Assemblies of God Posts Impressive Numbers

By Pinsky, Mark I. | The Christian Century, September 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Assemblies of God Posts Impressive Numbers


Pinsky, Mark I., The Christian Century


The Assemblies of God, a denomination rooted in rural and small town America, appears to have leaped into the 21st century in a dramatic way.

At its General Council meeting in Orlando, Florida, August 5-9, the denomination touted its formula for defying the downward trend affecting other religious groups: contemporary music, arts and high-tech communication and outreach to young people, immigrants and ethnic minorities.

The denomination reported a 1.8 percent increase in U.S. membership to 3 million adherents. Globally, the gain was 1.5 percent, to 66 million, making it the largest Pentecostal group in the world.

Why are the Assemblies of God defying the odds? "We have been flexible when it comes to culture--music, dress, pulpit attire--while remaining consistent on that which has not changed, which is doctrine," said George O. Wood, the newly reelected general superintendent who is also chairman of the World Assemblies of God.

Wood, 71, an attorney as well as a minister, said other denominations have "shifted in their doctrinal focus, and softened their reliance on the authority of God's word, especially as it relates to scripture and sexuality morality."

For example, the denomination's boys' youth group, the Royal Rangers, appears to have benefited from the Boy Scouts of America's recent decision to admit gay scouts.

"Since the May 23 BSA decision, Royal Rangers has received many inquiries from families, churches, and denominations seeking an alternate way to mentor future men," said Doug Marsh, national Royal Rangers director. …

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