mexican immigrants to work with Americans. Earlier that year, Flores and Ball together had organized the Latin American Conference (later renamed the Latin American District), which brought existing Mexican Pentecostal congregations into the Assemblies of God.

Ball’s status as a native-born American, however, did not prevent him from encountering problems. The Assemblies of God, like many other premillennial American evangelicals, took a pacifist position during World War I. Ball’s work with Hispanics and his church’s pacifism caused government officials to view him with suspicion. Ball was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, on suspicion of being a German spy, but he was soon released.

As superintendent of the Latin American Conference, Ball traveled extensively and ministered among the Mexican immigrants, who formed Asambleas de Dios congregations across America.

In 1922, Ball returned to Edna, Texas, where he found an unexpected surprise. In a July 8, 1922, article in the Pentecostal Evangel, Ball reported that the Hispanic congregation maintained an active outreach to African-Americans, despite the language barrier.

The congregation met for worship in a private home located about three miles from Edna. Ball noted that about 30 Mexicans gathered for worship in a large room, and that an additional group of African-Americans joined them. The African-Americans, Ball observed, “have learned to sing the Spanish songs with the Mexicans, even though they know very little Spanish.”

Ball stated that the African-Americans “are anxious to hear Pentecost preached in their own language.” He lamented that “a white man could hardly preach to them in this part of the country,” presumably referring to Jim Crow laws that prevented whites and blacks from mixing.

The Mexican refugees could have used their own plight as an excuse to keep to themselves and to concentrate on building up their own community. But this marginalized group instead reached out to others who were likewise excluded from the benefits of mainstream American culture. Instead of dwelling on what they could not do, they found an area of ministry in which they had an advantage over white Americans. The Mexican immigrants were not subject to Jim Crow laws and could freely minister to African-Americans. When the Mexican immigrants sought to share God’s love with others, their seeming cultural disadvantage became an advantage.

Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Work Prospering on the Mexican Border,” on page 13 of the July 8, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Whose Faith Follow: Important Lessons Learned from a Pentecostal Revival [Irvingites] of Nearly a Hundred Years Ago,” by A. E. Saxby

* “Very Fine Needlework,” by Grace E. Thompson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read about the arrests of Isabel Flores and H. C. Ball in “Historia de los Primeros 50 Años de las Asambleas de Dios Latinas,” on pages 2 and 12 of the April 1966 issue of La Luz Apostolica.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

1 Comment

Filed under Missions

Eudorus Neander Bell: Pentecostal Statesman


This Week in AG History–June 30, 1923
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 01 Jul 2014 – 1:17 PM CST.

Eudorus Neander Bell’s name was not the only thing about him that stood out. Better known as E. N. Bell (1866-1923), he served as first chairman (this title was later changed to general superintendent) of the Assemblies of God. He and his twin, Endorus, learned to work hard at a young age. Their father died when the boys were two years old, and they had to help provide for the family.

A sincere and studious Christian, E. N. Bell felt a call to the ministry at a young age. However, his family’s poverty meant that this calling would be postponed. He dropped out of high school and instead worked to put bread on his family’s table. At times, the only bread he could afford was stale and had to be dipped in water to be edible. Finally, at age 30, he achieved a longtime dream and graduated from high school.

Bell proved to be an adept student. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Stetson University, attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville from 1900 to 1902, and received a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School (then a Baptist school) the following year.

He pastored Baptist churches for about 17 years. Despite success in the ministry, Bell was hungry for more of God. After he heard about the emerging Pentecostal movement in 1907, he took a leave of absence from his church in Fort Worth, Texas, and traveled to William Durham’s North Avenue Mission in Chicago to wait upon the Lord. He prayed expectantly for 11 months, until he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on July 18, 1908.

Bell described his Spirit baptism in a testimony published five months after the experience: “God baptized me in His Spirit. Wave after wave fell on me from heaven, striking me in the forehead like electric currents and passing over and through my whole being…. [The Spirit] began to speak through me in a tongue I never heard before and continued for 2 hours…. After 3 months of testing, I can say before God, the experience is as fresh and sweet as ever.”

Bell traveled back to the South, uncertain what his next steps should be. He ministered across the South, seeking God’s will for his life. Then, in 1909, God answered two prayers. At age 44, Bell finally married. He also became pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Malvern, Arkansas. He began publishing a monthly periodical, Word and Witness, which became a prominent voice within the young Pentecostal movement.

In 1913, Bell published the “call” to Hot Springs. Those who attended the April 1914 meeting in Hot Springs organized the Assemblies of God and elected Bell to serve as its first chairman. Bell, a Pentecostal statesman with a pastoral heart, proved a wise choice. He helped to lay the theological and organizational foundation for the young fellowship

J. Roswell Flower wrote that Bell was the “sweetest, safest and sanest man” he had ever met in the Pentecostal movement. According to Flower, Bell was “a big-hearted man” and took time to pray with the sick and tend to other pastoral duties, despite the numerous pressures of his office. He slept little, traveled much, and wrote constantly. He did all this “without murmur or complaint.” Flower noted that Bell looked much older than his 56 years. “He grew old in the service,” Flower wrote. “He had purposed in his heart that he would give all that was in him for the faithful performance of the work that had been allotted to him.”

Bell’s health broke, so he stepped down as chairman in November 1914. He returned to the pastorate but remained active as an executive presbyter and editor of the Weekly Evangel andWord and Witness. He was elected as chairman again in 1919 once he had recovered. He intended to leave office in 1924 and to pour himself into budding ministers by teaching at the newly-formed Central Bible Institute.

Bell’s work ethic took a toll on his health. He literally worked himself to death, dying in office on June 15, 1923. Tributes to the fallen leader were published on six pages of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Early Pentecostals taught that those who truly had Christian love would lay down their lives for one another (1 John 3:16). So perhaps it should not be surprising that the first chairman of the Assemblies of God did just that.

Read tributes to E. N. Bell on pages 1 through 6 of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Many Members, One Body,” by Zelma Argue

* “On the Top of the World,” by Victor G. Plymire

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Spirituality

The Open Bible Council


This Week in AG History–June 24, 1916
By William Molenaar

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 23 Jun 2014 – 3:13 PM CST.

In the early days of the modern Pentecostal movement, controversies raged over the nature of tongues, sanctification, water baptism, and the Trinity. Many local churches and pastors operated independently, with little accountability, and did what was right in their own eyes. The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 in part to bring unity, stability, and accountability to churches within the Pentecostal movement. However, the first General Council decided not to create a binding statement of faith.

The emerging Oneness movement (also called the “New Issue”) forced the Assemblies of God to reconsider its decision to be non-creedal. Advocates of the New Issue were teaching that believers must be baptized in the name of Jesus based on the narrative of Acts, rather than using the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” They further rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and understood the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit not as persons of the godhead, but rather as different manifestations of the one personal God. As a result, some Oneness believers asserted that no distinctions existed between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The young Assemblies of God was compelled to define its doctrine and to create organizational mechanisms to ensure accountability. Chairman J. W. Welch, in the June 24, 1916, editorial of theWeekly Evangel, issued a call to ministers to attend a third General Council of Assemblies of God. Welch desired unity and decried the strife and contentions among Pentecostals. He pointed out the need for “scriptural unity, order and government in the church.” Welch referred to the council as “an OPEN BIBLE council,” asking that those who attend to base their decisions squarely on the Bible.

Welch reassured readers that the meeting would not seek to create a sect or denomination. Doctrinal confusion was at hand, and he pleaded with those attending the next General Council to strive for unity and harmony, while discerning what is truth and what is error according to the Word of God. What resulted? The 1916 General Council adopted the Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Read the entire editorial by J. W. Welch on pages 3 and 7 of the June 24, 1916, issue of theWeekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Christians in India Are Given ‘Gift of Tongues,'” by William T. Ellis.

* “Some Good Things to Remember,” by Mrs. P. M. (Agnes Ozman) LaBerge.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Church, Theology

P.C. Nelson on the Value of a Liberal Arts Education


This Week in AG History–June 16, 1934
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 16 Jun 2014 – 4:12 PM CST.

Peter C. (“P. C.”) Nelson, an Assemblies of God educator and theologian, made an eloquent plea for Pentecostal schools to develop curriculum in the liberal arts and to train students for non-ministry vocations in a 1934 Pentecostal Evangel article. Up to that point, all Assemblies of God colleges focused on the training of people for ministry. Nelson noted that increasing numbers of Assemblies of God young people have an “anointing of the Spirit for doing a worthy work in other fields besides that of the ministry.”

Nelson warned readers that the “moral and spiritual conditions in most schools and colleges” cause many Pentecostal young people to abandon the faith. “If we want our young people to remain loyal to our movement,” Nelson wrote, “our fellowship must provide instruction for them along all branches of study.” He envisioned new courses that would train teachers, musicians, businesspeople, stenographers, accountants, engineers, architects, carpenters, masons, auto mechanics, and printers.

Where would this new liberal arts school be located? Nelson suggested that Central Bible College, the national ministerial training school of the Assemblies of God, located in Springfield, Missouri, would be an ideal location. He recommended that its facilities be enlarged so that it could train even more ministers and also add a liberal arts curriculum.

Nelson was not alone in his support for the development of Pentecostal liberal arts education. His article received the unanimous support of the Executive Presbytery. There was a growing recognition that the Assemblies of God should develop educational programs for training young people in fields other than vocational ministry. Nelson began his article by pointing out that the Assemblies of God constitution, adopted in 1927, included the following paragraph: “The General Council shall be in sympathy with the establishment and maintenance of academic schools for the children of our constituency.”

Although Nelson did not mention it in his article, this vision for a Pentecostal liberal arts curriculum dated back to the founding of the Assemblies of God. The “Call to Hot Springs” — the open invitation to all Pentecostal “elders, pastors, ministers, evangelists and missionaries” to attend the first general council of the Assemblies of God — enumerated five purposes for the meeting. The fifth purpose was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was a 19th and early 20th century term that roughly corresponds to “liberal arts” today.

Nelson’s call for Central Bible College to train ministers alongside laypersons was not realized during his lifetime. However, other Assemblies of God Bible schools began expanding their curriculum. North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University, Minneapolis, Minnesota) added a two-year business college in 1938. Southwestern Bible College (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas), the school founded by Nelson, opened a junior college in 1944. Northwest Bible Institute (now Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington) also added a junior college in 1955. That same year, the Assemblies of God established its new national liberal arts school, Evangel College (now Evangel University), in Springfield, Missouri.

Nelson encouraged readers to invest in Assemblies of God young people who possess “real sterling character, native ability, and spirituality.” The value of Pentecostal schools, asserted Nelson, “exceeds the cost…No investment will pay a larger dividend.”

Read the entire article by P. C. Nelson, “Enlarging Our Educational Facilities,” on page 7 of the June 16, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Finishing Our Course,” by Zelma Argue

* “Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?” by Otto J. Klink

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Education

Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released

Water baptism, 2013. Bread of Life Christian Church (Rogersville, Missouri), a growing Slavic congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

This water baptism was performed in 2013 by the pastors of Bread of Life Christian Church (Rogersville, Missouri), a growing Slavic congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

The Assemblies of God (AG) is one of the few major denominations in the United States to show continuing growth. The AG has now experienced 24 consecutive years of growth in the number of U.S. adherents, according to a press release from the AG National Leadership and Resource Center in Springfield, Missouri. The article compares the AG’s growth to the “declining attendance for many other North American evangelical denominations.”

The 2013 Full Statistical Report was not posted on the AG website as of today (6/16/14), but the article provided the following notable statistics for calendar year 2013. For comparative purposes, statistics from 2008 and 2012 are also provided here.

U.S. Stats             2008             2012            2013     2012-13 Growth

Adherents                   2,899,702       3,095,717        3,127,857        1.0%

Churches                     12,377              12,722               12,792               0.6%

Membership              1,662,632        1,780,468        1,805,381        1.4%

Major Worship

Service Attendance  1,799,987       1,880,269      1,918,686        2.0%

Water baptisms          114,091           131,713           137,375           4.3%

Spirit baptisms            85,667             81,345             83,731             2.9%

Conversions                 441,377           453,496          456,395         0.6%

Credentialed ministers34,178           35,867             36,434           1.6%

Worldwide Stats       

Adherents                   61,550,938      66,383,778      67,512,302      1.7%

Preaching Points         332,411           362,791           366,105           0.9%

The AG is growing at a faster rate than the U.S. population, which increased by 0.7% in 2013. The number of U.S. adherents has been increasing at a relatively steady pace — at an average of 1.6% per year since 1989, and 1.5% per year since 2008.

In recent decades, most mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have witnessed significant numerical declines. From 1960 to 2011, the United Church of Christ lost 48% of adherents; The Episcopal Church lost 43%; the Presbyterian Church (USA) lost 35%; the United Methodist Church lost 29%; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 19%. Others showed increases, including the Southern Baptist Convention (66%) and the Roman Catholic Church (62%). During the same period, the Assemblies of God grew by 498%, from 508,602 members in 1960.

While mainline denominations have been declining for decades, in the past few years some evangelical groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), have also begun to decline. SBC leaders recently have shown alarm over deceasing numbers of baptisms and conversions. The number of SBC baptisms has declined for seven straight years.  This demographic decline has caused some pundits to predict the slow death of evangelicalism.

Robust growth of Pentecostal churches, including the Assemblies of God, shows a different story. All statistics released in the article — water baptisms, Spirit baptisms, membership, attendance, conversions, and numbers of adherents, churches, and ministers — increased last year in the AG. Other categories, including attendance at Sunday evening and midweek services, were not included in the article and presumably declined. The AG press release attributes much of the growth to increases in ethnic minority churches and young people: “The impact is especially evident among Latino adherents, who now make up 20 percent of the Fellowship (more than 40 percent of total adherents are ethnic minorities), and Millennials (ages 18-34), who contributed 21 percent of the growth from 2001-2013.”

The breakdown of the 2013 numbers will be available in the yet-to-be-released Full Statistical Report. But the 2012 report shows the AG’s significant ethnic diversity: Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%); Black (9.8%); Hispanic (21.7%); Native American (1.4%); White (59.2%); and Other /Mixed (3.5%). These stats suggest that the AG closely mirrors the ethnic makeup of the U.S. population as a whole. The 2010 U.S. census revealed the following racial breakdown of the U.S. population: Asian/Pacific Islander (5%); Black (12.6%); Hispanic (16.3%); Native American (0.9%); White (63.7%); and Other /Mixed (6.2%).

Much of the numerical growth in the Assemblies of God in recent decades has been among ethnic minorities. From 2007 to 2012, the number of AG adherents increased by 8.1%. During this period, the number of white adherents increased by 1.6% and the number of non-white adherents increased by 19.2%. This demographic shift continued from 2011 to 2012, and the percentage of white adherents dropped from 59.6% to 59.2%. When the 2013 Full Statistical Report is released, it is likely to reveal that this demographic shift continued apace in 2013.

The AG’s growth in America is partly due to immigration. The Assemblies of God is a global church. About 1% of the world’s population is AG. Only 5% of AG adherents worldwide live in the U.S. Pentecostals who move to America from other regions of the world often bring with them a faith, burnished by persecution and deprivation, that is an important part of their identity. Pentecostal refugees who move to America are like pollen scattered by a strong wind — they plant churches wherever they happen to land. Strong African, Slavic, Asian, and Hispanic AG churches are taking root in American soil, and their congregations sing, preach, and testify in the tongues of their native countries.

Interestingly, this demographic shift is also helping to usher in a global re-alignment of Christianity. Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are generally evangelical in belief, if not Pentecostal in worship, and often have much more in common with their brothers and sisters in the Assemblies of God than they do with liberal members of their own denominations in the West.

The Assemblies of God is growing in America. But the real story is the ethnic transformation of the Assemblies of God. It is becoming less white and more reflective of the ethnic, linguistic and social diversity that exists in the global church. The founding fathers and mothers of the Assemblies of God  laid the foundation for this ethnic shift when they committed the Assemblies of God in November 1914 to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” In 1921 the Assemblies of God adopted the indigenous church principle as its official missions strategy, in order to better carry out world evangelism. The implementation of this strategy — which recognizes that each national church is autonomous and not controlled by Western interests — resulted in the development of strong national churches and leaders. And now, in a fitting turn of events, those churches are sending missionaries to America.

–Darrin J. Rodgers

7 Comments

Filed under News