The U.S. Assemblies of God’s General Council recently held its biennial business meeting in Orlando, Florida. Here is what you should know about one of the largest groups of Christian churches in the world.
1. The Assemblies of God considers itself a large fellowship rather than a denomination.
The Assemblies of God was founded in 1914 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with 300 people at the founding convention. Since then, it has grown within the U.S. to nearly 38,000 ministers in 13,000 churches and over 3 million members and adherents. The national church is called the General Council of the Assemblies of God. In keeping with the original intention of the founding body (and similar to the Southern Baptist Convention), the Assemblies of God is considered a cooperative fellowship instead of a denomination.
2. In the United States, the Assemblies of God is a young and diverse fellowship.
The AG is one of the youngest and most diverse Protestant groups in America. About 44 percent of adherents are ethnic minorities, and the majority of the fellowship (53 percent) is younger than 35.
3. The Assemblies of God is the world’s largest Pentecostal group.
The World Assemblies of God Fellowship is a cooperative body composed of more than 160 national church bodies. These national church bodies collectively number approximately 370,000 local churches and 70 million adherents. The stated purpose of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship is to “pursue the fulfillment of the Lord’s command to evangelize the lost in the shortest possible time, providing them the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel in all its fullness, by encouraging and assisting one another, promoting harmonious relationships, and seeking the most effective means of its accomplishment under the dynamic leadership of the Holy Spirit.”
4. Assemblies of God are (mostly) autonomous and independent.
Within the fellowship of the Assemblies of God are two classifications of churches—General Council–affiliated churches and district-affiliated churches. General Council–affiliated churches enjoy full autonomy, having “developed to the point where they are self-governing and self-supporting.” District-affiliated churches are those that have not yet developed to the point of qualifying for full autonomy. These churches are subject to the ecclesial supervision and authority of a parent church. All assemblies are required to adhere to the Statement of Fundamental Truths and a biblical pattern of conduct.
5. There are more than a dozen AG-endorsed colleges in the United States.
The seminaries, colleges, and universities endorsed by the fellowship include Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Caribbean Theological College, Christ Mission College, Evangel University, Global University, Korean Assemblies of God Theological School of New York, Labi College, Lumbee River Christian College, North Central University, Northpoint Bible College, Northwest University, Southeastern University, Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (American Indian College), Trinity Bible College, University of Valley Forge, and Vanguard University.
6. The Assemblies of God grew out of the Azusa Street Revival.
The AG originated in the Azusa Street Revival, a series of revivals in Los Angeles that began on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. These revivals were scorned by many established denominations, and led many who were attracted to this new Pentecostalism to start their own churches and fellowships.
7. About one-quarter of Assembly of God pastors are women.
Like most Pentecostal groups, the AG believes that women should be included in all ministry roles. About one in four AG pastors are women. In 2010, the official policy-making body of the AG adopted a statement on “The Role of Women in Ministry” that concludes, “After examining the various translations and interpretations of biblical passages relating to the role of women in the first-century church, and desiring to apply biblical principles to contemporary church practice, we conclude that we cannot find convincing evidence that the ministry of women is restricted according to some sacred or immutable principle.”
8. Assemblies of God churches subscribe to 16 ‘Fundamental Truths.’
Two years after its founding, the AG established 16 doctrines that became the Statement of Fundamental Truths. The 16 doctrines are:
- The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.
- There is only one true God who exists as a Trinity.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. The Scriptures declare his virgin birth, his sinless life, his miracles, his substitutionary work on the cross, his bodily resurrection from the dead, and his exaltation to the right hand of God.
- Man was created good and upright. However, man by voluntary transgression fell and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God.
- Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
- There are two ordinances. Believer’s baptism by immersion is a declaration to the world that the believer has died and been raised together with Christ, becoming a new creation. The Lord’s Supper is a symbol expressing the believer’s sharing in the divine nature of Christ, a memorial of Christ’s suffering and death, and a prophecy of Christ’s second coming.
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate and subsequent experience following conversion. Spirit baptism brings empowerment to live an overcoming Christian life and to be an effective witness.
- The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance. The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues, but is different in purpose and use.
- Sanctification is an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God. Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, and by the faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit.
- The Church’s mission is to seek and save all who are lost in sin; the church is the body of Christ and consists of all people who accept Christ, regardless of Christian denomination.
- Divinely called and scripturally ordained ministers serve the church.
- Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers.
- The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.
- The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with his saints to reign on earth for one thousand years.
- There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
- “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
9. Four doctrines are considered core to the belief of the Assemblies of God.
Within the 16 Foundational Truths, four are considered core beliefs “due to the key role they play in reaching the lost and building the believer and the church both now and for the future.” The Four Core Beliefs’ of the Assemblies of God are Salvation, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Divine Healing, and the Second Coming of Christ.