What is the Ideal Church?

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This Week in AG History — September 9, 1933

By William Molenaar
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 09 Sep 2013 – 3:12 PM CST

What does the ideal church service look like? What role do spiritual gifts play in your church?

Donald Gee, pastor, educator, ecumenist, and twice elected Chairman of the British Assemblies of God, was known as the “Apostle of Balance.” He authored the classic text on spiritual gifts, Concerning the Spiritual Gifts, which was published in 1928.

In the September 9, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Gee described what the ideal church service would look like. Like most early Pentecostals, he believed in the restoration of New Testament practice, concerning conducting Christian meetings. According to Gee, “The Assemblies of God believe that all worship and ministry should be based primarily upon the exercise of the varied gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8-10) placed within the Church.” However, Gee admitted that this ideal is “difficult to attain to in perfection.”

Gee decried two types of Pentecostal churches. The first kind of church Gee takes aim at is the church in which “the revival spirit wanes.” He points out that in these churches “there is an immediate temptation to still produce an apparent abundance of ‘life’ in the meetings by all sorts of artificial and carnal methods; such as novel programs, special music, spectacular sermons, etc. Some of these things may not be wrong under circumstances, and as the handmaid of the truly spiritual; but when they become the substitute for the true life and liberty of the operations of the Spirit of God, and when they even hinder and choke the manifestation of the Spirit — then the ideal is lost indeed.”

Gee says “An alternative that is almost worse” is a church which attempts to “maintain all the outward forms of spiritual liberty in worship, and exercise of spiritual gifts in ministry, without the anointing of the Spirit.” Here, the local church may have an open atmosphere and some semblance of Pentecost, but it merely wastes of time “with long dry prayers, stale testimonies, and unprofitable and undigested preaching.”

In fact, Gee states, “Even the heavily programed meeting is probably preferable to the deadness of an assembly that boasts an outward form of liberty in its outward form of services, but lacks the power and life of the Spirit at its heart.”

In contrast, Gee proclaims that “The achievement of the Assemblies of God ideal in worship and ministry absolutely demands a continuance of genuine Pentecostal power resting upon everything and everybody in the assembly. This is only maintained by ceaseless prayer and watchfulness, and full consecration to walk in the way of the Cross.”

Read the article by Donald Gee, “Our ‘Ideal’ in the Conduct of Meetings,” on page 2 of the September 9, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Behold He Cometh!” by E. S. Williams

* “Then and Now,” by G. Herbert Schmidt

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 Evangel, click 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

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Filed under Church, Spirituality, Theology

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