Assemblies of God


#1

What do the Assemblies of God teach? I’m curious b/c my boyfriend’s family are members of that denomination.


#2

www.ag.org

Based on my experience (my family attended an Assembly of God church for a number of years about 20 years ago)–very conservative, literalist interpretation of the Bible, praying and speaking in tongues (being “slain in the Spirit”) very important, charismatic in nature, not very interested in interfaith or even interdenominational dialogue. It is possible that there may be more liberal churches in the denomination, but I have not yet encountered any of them. Lots of talk of more traditional churches (even other Protestant) being “dead” in spirit. Services could get very emotional, emphasis on being “Spirit-filled.” Definitely evangelical.


#3

we have two AG congregations nearby who aggressively target and recruit our kids, and they are overtly, publicly and aggressively anti-Catholic, including use of public media for their attacks.
They also target members of more main-stream Protestant congregations in our area, especially those perceived as being rather liberal.

It is inconceivable to me that a relationship between AG and Catholic persons could be successful, if for no other reason the AG would place great pressure on their member to convert the Catholic, and would frown on such a relationship.


#4

A friend of mine who is Catholic, teaches at a Christian school…which is mainly a pentecostal /AOG population.

I was shocked to learn that she is banned from teaching anything about pre-historic periods. Apparently they teach their children that the earth is only 7,000 years old, and that dinosaurs walked side-by-side with men…

I don’t know if this is what all people of this faith believe…that is the flavor of belief in my neck of the woods. It seems dangerous to teach, if the children go to college they’ll learn differently, and maybe loose their faith in God alltogether:(


#5

Yep that’s certainly true.

The Hillsong church in Australia, which is the Aussie senior AOG church, really insulted me once with it’s TV program, when Brian Houston(Leader of AOG in Australia) decided it was about time to make jokes over John Paul the 2nd’s personal Vatican Security methods and about how long it takes to get in to see the Pope. It seemed to be “lets all laugh at the Vatican and their now deceased Pope Day” at hillsong. The only reason I caught this program is because it rather funnily is on directly after “Catholic Mass for you at home”. Good Programming by channel 10 that one is!

I promptly sent Hillsong a letter that asked the obvious question, it was something to do with a certain event that occured in the early 80s. I may have been rather blunt, but the question needed to be asked and my point needed to get through. I got the standard “we don’t care” response:
thank you for your nice letter, if you would like to know more about Hillson TV, go to our website.


#6

Depends on the person. She says her boyfriend’s family is AG, doesn’t necessarily mean he is. Also depends on his relationship with his family, his age, how involved he and his family are on these sorts of matters, the personalities involved, etc. If he is at home or still dependent on his parents, then, yes, it will likely be a big issue. If he is a self-supporting adult, potentially different matter. A lot depends on whether he allows his family to make life decisions for him or chooses to take the responsibility for making them himself and dealing with the consequences.

Now, is it always going to be an issue to factor in? Yes. She needs to be prepared that if they marry, have children and raise them Catholic, it is entirely possible that his side of the family will refuse to set foot in a Catholic church for things like baptism, first communion, etc–religious rites of passage. They may not, though, as grandchildren have been known to soften the hardest hearts.

Also, in the above situation, unless the boyfriend is willing to set his foot down over the way his wife and children are treated, things could be rough. My advice, if the two get serious about each other, is to start the way you mean to continue–not allowing snarky, hurtful comments or attempts to guilt trip or manipulate over religion. It is possible for people of very opposing religious views to get along if they both want to do so.


#7

My husband was born and raised Assembly of God. In another thread, I stated that it is very important to obey our Catechism of the Catholic Church and try to keep dialogue going between us and AGers. My husband says that it was very easy for him to accept a lot of the miracle teachings of the Catholic Church (e.g., transubstantiation, the appearances of Mary and the saints, etc.) because he was used to seeing miracles in the AG. We think that AGers, of all the Protestants, are most open to becoming Catholic. (e.g., Tim Staples). So PLEASE try to continue being friends with any AGers that you know.

Keep in mind that most of them have absolutely NO teaching about doctrine, history, even the BIble. It’s a very “experiential” denomination. Much of the worship service is taken up with singing, praising, praying. Although there are Bible studies, they are often just more times to praise and pray, and the teaching is usually a rehash of something we already know, e.g., “God is So Good!”

My point is, if a knowledgeable Catholic talks to an AGer, the AGer doesn’t last long. They don’t have any “weapons.” A few Bible verses, a few catch phrases, a few incorrect misconceptions about Catholicism, and that’s it.

But the AGer has something that I wish we all had–a deep desire to dedicate their life to the Lord and serve Him and Him alone. They are very open to the Holy Spirit. They truly LOVE Jesus! So an AGer will be more likely to listen to a knowledgeable Catholic and allow the Holy Spirit to convict them.

One of the major doctrines in the AG is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is a “second work” of the Holy Spirit. The believer prays, usually with others, for the Baptism, and when he/she receives the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is evidenced by speaking in tongues.

This doctrine is still listed in the AG Statement of Faith.

However, in the last few years, my husband and I have noticed that the very large AG church in our city has “softened up” on all their doctrine.

They no longer call their church a “church,” but it is now called “The Community.” They have a coffee shop, a cafeteria, and a bookstore, and they advertise constantly for the public to drop in.

They have “seeker friendly” services featuring rock bands and a lot of singing and emional “experiences,” along with “Preaching Lite.”

Theiroctrine is never mentioned. My daughter actually attended high school for a year at their very large and thriving school, but never once did she hear any mention of AG doctrine.

It seems that the major emphasis, at least at the AG church in our city, is attracting new people, and they try very hard not to teach or preach anything that will scare people away.

Unfortunately for them, it seems to be backfiring, just as it did when the mainline churches started going soft and dropping doctrine back in the 1970s.

A “Willow Creek” spinoff (nondenominational) has moved into town, and within the last few years, has grown to many thousands of people. Many of these people exited other large churches in the city, including the AG church.(And sadly, many of the Willow Creek attendees are from smaller churches, which will eventually have to close their doors when they can no longer afford to keep their church open or pay their pastor.)

Two AG pastors have quit (or perhaps been asked to leave?) in the last three years because of the steady decline in their church’s membership and attendance.

So I believe the AG churches are “in trouble.” The non-denoms are taking over, and they will have to come up with a new strategy to remain viable.


#8

WOW…thanks for this very informative post. You are my teacher for the day:p


#9

My mother, who is Catholic, is marrying a man who is Assembly of God, and she has chosen to convert. I don’t know how much of it is his influence and how much of it is her desire to please him, but I do know that there is at least one Catholic who has been lead away from Jesus’ Church.


#10

This doesn’t sound like any AoG I have attended (I’m a current member of the AoG.)

Keep in mind that most of them have absolutely NO teaching about doctrine, history, even the BIble. It’s a very “experiential” denomination. Much of the worship service is taken up with singing, praising, praying. Although there are Bible studies, they are often just more times to praise and pray, and the teaching is usually a rehash of something we already know, e.g., “God is So Good!”

AoG has been around awhile and has LOTS of bible teaching. One of the reasons I chose to go there was the in depth Bible teaching.

If the one you are talking about no longer calls itself a Church I’d bet they broke away from the AoG.


#11

I was a member for 20 years, so I can attest to this. Although (you knew there’d be an although :wink: ) the Bible is interpreted literalistically not literally, which is why some of their teachings are shallow or off the mark. And, books/verses that do not help support their teachings are either ignored or glossed over–a major fault for any group that claims to be Bible-based.

If the one you are talking about no longer calls itself a Church I’d bet they broke away from the AoG.

Maybe, but not necessarily. The AoG is a very loose organization of like-minded churches. If calling itself a “community” is what the pastor thinks will bring in more people, then he is free to do that. Whatever works was what I experienced in the AoG.


#12

Syele, no, they haven’t broken away from the AG. Our aunt and uncle are still active members there and have been all their lives.

The church is still AG. They are using a strategy that quite a few evangelical churches are using, i.e., becoming more “seeker friendly.”

My husband and I learned about this trend back in the late 1990s, when we were members of a thriving Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. We attended a conference where we were taught that many churches are changing the names of their churches to “Bible Church” or “Community Church” or “Friendship Center” in order to attract non-churched people.

Adding bookstores, pre-schools, coffee shops, and cafes are other strategies that evangelicals are using to attract more people.

There’s nothing wrong with it, and it doesn’t compromise the Gospel.

I think the softening of the doctrine is probably another strategy to attract the unchurched (or to draw churched people away from their churches). Most modern people aren’t interested in doctrine, they just want to go somewhere where they are “fed” and where “their needs are met.” It doesn’t take “doctrine” to meet needs, it takes Jesus.

You say your AG church doesn’t do any of this. Perhaps what’s made the difference in our city is the presence of the “Willow Creek” spinoff.

WIllow Creek in nearby Barrington attracts 20,000 (twenty thousand) people to it’s Sunday seeker services. Our spinoff is trying for the same numbers.

Please don’t misinterpret me. The spinoff is not evil or unChristian. In fact, during the Katrina/Rita disaster, this church led the way in our city’s relief efforts, and our Catholic church volunteered to help them.

It is a Christian church. One (Protestant) minister had a very good assessment of the spinoff. He said it’s a good place for people to go to “hide” if they’ve been hurt by their church. When they recover, they will be ready to move on to a more “traditional” church, but in the meantime, the spinoff keeps them safe in the Lord.

The spinoff is having a very strong effect on the other evangelical/charismatic churches in the area. We have heard discussion (back when we were Protestant) that a couple of thousand people have left the AG church (which formerly had well over 5000 people in attendance on Sunday) and gone to the spinoff.

The AG church is not the only church affected. The largest EFree church in town not only lost a large number of people (we’ve heard a thousand or more), but also their pastor is now one of the local pastors of the spinoff.

The evangelical church (Conference Baptist) that I grew up in has lost many hundreds of people to the spinoff, and both of their pastors have quit.

And as I mentioned, lots of little Protestant churches have seen an exodus of perhaps half their members to this spinoff. This is a crisis for them.

The mainlines in our city have struggled for years, and the spinoff will probably kill some of them off entirely. Frankly, I don’t really mind. Many of these mainline churches have taught a false Gospel (e.g., Jesus didn’t literally rise from the dead) for many decades, and I would love to see them close their doors and stop deceiving people.

Perhaps that’s why the AG church in our city has “gone soft.” They have a huge infrastructure, and they simply can’t afford to lose another thousand people to the Willow Creek spinoff.

And if your AG church doesn’t have a spinoff threatening them, that may explain why you are still benefiting from their more traditional AG teachings and methods.


#13

I attended an AoG church just before I decided to become Catholic. My cousin is still a pastor over there. I didn’t even know they were pentecostal until after I jumped into the Tiber. The Sunday services were always overly emotional, but I never saw anybody speaking in tongues or get slain in the spirit. They’re not that anti-Catholic either; my cousin asked if he could come to my confirmation and his wife told me once that we worship the same God. (I sort of get the feeling that they don’t beleive I’ll be Catholic for long though, like this is a ‘phase’).

Theirs is the largest church in my city. A very common response to “Where do you go to church?” Is “First Assembly of God, Akers campus” (they have two). They have a very active youth group, but they do seem to be very into the ‘latest and greatest’. They have a coffee shop in…well, the narthex but I don’t know what they’d call it. They have huge screens in their church, lots of lights and host big events all the time. Their services are very much geared towards music, the music is very important. Actually, all they have is the music and the pastor speaking.

So with AoG, it depends on the church, I think.


#14

I can only speak about the AG congregations with which I am familiar. They are Pentecostal, not Evangelical in focus and methods, and local Evangelical pastors, including those who broadcast on local radio, are quite critical of AG teaching, methods and theology. AG pastors are likewise critical of Evangelicals, apparently for what they define as failure to welcom the charisms of the Holy Spirit into the Church. Also the AGs are among the fastest growing “communities”, and the ones doing the most with youth and young adults groups and ministries. The bible study materials I have seen–and their studies are very popular in the neighborhoods, one of the few groups offering a lot in Spanish–are very fundamentalist in outlook and reject most mainstream biblical scholarship, and of course, specifically condemn Catholic interpretation of say, John 6 and similar passages.


#15

Can’t address AG as a whole, but my sister became involved with the son of an AG minister. The biggest impression was the lack of formal education across the board, from the minister on through the congregation. She said services were very emotion-driven, with lots of amens and halleluyas if anyone said anything in any language other than English.

Many years later, a civic responsibility that took me to a Sunday evening session at an AG church. The aura of limited education was rampant as they ordained an assistant minister who was a high school dropout and whose “credentials” were that he had given up smoking, learned some Bible verses, and often babbled incoherently due to an unfortunate speech impediment.

They were very cordial to me even knowing I am Catholic and did not include anything in their service that could be considered as anti-Catholic.


#16

Thankyou for this…i have a few friends in this church and at least one of them is [possibly] anti-catholic. You are right about the form of worship…its all about praise and worship with very little structure at all. This is possibly why we often only see younger people being attracted to this ‘style’ of worship…hip and trendy. Have a look at a Hillsong dvd and it seems like a youth aerobics class busy praising GOD…OLDIES ARE OUT !:confused: I am also not at all surprised that these churches are so vigorous in their recruitment efforts , after all the members pay the salaries of the pastors as well as running costs. Does anyone know the history behind this church !!!


#17

**This is possibly why we often only see younger people being attracted to this ‘style’ of worship…hip and trendy. **

Note that this is not the only “style” of worship in AoG churches. The ones in this area, from small to huge, also have less “trendy” services. Also depends on your definition of “younger.”

A huge statistical report from 2004 is at
ag.org/top/about/Statistical_Report_2004.pdf

The largest age group represented consistently in the US churches is the 35-49 group, so I don’t know if that fits your definition of “younger”.In most of the districts, from a brief glance over the info, the percentages for the 25-34 and for the 50-64 group are not hugely different from each other and both are substantially larger usually than the 18-24 numbers.

**I am also not at all surprised that these churches are so vigorous in their recruitment efforts , after all the members pay the salaries of the pastors as well as running costs. **

And they take very seriously the biblical injunction to proselytize. The teaching is definitely there that you may be the only Christian that a particular unbeliever encounters–if you do not witness to them and they are lost, it is at least partially on your shoulders.

The official website lists at the top “our mission: evangelism, worship and discipleship.”

Does anyone know the history behind this church ???!

Well, I posted a link to their organizational home page at the beginning of the thread, www.ag.org. I would think that might be a good place to start. Here’s the specific page where they list their history:
ag.org/top/about/history.cfm

Looks like they began as part of the third Great Awakening in the US en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening


#18

I used to attend that church. Then, I left because they told me I am not saved, because I do not have the gift of speaking in tongues. They also told me that I am demon possesed, because I am epileptic, that is a nerological disorder.


#19

Here in a nutshell is the history of the Assemblies of God.

In 1906, the Azusa Street revival took place in California, evidenced by speaking in tongues. The movement swept across the U.S., and many churches from many denominations had members who were “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and began speaking in tongues.

Pentecostal churches grew out of this revival. The 100th Anniversary of Azusa Street was celebrated last year by Christians.

A.B. Simpson was a Presbyterian (Calvinist) minister who had a heart for foreign missions. He started an organization to help churches of all denominations increase their recruitment and support base for foreign missionaries, and in 1897, this organization became it’s own denomination called The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

To this day the Christian and MIssionary Alliance, or C&MA, sends the highest percentage per membership of missionaries overseas of ANY denomination. Many of the C&MA churches designate 50% of their total budget to foreign missions. Although the C&MA churches in the U.S. tend to be rather small, overseas, many of the C&MA churches could be called megachurches, with memberships in the 1000s.

In case you are wondering if the C&MA has ever produced a “celebrity,” have you ever heard of A.W. Tozer? He was and still is one of the most popular Protestant Christians who has ever lived. He was a C&MA pastor. I’ve even seen his writings quoted in our Catholic church.

Also, Ravi Zacharias is a C&MA ordained evangelist.

(BTW, I was a member of a C&MA church for ten years, and our church spent about 50% of the budget on foreign missions.)

In the early years of the C&MA, the movement was influenced by the Pentecostal movement, just like many other churches were affected. Eventually, a group of C&MA members split away and formed The Assemblies of God.

This split was not a vindictive one, but was born of convictions that could not be reconciled. (E.g., the Assemblies of God believe in that baptism of the Holy Spirit is accompanied by the “evidence” of speaking in tongues, while the C&MA believe that the Holy Spirit will give spiritual gifts according to HIS plan, not as “evidence”.)

There are recorded accounts of the actual parting of the two groups which claim that tears flowed and there were many embraces and prayers. This was not a nasty split, but it was a sad one for the brothers and sisters involved.

To this day, the Assemblies of God has one of the largest foreign missions programs of all the Protestant churches. Like mother, like daughter!

So that’s the history: Presbyterian to C&MA to Assemblies of God.


#20

It is my experience that AG are experience orinated and as such every wind of doctrine passes through their congregations, run from them before it is too late.

Try inviting him to your church to meet knowledgable catholics.


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