Is Your Church Dying? Try These 7 Keys to Nonstop Growth From AG

Is Your Church Dying? Try These 7 Keys to Nonstop Growth From AG

The U.S. Assemblies of God (AG) has grown over the last decade by 12 percent to more than 3.2 million, according to its official website.  What could this Pentecostal denomination be doing to keep growing in a culture of church decline? In this exclusive interview, AG General Superintendent Doug Clay shares why exactly the denomination continues to expand so much. Listen to find out how you can help your church.

13 Minutes • a month ago

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

With Stephen Strang

Guest: Doug Clay

 

The U.S. Assemblies of God (AG) has grown over the last decade by 12 percent to more than 3.2 million, according to its official website.  What could this Pentecostal denomination be doing to keep growing in a culture of church decline?

 

In this exclusive interview, AG General Superintendent Doug Clay shares why exactly the denomination continues to expand so much. Listen to find out how you can help your church.

 

Click here for Stephen Strang’s newsletter titled Is Your Church Dying? Try these 7 Keys to Nonstop Growth from AG.

 

Introduction

There is a disturbing trend in our culture that fewer people are calling themselves Christian. Fewer people are knowledgeable about the Bible and most denominations are dwindling. Hello everyone I'm Stephen Strang and welcome to the Strang Report. Today we have some good news. The Assemblies of God is continuing to grow and the leader of the Assemblies of God, the general superintendent, Doug Clay, told me recently about some of the reasons why the Assemblies is growing. Also, how they help churches that are in decline to turn around and a majority of the churches that they work with actually begin to grow again. This is something that your church can learn from whether or not it's a part of the great denomination called the Assemblies of God. Enjoy my podcast with the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Doug Clay.

 

I'm talking to Doug Clay, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, who I interviewed shortly after he took over this office. What I want to ask you about is why has the Assemblies of God continued to grow when the trend with most Protestant denominations has been in decline?

 

Doug Clay on Charisma

·         AG General Superintendent: 10 Ways We Must Pray After New York’s Horrific Law

·         New General Superintendent Says Evangelism Remains a Priority for Assemblies of God

·         AG Elects First Woman to Top Board in 100-Plus Year History

 

 

Doug Clay: I think it's a couple of things. First of all, I think it has to be attributed to the work of person of the Holy Spirit. We really do believe that the person of the Holy Spirit is not a ghost to be feared. He's not an “it” to be debated, but we see the part that He plays in personal transformation as well as the life of a church. Some of the specific things is I think our emphasis on multiplication has become very important right now in the Assemblies; churches multiplying in planting. The other thing that I think has kept a vibrancy to a 104-year-old denomination is we've established what we call a PAC Model. PAC stands for parent-affiliated church. A lot of our district leaders are looking at churches that have plateaued or declined and we're trying to be very intentional in jumpstarting spiritual vitality. We do that through two ways. Number one, we have a program called Acts 2, it's spearheaded by our assistant superintendent. Acts 2 is designed to take a church through a journey of sort of re-identifying themselves and helping that church discover what their next level potential is. Interestingly, in three years that it's been up and running, we have a 64 percent success rate. In other words, churches that were plateaued or declining, and we identify a plateaued or declining church that over a five-year period of time there's been no numerical growth or decline … 64 percent that have gone through Acts 2 have turned it around and have started growing. That sounds very simplistic, but being very intentional with identifying plateaued or declining churches, coupled with this PAC Model that says if you're a healthy life-giving church, instead of just closing this church down, can we somehow bring the life-giving DNA that you have, bring it over here, merge, consolidate, and you can use whatever word you want. We're using PAC. Would you come and pack this church back to health? I would say those are a couple of things coupled with …  the average age of the attender in an Assemblies of God church today is 35. That’s very exciting. I have to tell you I'm also concerned that the average age of our ordained ministers or lead pastors is in the high 50s.  I want to bring that number down. I don't want to grow this number of the attender. We're a young movement. Other little practical things, women in ministry, I believe is attributed to the vitality.  Twenty-five percent of our credentialed fraternity is female ministers. I see that adding life and vitality, and then our ethnic diversity. We are 43 percent ethnically diverse in the Assembly of God USA.

 

Stephen Strang: That's very impressive. You're describing it from your perspective as the leader, but at the grassroots level, what is it that draws people do you think to an Assemblies of God church as opposed to … there are a lot of different churches including a lot of independent charismatic or Pentecostal churches and of course, a lot of denominational churches?

 

Doug Clay: Again, I think it's the work and the person of the Holy Spirit. What I hope that will be characteristic of all Assemblies of God churches in the USA is biblical literacy, spirit empowerment and mission engagement. Those three things. After that, I don't care if your worship style is Hillsong, Elevation, Gateway, classical hymology … but those three things. I have a concern that about 10 years ago, it felt like we shifted in our preaching from what do you know to how do you feel. I think that contributed a little bit to the biblical illiteracy that is emerging. But I'm encouraged today that even in even in millennials and Gen Z that are coming into positions of lead pastor, expository preaching is sort of back on the rise and I like that. But I do think we went about a 10-to 15-year period of time where the shift went from what do you know to how do you feel? That was concerning to me. So, the biblical literacy, then the spirit empowerment, we do believe that every Christ follower is a candidate for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I think when that happens that's an attractive feature. That's not just a denominational obligation. I've watched some of my own friends in this community come into the experience of the Baptism, go from being a 20-year mainline, tithe-paying good evangelical to, wow, I’ve got to do something with my life. What’s my purpose? So, I do believe that the work of the person of the Holy Spirit is a catalyst for church vitality.

 

Stephen Strang: What do you think is making the shift of where there's more expository preaching?

 

Doug Clay: I think the awareness of a lack of biblical worldview from people who call themselves Christians. Culture has sort of created that, the political world has created that. On a major scale when the Reveal study came out from Willow Creek, everybody looked and said, well, that’s a seeker model. But then as people started doing some inspection within their own home they realized, whoa, just because we're a Pentecostal church doesn't make us any more biblically literate. That's why I'm really driven that in the Assemblies of God, we take on biblical literacy.

 

Stephen Strang: That's very important. What are your goals for your tenure, your four-year term?

 

Doug Clay: Yes, it’s a four-year term. If you asked me today what would be the top three goals that I would have for my administration, number one is to move this needle on biblical literacy, that when people say what's an Assemblies of God church all about, they would talk about the centrality of the Word in everything they do. We're looking at curriculum, we are looking at departmental ministries. We are looking at ministerial training and ongoing training for ministers to be able to just to bring Scripture back. Why? Well, everybody has a worldview. Your worldview is based on your upbringing, based on your life experiences. but not everybody has a biblical worldview. I am just convinced that's a deficiency that I want to see move. The second thing I would love to see during my tenure is that we target late elementary, early junior high students regarding the call of God into full-time vocational service. As I mentioned to you, there's a little bit of a gap between our average attender and those who are credentialed ministers. Again I think in our tribe we shifted from challenging people to the call of God into vocational ministry, pastoring, missions work to hey, everybody has a call. I get that. Everybody does have a call. I believe there's a place for Christian attorneys, Christian journalists, Christian politicians, but I'm also passionate about challenging young people. What if. Is part of the Ephesians 2:10 how you've been created in Christ Jesus? Does part of that involve ministry in the local church, leadership in the church? I'm kind of on a campaign to see a lot of young people called into the ministry.

 

For the rest of Stephen’s interview with Doug Clay, visit cpnshows.com.

Connect with Doug Clay

·         At ag.org

·         On Facebook

·         On Twitter

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

With Stephen Strang

Guest: Doug Clay

 

The U.S. Assemblies of God (AG) has grown over the last decade by 12 percent to more than 3.2 million, according to its official website.  What could this Pentecostal denomination be doing to keep growing in a culture of church decline?

 

In this exclusive interview, AG General Superintendent Doug Clay shares why exactly the denomination continues to expand so much. Listen to find out how you can help your church.

 

Click here for Stephen Strang’s newsletter titled Is Your Church Dying? Try these 7 Keys to Nonstop Growth from AG.

 

Introduction

There is a disturbing trend in our culture that fewer people are calling themselves Christian. Fewer people are knowledgeable about the Bible and most denominations are dwindling. Hello everyone I'm Stephen Strang and welcome to the Strang Report. Today we have some good news. The Assemblies of God is continuing to grow and the leader of the Assemblies of God, the general superintendent, Doug Clay, told me recently about some of the reasons why the Assemblies is growing. Also, how they help churches that are in decline to turn around and a majority of the churches that they work with actually begin to grow again. This is something that your church can learn from whether or not it's a part of the great denomination called the Assemblies of God. Enjoy my podcast with the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Doug Clay.

 

I'm talking to Doug Clay, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, who I interviewed shortly after he took over this office. What I want to ask you about is why has the Assemblies of God continued to grow when the trend with most Protestant denominations has been in decline?

 

Doug Clay on Charisma

·         AG General Superintendent: 10 Ways We Must Pray After New York’s Horrific Law

·         New General Superintendent Says Evangelism Remains a Priority for Assemblies of God

·         AG Elects First Woman to Top Board in 100-Plus Year History

 

 

Doug Clay: I think it's a couple of things. First of all, I think it has to be attributed to the work of person of the Holy Spirit. We really do believe that the person of the Holy Spirit is not a ghost to be feared. He's not an “it” to be debated, but we see the part that He plays in personal transformation as well as the life of a church. Some of the specific things is I think our emphasis on multiplication has become very important right now in the Assemblies; churches multiplying in planting. The other thing that I think has kept a vibrancy to a 104-year-old denomination is we've established what we call a PAC Model. PAC stands for parent-affiliated church. A lot of our district leaders are looking at churches that have plateaued or declined and we're trying to be very intentional in jumpstarting spiritual vitality. We do that through two ways. Number one, we have a program called Acts 2, it's spearheaded by our assistant superintendent. Acts 2 is designed to take a church through a journey of sort of re-identifying themselves and helping that church discover what their next level potential is. Interestingly, in three years that it's been up and running, we have a 64 percent success rate. In other words, churches that were plateaued or declining, and we identify a plateaued or declining church that over a five-year period of time there's been no numerical growth or decline … 64 percent that have gone through Acts 2 have turned it around and have started growing. That sounds very simplistic, but being very intentional with identifying plateaued or declining churches, coupled with this PAC Model that says if you're a healthy life-giving church, instead of just closing this church down, can we somehow bring the life-giving DNA that you have, bring it over here, merge, consolidate, and you can use whatever word you want. We're using PAC. Would you come and pack this church back to health? I would say those are a couple of things coupled with …  the average age of the attender in an Assemblies of God church today is 35. That’s very exciting. I have to tell you I'm also concerned that the average age of our ordained ministers or lead pastors is in the high 50s.  I want to bring that number down. I don't want to grow this number of the attender. We're a young movement. Other little practical things, women in ministry, I believe is attributed to the vitality.  Twenty-five percent of our credentialed fraternity is female ministers. I see that adding life and vitality, and then our ethnic diversity. We are 43 percent ethnically diverse in the Assembly of God USA.

 

Stephen Strang: That's very impressive. You're describing it from your perspective as the leader, but at the grassroots level, what is it that draws people do you think to an Assemblies of God church as opposed to … there are a lot of different churches including a lot of independent charismatic or Pentecostal churches and of course, a lot of denominational churches?

 

Doug Clay: Again, I think it's the work and the person of the Holy Spirit. What I hope that will be characteristic of all Assemblies of God churches in the USA is biblical literacy, spirit empowerment and mission engagement. Those three things. After that, I don't care if your worship style is Hillsong, Elevation, Gateway, classical hymology … but those three things. I have a concern that about 10 years ago, it felt like we shifted in our preaching from what do you know to how do you feel. I think that contributed a little bit to the biblical illiteracy that is emerging. But I'm encouraged today that even in even in millennials and Gen Z that are coming into positions of lead pastor, expository preaching is sort of back on the rise and I like that. But I do think we went about a 10-to 15-year period of time where the shift went from what do you know to how do you feel? That was concerning to me. So, the biblical literacy, then the spirit empowerment, we do believe that every Christ follower is a candidate for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I think when that happens that's an attractive feature. That's not just a denominational obligation. I've watched some of my own friends in this community come into the experience of the Baptism, go from being a 20-year mainline, tithe-paying good evangelical to, wow, I’ve got to do something with my life. What’s my purpose? So, I do believe that the work of the person of the Holy Spirit is a catalyst for church vitality.

 

Stephen Strang: What do you think is making the shift of where there's more expository preaching?

 

Doug Clay: I think the awareness of a lack of biblical worldview from people who call themselves Christians. Culture has sort of created that, the political world has created that. On a major scale when the Reveal study came out from Willow Creek, everybody looked and said, well, that’s a seeker model. But then as people started doing some inspection within their own home they realized, whoa, just because we're a Pentecostal church doesn't make us any more biblically literate. That's why I'm really driven that in the Assemblies of God, we take on biblical literacy.

 

Stephen Strang: That's very important. What are your goals for your tenure, your four-year term?

 

Doug Clay: Yes, it’s a four-year term. If you asked me today what would be the top three goals that I would have for my administration, number one is to move this needle on biblical literacy, that when people say what's an Assemblies of God church all about, they would talk about the centrality of the Word in everything they do. We're looking at curriculum, we are looking at departmental ministries. We are looking at ministerial training and ongoing training for ministers to be able to just to bring Scripture back. Why? Well, everybody has a worldview. Your worldview is based on your upbringing, based on your life experiences. but not everybody has a biblical worldview. I am just convinced that's a deficiency that I want to see move. The second thing I would love to see during my tenure is that we target late elementary, early junior high students regarding the call of God into full-time vocational service. As I mentioned to you, there's a little bit of a gap between our average attender and those who are credentialed ministers. Again I think in our tribe we shifted from challenging people to the call of God into vocational ministry, pastoring, missions work to hey, everybody has a call. I get that. Everybody does have a call. I believe there's a place for Christian attorneys, Christian journalists, Christian politicians, but I'm also passionate about challenging young people. What if. Is part of the Ephesians 2:10 how you've been created in Christ Jesus? Does part of that involve ministry in the local church, leadership in the church? I'm kind of on a campaign to see a lot of young people called into the ministry.

 

For the rest of Stephen’s interview with Doug Clay, visit cpnshows.com.

Connect with Doug Clay

·         At ag.org

·         On Facebook

·         On Twitter

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

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Is Your Church Dying? Try These 7 Keys to Nonstop Growth From AG