Tag Archives: Worship

A Warning from 1929 about Making the Worship Service into a Form of Entertainment

Bethany Temple (Evertt, WA)

The orchestra at Bethany Temple in Everett, Washington, circa 1928-1932, featured musicians such as Myrtle Peterson Robeck on piano (left) and Levi Larson on trombone (right). 

This Week in AG History — June 1, 1929

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 1 June 2017

What role should music play in the church worship service? A 1929 Pentecostal Evangel article affirmed the value of music, while warning against the tendency to make the worship service into a form of entertainment.

The article observed that, in many quarters, “much of the worship offered to God is governed by what the people want rather than by the divine plan.” What is the “divine plan”? According to the article’s author, Canadian Pentecostal pioneer George A. Chambers, a worship service should include prayer, music, preaching of the Word, and an experience of the “real presence of God.”

Chambers was not opposed to the contemporary worship music of his day. He affirmed the joyful singing accompanied by numerous musical instruments for which early Pentecostals were known. He was concerned that, in some quarters, a certain professionalism was creeping into the church, which emphasized performance over the presence and power of God. He cautioned that musical performances sometimes overshadowed the other elements of the worship service.

According to Chambers, various musical numbers — including solos, duets, and orchestral selections — sometimes receive so much attention “that the Word of God is often relegated to 20 or 30 minutes’ time, and if its discussion is protracted beyond that the people show their disapproval by retiring from the service.” He noted that music often attracts people to church, but added, “Crowds are not always a sign of blessing and of God’s presence.”

Chambers’ concern for the church in 1929 seems quite applicable 88 years later. Noting that the earliest Pentecostals were known for their deeply spiritual services, he encouraged readers to rediscover the deep spirituality that birthed the movement. He lamented the tendency to replace a reliance upon the Holy Spirit with a reliance upon modern methods and advertising, quipping, “It used to be ‘follow the cloud!’ Now in many places it is more or less ‘follow the crowd.’”

Chambers encouraged readers to read 1 Chronicles 13-15, which documented how Israel learned the importance of worshiping according to God’s plan. The church, he believed, could benefit from the lessons provided by Israel’s example. While there are many ways to organize a worship service, Chambers’ article reminds Pentecostals to rely on the Holy Spirit and to keep the necessary elements in balance.

Read Chambers’ article, “Doing a Right Thing in a Wrong Way,” in the June 1, 1929, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Also featured in this issue:

* “Diamond Cut Diamond,” by Harry Steil

* “Scriptural Warnings,” by P. C. Nelson

Click here to view this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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“America Must Choose”: A Warning from 1968 about the Christian’s Response to Social and Political Unrest

Scott Charles P14338

Charles Scott and his wife, Gertrude

This Week in AG History — March 24, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 23 March 2017

1968 was a year of social and political unrest. American race riots, the war in Vietnam, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy grabbed the world’s attention. Cultural uncertainty and rumblings of revolution were on everyone’s mind.

In the midst of this cultural chaos, an article in the March 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel encouraged readers to remain grounded in their Christian faith.

Assemblies of God leader Charles Scott, in an article titled, “America Must Choose,” expressed concern that “we have permitted ourselves to become blind to the grave dangers that are gnawing at the very vitals of America.” Scott recalled that Marshall Henri Petain, who led France during the Nazi occupation, surmised that France’s downfall was rooted in the “immorality, alcoholism, and irreligion” of the French people. Scott suggested that these three evils were likewise threatening America. He went on to detail the moral decay in America, pointing out that violence, sexual immorality, and drug addiction were hurting children and undermining families.

At a time when many were drawn toward political solutions and extremes, Scott instead recognized that the nation’s woes, at their root, were spiritual. He recommended a spiritual solution to the problems enveloping the nation. He encouraged Christians to choose “to abandon these evils and to walk the path of righteousness.”

How should Christians work to spiritually rebuild America? According to Scott, Christians should dedicate themselves to worshipping God — corporately as families and churches, and also individually. He described the need to rebuild family, church, and private altars. This was a common theme over the years in Scott’s articles and sermons — he felt called to remind Christians about the importance of developing specific times and places to worship God corporately and individually.

“America must choose,” Scott wrote, how to respond to the dangers besetting the nation. While not rejecting political action, he believed that true, lasting change could only occur through spiritual renewal. “True patriots,” Scott suggested, are people who seek “to destroy corruption, intemperance, wickedness, and selfishness” in their own lives. Others, seeing their example of humility and faith, would turn toward God, and America would then be strong and “a blessing in the earth.”

Read Charles Scott’s article, “America Must Choose!” on pages 2-3 of the March 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Warning on Worldliness,” by Larry Hurtado

* “How to Teach the Bible,” by James H. McConkey

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the 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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Pentecostal Songwriter F. A. Graves


Description: F. A. Graves, circa 1897. 

This Week in AG History — January 22, 1927

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Wed, 22 Jan 2014 – 4:36 PM CST

Music has always been an important part of the Pentecostal tradition. This was true one hundred years ago as it is today. One of the best-known early Pentecostal songwriters was Frederick A. Graves (1856-1927).

F. A. Graves overcame significant childhood adversity. He was orphaned at age nine and was diagnosed with epilepsy five years later. He was an earnest young Christian and prepared for ministry at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and studied music in Northfield, Massachusetts. Despite suffering periodic seizures, he moved to southwestern Minnesota and served as an organizer and evangelist for the American Sunday School Union. He heard John Alexander Dowie, the famous healing evangelist, at a meeting in Minneapolis. At Dowie’s meeting, Graves experienced a miraculous healing of his epilepsy.

Graves wrote at least 43 songs, including popular hymns such as Honey in the Rock (1895) and He Was Nailed to the Cross for Me (1906). However, Graves did not write a single song until he was almost 35 years old, after his healing from epilepsy. Much of Grave’s inspiration as a songwriter came from his own experience of suffering and God’s merciful healing. Graves did not expect to be healed, nor did he expect to be a songwriter. Graves often testified in his usual understated manner, “God had a blessed surprise for me.”

Graves received credentials as an Assemblies of God minister in 1916. All of his children attended Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri. His son, Arthur, became president of Southeastern Bible College (now Southeastern University). Another son, Carl, became an Assemblies of God missionary to Ceylon. His daughter, Irene, married Myer Pearlman, the noted convert from Judaism, author, and theology professor at Central Bible Institute. F. A. Graves died on January 2, 1927. Nearly 1,000 people attended his funeral in Zion, Illinois.

Read the obituary of F. A. Graves on page 7 of the January 22, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Keeping our Accounts Balanced,” by D. W. Kerr

* “Old-Time Pentecost,” by Mattie Ledbetter

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

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What is the Ideal Church?

Gee_P0111

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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Review: Ministry to the Disabled

Compel Them to Come In: Reaching People with Disabilities through the Local Church, compiled and edited by Tom Leach. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Fifty-eight million Americans live with some form of disability. Yet many churches have seemingly ignored this large and diverse population. A new book, Compel Them to Come In, provides a guide to ministry to people with physical and mental disabilities. This book – an anthology of essays by Assemblies of God leaders in disability ministries – is the first of its kind to be written by Pentecostals. Its solid, ministry-tested approach means that it will be welcomed by the broader Christian community.

Compel Them to Come In seeks to introduce pastors and people in the pew to some of the issues and strategies regarding ministry to people with physical and mental disabilities. The book offers practical suggestions regarding the adaptation of specific ministries (e.g., evangelism, Sunday school, the worship service) to the needs of the disabled. It also addresses how to minister to people with specific disabilities (e.g., mild intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, blind and visually impaired). The volume also discusses the importance of providing encouragement to caregivers, and points out that the disabled have a valuable role in ministry to the body.

The authors write from experience. Tom Leach, the editor, was born with mild cerebral palsy. His mother, instead of aborting Tom, gave birth and placed him for adoption. At age 25 while a student at Trinity Bible College (Ellendale, North Dakota), he survived a car wreck that left him paralyzed from the chest down as a C-6, 7 quadriplegic. He is now an Assemblies of God evangelist serving with Special Touch Ministry, a para-church organization that serves the needs of people with disabilities and which helped to develop this book.

Additional contributors include: Charlie Chivers, a nationally appointed Assemblies of God missionary to people with disabilities and founder of Special Touch Ministry; Larry Campbell, also a nationally appointed Assemblies of God missionary to people with disabilities; Paul Weingartner, the executive director of the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind; and Sarah Sykes, who works with the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind.

I had the privilege of meeting Tom Leach in his Ellendale home this summer. Within the course of an hour, Tom changed my views about people with disabilities. He shared his testimony and showed me Compel Them to Come In and another book he had authored. This was the first conversation I can recall having with a quadriplegic. When I previously came into contact with people who had lost use of their limbs, I generally looked away, partly because I did not want to stare and partly because I felt embarrassed. Tom burst my stereotypes and demonstrated an incredible passion for life and for Christ. He was articulate and I clung onto his words. And I still cannot grasp how Tom was able to produce two books – even with a computer adapted to his disabilities and with the assistance of his wife, Gayle, and a handful of ministry colleagues.

Tom completed this book after having spent 26 years as a quadriplegic and 18 years in ministry to people with disabilities. Tom wrestled with the problem of suffering, human weakness, and feeling unlovely and unwanted. He wrote, “People with disabilities live in a raw, harsh reality. They are painfully aware that their conditions and circumstances are often ugly and distasteful to others, and that their lifestyle and behaviors are sometimes interpreted as being weird, abnormal, and bizarre.” Tom then reminded readers that Jesus embraced “the ugly, dirt-encrusted feet of his disciples in His holy hands and washed them” (p. xvii). The book’s title was inspired by a parable of Jesus where the master ordered his servant: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:21, 23). The message in Compel Them to Come In, and in scripture, is unmistakable – Christ gave a mandate to the church to minister to those with disabilities. This is a message that Pentecostals – and the broader church – need to hear.

Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers

Paperback, 237 pages, illustrated. $29.95 retail. Order from: amazon.com

Tom Leach also wrote Firestorm: State of the Union, a novel about extremists on both sides of the abortion issue who threatened to engulf the United States in a firestorm of violence. Tom has significant credibility when speaking on the value of life because of his life story. For more information or to purchase the book, go to: amazon.com

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George O. Wood on enduring core values

George Wood1 George Wood2 George Wood3
Photos: Dr. George O. Wood, speaking at the AGTS chapel, September 14, 2007. Used with permission of AGTS.


The Assemblies of God (USA) elected new leadership at its 52nd General Council in Indianapolis, Indiana in August 2007. What does this mean for our Fellowship?

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent-Elect, gave the following acceptance speech at the commissioning service of the new Executive Leadership Team, which took place Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at the national headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. In his message, Dr. Wood identified five “enduring core values” of the Assemblies of God. These values, he promised, will guide him as he seeks to lead the Assemblies of God to fulfill its three-fold mission to worship, evangelize, and make disciples.

____________________________________

ENDURING CORE VALUES
by Dr. George O. Wood
September 18, 2007

At this past General Council, you extended to me the grace of responsibility in serving as the next general superintendent. I am humbled by your confidence in me and ask you to pray for me and the other leaders as we begin this journey of serving you.

People have been asking me, “George, what’s your vision for the Assemblies of God? What are you going to focus on Continue reading

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Review: Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar: The Sacraments in Pentecostal Worship, by Daniel Tomberlin. Cleveland, TN: Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care, 2006.

Since the beginning of the Pentecostal movement, experiencing the Spirit of God has been central to Pentecostals in both private and corporate worship. When it comes to congregational worship, Pentecostals have critiqued what they deem to be dead ritualism devoid of a personal experience of the Holy Spirit. As a result, Pentecostals have questioned many traditional practices relating to the sacraments (often viewed as theologically or historically suspect because of their relation to the Roman Catholic Church) and have opted for the term “ordinances” instead. The latter is often seen to be more of a faith-based means rather then a works-based means of experiencing the Spirit.

Daniel Tomberlin, pastor of Bainbridge Church of God (Bainbridge, GA) and chairman of Ministerial Development for the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) in South Georgia, has authored a book that will raise some eyebrows. In it, Tomberlin claims that Pentecostalism and sacramental worship are not mutually exclusive. Rather, he provides a stimulating discussion of how he believes Pentecostal worship is sacramental. This volume, which aims to provide an introduction to the subject for Pentecostal church leaders, is possibly one of the first educational resources of its kind published by a classical Pentecostal denomination.

Encountering God at the Altar touches on topics such as Pentecostal worship and spirituality. Tomberlin develops a Pentecostal theology of the sacraments and also explores the practice of the sacraments in Pentecostal worship.In following Church of God theologian Kenneth Archer, Tomberlin argues for the retrieval of the term sacrament over the term ordinance, claiming that the ordinances are sacramental — a “means of grace” where one encounters the Holy Spirit (p. 24). The author rightly points out that Pentecostal spirituality is centered on encountering the Holy Spirit. “Therefore,” Tomberlin states, “the center and focus of Pentecostal worship is the altar” (p. 19).

When addressing whether life in the church and the sacraments are essential to salvation, Tomberlin identifies the church and sacraments as “secondary salvific gifts,” compared to the Son and Spirit as “primary salvific gifts” from the Father. At the same time he ultimately admits “that participation in the sacramental life of the church may not be absolutely essential to salvation due to God’s prevenient grace” (p. 27). Continue reading

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