(CC) Philip Jenkins on the Pentecostal Church–Astonishing Assemblies

The United States has spawned many Chris­tian de­­no­minations, some of which have gone on to thrive internationally. This year marks the centennial of one of the great success stories, the Assemblies of God. Not only have the Assemblies become a truly global church, but they have won far more followers outside their original homeland than within it.

The AG grew out of the famous Pentecostal revival that began on Los Angeles’s Azusa Street in 1906. In 1914, local congregations met in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to form the denomination. Mem­ber­ship reached only 50,000 by the 1920s, but then it proceeded to grow rapidly. The Assem­­blies of God in the United States reached 1 million members by 1971, rising to 3 million today. By comparison, the Episcopal Church since the 1960s has contracted from 3 million members to 2 million.

The church’s expansion in recent years is greater than we would think if we just counted signs explicitly using the Assemblies of God label. Many of the country’s thriving megachurches are affiliated with the AG, but use a more generic label. That practice is not intended to deceive but rather recognizes a popular sense that traditional denominational labels are divisive and sectarian. My own working rule is that mega­church signs should usually read “Com­munity Church (really Assem­blies of God).”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Globalization, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

2 comments on “(CC) Philip Jenkins on the Pentecostal Church–Astonishing Assemblies

  1. Jeff Walton says:

    A helpful article in understanding the AoG boom. Over the past decade, every AoG region except for the Great Lakes has seen net growth — and the Spanish-language districts have witnessed breathtaking growth.

    Here in DC, Pastor Mark Batterson’s National Community Church is one of the “stealthy” AoG churches Jenkins describes. Meeting in movie theaters, the church has grown to seven separate sites and is enormously successful.

  2. MichaelA says:

    Well, that lays down a challenge to Anglicans and other denominations. Compete with the AoG to save more souls!

    I don’t mean in the sense of transfer growth or “sheep stealing” – there are more than enough unchurched pagans to go around, in every western society. Let’s grow all the churches.