Time to take inventory

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Another year has passed. Did you progress spiritually, or did you go backward? Was it a year of spiritual stagnancy? How has your prayer life progressed, your understanding of the Word, the quality of your ministry (hopefully you have one or more)? Has your moral behavior progressed this year? Did old sinful habits and mannerisms fall away? Have you forgiven any old grudges?

What about your family? Are they growing in God? Did you and your spouse grow closer to each other? Are the kids, as my great grandmother said, turning out well?

Now look at your church. Was 2001 a year of strife? Were new members added? Are people getting saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and discipled? How many people from your body have been called into the ministry or foreign missions? Does your church look more like the book of Acts today than January of last year?

Next, your denomination. Ask the same questions you did about your church.

Finally your community. The churches of your area are responsible for the people of your area. How's the crime rate? Are the Chrisitan churches making inroads into satan's domain? Are churches working together? Is yours participating in any city-wide projects? How about the false religions and cults? How are they doing? Any new mosques sprouting up?

Now that you've taken inventory, what would the Lord have you do?

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2001


RP I am just curious have you asked the same questions of your denomination. And since you are Assemblies of God what answers have you arrived at?

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2001

Denise, Keeping in mind this is only my bug's eye view,

1. The Assemblies made a HUGE change to their bylaws this year by voting to accept ministry candidates with divorce in their past as long as the divorce occured prior to salvation. Along with that came much politics and acrimony, and it ain't over yet. Other than this issue though I'm unaware of any significant strife. Certain individuals and churches may be at war, but there will always be a certain level of that. Other than this one issue I'd say we're about the same as always, and maybe a little better.

2. As for our membership we're growing by leaps and bounds overseas, but are experiencing only slow growth in the US. In my district we're actually static, losing about as many as we gain.

3. People are getting saved in our churches in good numbers, but not nearly enough go on to receive water baptism or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We also have a weakness in the area of discipleship, though that's more of a case by case situation.

4. We continue to commission many new ministers, but not enough of them are able to take on full-time pastorates. Depending on the area we have many who are either forced to work secular jobs while ministering, or who choose not to pastor at all. These are in effect laity who retain minister's credentials.

5. Foreign missions continues to be our strong suit. From what I've been able to observe the Assemblies has the best missions organization of any church today. We continue to add new missionaries all the time and break into new counties. Most of our Latin American, African, and Korean works are now self-sufficient and growing on their own. We're now looking to expand pioneer works in former communist countries, and break into closed areas. These include Muslim countries and areas like China and Vietnam. Some of this work is done undercover.

6. Do we look like the book of Acts? No, but again that depends on the church. Overall the Assemblies are in great need of revival. We have many ministers undergoing discipline for moral or ethical violations, but having said that I'd also add that our standards of conduct are quite strict compared to many denominations.

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

I should also add that we're in the midst of a great generational turnover, and that may be contributing to some turbulence. I'm sure that added to the big bylaw change.

Our system of government is big on the sovereignty of the local assembly. That means our ministers are not appointed by a headquarters, but rather each church hires its pastor much as a business would hire an employee. Churches understand that they must continue to grow or they will cease to exist. For economic reasons alone, there's a hunger to grow in most of our churches because they understand that they won't survive without it. For that reason I've not seen much of the situation written of in these threads where long- standing leadership made up of elderly people locks younger people out.

We understand that economic and ministry strength comes from young families. In those churches lacking younger families you'll find a sense of quiet desperation, and a desire to do something about it. Rarely though will you find a collection of elderly people content with that situation.

In most cases, if an minister fails to allow for the change sought by younger families, he'll be on his way out. The congregation understands that their church won't last otherwise, and either the younger families will leave, or the pastor will. Since the pastor is an employee of the congregation, it's possible to remove that dead wood. Fortunately though, this is rare. Most pastors understand the situation as well as the congregation, and are fairly open to change and new blood.

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

RP thanks for the insight, I think it helps all of us as christians if we can understand each other's denominations. Yesterday our Director of Evangelism said she felt the Holy Spirit was going to create a great revival in the Christian churches for 2002. I am also hearing from other friends in different denominations that they are feeling the same way. I was even surprised when one of our quietest members asked during our prayer time yesterday, that God give him a boldness to ask people to come to church. RP are you hearing talk of revival in the assemblies of God. And have you gotten to an A.M.E church yet. You have been on our board for a year now you now qualify as an "electronic associate A.M.E member" ;-) It is good to hear your perspective. As I have shared with you before My best clergy friend in my town is the Pastor of the Assemblies of God church. The worship style is similar to my church, testimonies, altar call, emphasis on prayer. One last thing, Methodism is unique in that we have a Bishop that appoints clergy. This is very different than a congregational system such as Assembly of God, Presbyterians, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, UCC etc. and so the amount of time that clergy stays in one place is dependent on the Bishop. By the way the media campaign that the Assemblies of God has going on now is powerful. I am refering to the "God is hope campaign" I saw it on your denominational website. I am hoping that the A.M.E denomination can develop such a campaign.

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

Thank you RP for the question "What would the Lord have you do?" Tonight, I shall pray earnestly for an answer. Thank you again and God bless.

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

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