Assemblies of God Survey Prompts Call for More Effective Discipleship
More than half of Assemblies of God churches have had a five-year average worship attendance growth of 10 percent or more.
Results from a recent survey conducted for the General Council of Assemblies of God show that 56 percent of AG churches reported such growth while 29 percent reported a decline of at least 10 percent.
AG leaders are encouraged by the statistics but concerned about the health of discipleship in the pentecostal denomination.
According to the survey, conducted by LifeWay Research, less than 35 percent of pastors in AG churches reported that 60 percent or more of their congregation is involved in a small group or Sunday School.
Also, 49 percent of churches said they do not regularly evaluate their congregation's discipleship progress.
Taking a closer look at discipleship, the survey examined not only the number of new commitments and baptisms in AG churches but also the active involvement of those new believers.
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Findings show that 35 percent of Assemblies of God churches reported six or more conversions among youths and 47 percent reported at least six conversions among adults in the past 12 months.
In terms of moving the newly committed toward ministry, 11 percent of churches said none of the newly saved youths became active in church life; 47 percent said two to five of them became actively involved; and 24 percent said at least six of the converted youths became involved in the church.
Thirty-four percent of churches reported that at least six of the adults who made a commitment to Jesus Christ became involved in church life. Only seven percent said none of the newly committed adults became actively involved.
Wes Bartel, Discipleship Ministries Agency director, said there's room for much improvement in the area of discipleship.
"Given the clarity of the Great Commission, it was important for us to once again stress the importance of the discipleship mandate," Bartel said, according to the Assemblies of God news service. "It’s very easy for pastors and leaders to be caught up in the issues that we face lose sight of the core things we are called to pursue."
The survey also measure the involvement of the congregation overall. Twenty-four percent of AG churches reported 60 percent or more of adults have regular responsibilities at church and 21 percent said 30 percent or more of the adults in their congregation serve people in their community. Also, 27 percent said 30 percent of attendees are personally involved in outreach.
The survey highlights a disconnect between what attendees of AG churches know about reaching out and their actions. While 93 percent of AG pastors said their congregation understands it is every Christian's responsibility to share the Gospel with non-Christians, 61 percent of pastors said most of their congregants actually feel comfortable that they can share their belief in Christ to someone else effectively.
Other findings show that the overwhelming majority (98 percent) of pastors agree that most of their congregants consider the Bible authoritative and turn to it as the source of truth and wisdom for daily living and 85 percent of pastors agree that most of their church attendees read the Bible a few times a week or more.
Results of the survey are based on 2,614 responses that were received online and on paper through January 2009. The responses represent more than 20 percent of all AG churches in the U.S.