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From Belonging to Becoming: What if we put belonging first like Jesus did?

By: Mike Clarensau

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What to expect when visiting an Assemblies of God church.

Variety … that’s what you’ll find when you visit our services. But one thing you should expect in every Assemblies of God church is a personal, uplifting worship experience. Our services are geared for participation. We typically worship as we live, with enthusiasm.

Bible classes for all ages

Although church schedules vary, most Sundays usually begin with an hour-long Bible study known as Sunday school or Christian education. Personalized classes divided by age, grade and interests serve individuals from infants through senior adults.

Child care

A nursery generally is provided for infants and toddlers. This loving, comfortable atmosphere helps show children at the earliest ages that church is a good place to be. Child care also frees parents for worship and reduces distractions.

Children’s worship

Bible-oriented activities are often provided for preschool and elementary-age children. At this level, young children are taught to sing, pray, memorize Scripture and learn important Bible truths. They are instructed and led in worship at their own levels.

Facilities

Assemblies of God facilities are generally functional and practical, in keeping with our mission. Most Assemblies of God churches have platforms that also serve as altars, and incorporate a single pulpit where singing and prayer are led and the Word of God is preached.

Music

Music is a major feature of our worship, before, during and even after the service itself. Instruments may range from piano and organ to synthesizers, guitars, horns and drums, to full-scale orchestras.

Whatever the accompaniment, inspired singing is the order of the day. Any given service may include traditional hymns, hand-clapping gospel songs, contemporary compositions or reverent worshipful choruses.

Music will include both congregational and special ministries — solos, duets, ensembles, choirs, instrumentals. Assemblies of God churches make music more than a performance; it’s the music of worship.

Worship experience

The service may include quiet times of waiting in God’s presence, spiritually savoring the sacred atmosphere.

Other times may be vocal with collective praise as worshippers are invited to spontaneously express love and adoration to God.

In everything, a flow of worship should be evident and, despite the spontaneity and excitement, a certain properness and order.

Worship styles will reflect the spectrum of personalities. Some are quiet and reserved; some shout with joy; others are simply tender and openly emotional during times of praise or preaching.

No sincere worshipper need feel out of place in an Assemblies of God church. And each expression will blend without disruption into the flow of worship.

Prayer

A special time in the service is devoted to prayer. Needs from inside and outside the church family frequently are made known.

The congregation prays together. All may pray aloud but conclude with a single voice, the worship leader or other designated person praying in behalf of all.

Ministry to the sick

As in the New Testament, specific prayer may be offered for the sick. They will be invited forward to be anointed with oil (James 5:13-16) and/or have the ministers, leaders or other believers lay hands on them and pray (Mark 16:18).

Giving

During the service, tithes and offerings will be received. More than a collection to pay church bills, this too is worship.

Our members feel giving the tithe (the first tenth of income) and offerings declares that God comes first. It recognizes His blessing, expresses faith and seeks His guidance in every matter in life.

The ministries of the local church and globe-encircling work of the Assemblies of God are supported solely by free-will giving. However, visitors need not feel obligated to give.

Spiritual gifts

An interesting aspect of Assemblies of God worship is the operation of spiritual gifts. The planned service order may be suspended as individuals speak or share as prompted by the Holy Spirit, under the supervision of the pastor (1 Corinthians 12-14).

One may speak out in an unknown tongue, a Spirit-guided language other than that of the congregation. Another individual, or perhaps the same one, will then give the interpretation.

On occasion, the Spirit may prompt someone to speak out, to prophesy, in the language of the congregation. The gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation, and other spiritual gifts bring the church immediate challenge and confirm Bible truths.

Challenging messages

The climax of the service comes with the preaching of God’s Word, the Bible, and an invitation for hearers to respond. The messages are fervent, inspiring and practical.

The pastor or speaker may close with an invitation for those who need forgiveness in their lives to come forward and accept Christ as Savior. Those who feel a need to rededicate their lives to Christ or to pray about other concerns are also invited to come. Believers are urged to ask God for the baptism in the Holy Spirit to further empower them for Christian service. Often everyone is invited to come pray during the altar service.

Deep emotion and excitement may or may not be demonstrated at the altars, but everyone who calls on God in faith receives something.

If you’ve wondered what a Pentecostal service is like, we invite you to observe and experience God’s joy and peace that defy description. And when you visit again, come expecting. Expect a move of God not only in the service, but also in your life. We think you’ll agree that the comfort, help and strength He gives are better experienced than explained.