The Assemblies of God among the Megachurches


Over on my Facebook page, I posted the Facts & Trends story, “Where Are All the Megachurches?” earlier this morning. However, I dug around a bit in the data underlying this story and found out that the Assemblies of God (USA) has the fifth largest group of megachurches among Protestant congregations. Of the 1,667 churches in the Hartford Seminary database of megachurches, here are the top five groupings:

  1. Nondenominational (458)
  2. Southern Baptist (260)
  3. Unknown denomination (187)
  4. Baptist, unspecified (120)
  5. Assemblies of God (109)

Another way to look at this is that the AG has the second largest grouping of megachurches among America’s Protestant denominations. Why? First, factor out the “Nondenominational” and “Unknown denomination.” Then, factor out “Baptist, unspecified” because those churches could belong to one of over 60 Baptist denominations in the U.S. That leaves the Southern Baptists and the AG as discrete denominational entities.

With that in mind, consider yet another way of looking at these numbers. The Southern Baptist Convention claimed 15.22 million adherents in 2016. It has 260 megachurches. That’s a ratio of 58,538 : 1. The AG claimed 3.21 million adherents in 2016 and has 109 megachurches. That’s a ratio of 30,283 : 1. Per capita, then, the AG has more megachurches than the SBC.

Fun with statistics, I guess.

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P.S. If you’d like to review Hartford Seminary’s Data, go here: http://hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/database.html. You can sort by congregation, denomination, state, and size.

P.P.S. I had the joy of working with Doyle and Connie Surratt at SeaCoast Grace Church, one of the churches on the list. Hi, guys!

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‘Against the Wind’ by J. Don George


From the latest issue of Enrichment comes this excerpt of J. Don George’s new book, Against the Wind:

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He didn’t leave the world in its status quo. He stepped out of heaven to make a difference. It cost Him dearly. Are the people in our communities worth the price we have to pay to reach out to them? We must overcome old, suspicious, stiff, self-absorbed, lethargic ways.

Many pastors see a few black or Hispanic faces in their congregations on Sunday and assume they are reaching these cultures. They may be doing a great job of connecting cross-culturally, but they may be doing nothing at all. We need to gauge the effectiveness of our cultural awareness and outreach by the comparison of our church demographics with community demographics. In 1995, Calvary was 98 percent white. Today, we are a clear reflection of Irving and the surrounding community: 30 percent white, 30 percent black, 30 percent Hispanic, and 10 percent Asian.

Love propels action; but, when love is absent, we withdraw into the safe confines of the status quo. We are glad when someone responds to the gospel, but we seldom invest our time, energy, or reputation in pursuing outcasts, sinners, or foreigners.

We need to ask penetrating questions:

  • Do we see people of other races, cultures, genders, and ages as annoyances that ask too much from us?

  • Do we see them as projects to pursue?

  • Or do we love these people so much that we’re willing to take any risk and pay any price to reach them?

Read the whole thing here. And watch J. Don George’s message on the same topic from this year’s General Council in Orlando, Florida.

GC13 Communion Service from Assemblies of God USA on Vimeo.

Robert Madu on Jesus, Grace, and Truth


This week, I’m going to post highlights from the 55th General Council of the Assemblies of God, which met last  week in Orlando, Florida. GC13 kicked off with the Influence Conference, which featured four speakers. The first was Robert Madu. he preached a great message on how Jesus fully, even if paradoxically, combines within  himself the virtues of grace and truth. His texts were John 1:14, 17; and 8:1-11.

Believing God for Greater Things


The fall 2013 issue of Enrichment is now available online. My opening editorial is below.

The founders of the Assemblies of God were audacious people. At the 2nd General Council in 1914, at the Stone Church in Chicago, they committed themselves and the Movement to Him “for the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen.” That was big talk coming from a few hundred people with limited resources, education, and opportunities.

Ninety-nine years later, the Assemblies of God worldwide is no longer a few hundred people but approximately 65 million strong. We are part of an uncoordinated revival — uncoordinated by men and women, anyway — that had multiple starts in many places around the world: Wales, India, the Korean peninsula, and, of course, Azusa Street. Today, one of every four Christians in the world is Pentecostal or charismatic. The growth of the Assemblies of God specifically and Pentecostalism generally is impressive. Arguably, the Pentecostal revival is one of the greatest people movements in history.

There is a tendency in people movements, including spiritual revivals, to lose momentum over time. They are birthed, they grow, they stagnate, they decline, and then they die. From a historical perspective, this seems natural because it happens so often. The question the Assemblies of God — especially in the United States, but also around the world — needs to ask itself as it approaches its centennial is whether this tendency will be our own.

I hope, for the sake of the world, that we answer with a resounding “No!” Pentecostals and charismatics may number approximately 1 out of every 4 Christians globally, but approximately 2 out of 3 people in the world are not Christians. There is no pride in being the growing piece of a shrinking pie.

Instead, I hope we offer a resounding “Yes!” to God and to His mission for us to the world. I hope, in other words, that as we end our first century and begin our second, the same Spirit that fanned into flame the faith of the Assemblies of God founders will fan into flame that same faith in us. The greatest evangelism the world has ever seen is not over; it has barely begun.

The theme of the 55th General Council is Believe. In line with that theme, we asked the Executive Leadership Team of the Assemblies of God to share with you what they are believing God for. We asked them to share these things because they lead our Fellowship. But we also want their essays to spark a fire of faith in your own heart. It is not enough to follow the faith-filled dreams of your leaders. You must have faith in God for your life, your home, and your ministry.

The founders of the Assemblies of God were audacious people. We need to be audacious people in our own generation. So, what are you believing God for?

‘Cultivating Faithfulness’ by George O. Wood (My Dad)


201302_042_Culti_art The spring 2013 issue of the journal I edit, Enrichment, includes an article by my dad, George O. Wood, about the important thing in small-church ministry, namely, faithfulness. Here’s an excerpt:

When I was a boy, Mom would often say two things to me, and she said them often. The first thing she said was, “It won’t matter 100 years from now.” Indeed that is true. One hundred years from now it won’t matter if we led a small ministry or a large one, whether we lived in a nice house or a rented one-room apartment, whether we drove a new car or an old jalopy, whether we got our clothes from Macy’s or Goodwill (where Mom got hers). What matters 100 years from now is whether we loved Jesus and loved the people Jesus called us to.

The second thing she said was, “Georgie (my family name), when we stand before Jesus He will not ask us if we have been successful, but if we have been faithful.” Of course, in retrospect, I realize the Lord wants us also to be fruitful as well as faithful; but it is my parents’ focus on faithfulness that informs my life to this day. I have been more successful than they if you examine success by metrics, but they were exceedingly faithful in spite of what seemingly was a lack of success.

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