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As the world continues to vie for the attention of the younger generation, the Assemblies of God is one of the few U.S. denominations where young people are flocking. Statistics indicate approximately 40 percent of the Fellowship's more than 3 million adherents are 25 and younger.

"The Assemblies of God has historically done a good job of keeping the focus on the next generation," says Scott Berkey, children's pastor at Victory Worship Center (AG) in Tucson, Arizoma, and former national director of the Children's Ministries Agency. "When that comes from the top, it trickles down in different ways and in different capacities all the way to the local church level."

Now more than ever, Berkey says parents are doing their homework before they walk into a church with their families and choosing ones that place special emphasis on children. If the church is doing its job by helping children feel connected, then it's the children who will bring their parents back to the church, says Berkey.

"Today's parents predominantly go where their kids want them to go," Berkey says. "The buying power kids have today is unlike any generation before them, and the same holds true as to where they go to church."

Mark Entzminger, senior director for AG Children's Ministries, says this need for connection is of vital importance to children.

"Kids today want to belong and have a place where they fit in and are welcomed, loved, and accepted for who they are," Entzminger says. 

In addition to a nurturing environment, Entzminger says the AG is reaching a hands-on generation, and teaching methods should reflect this whenever possible.

One of the Fellowship's most successful evangelistic outreaches for children, MEGA Sports Camp, gives evidence of this trend. MEGA Sports Camp allows the worlds of sports and faith to collide with positive results. Entzminger says this Vacation Bible School-style outreach typically attracts children who aren't Christians or who come from an unchurched background. The result is often a number of families getting plugged into a local congregation.

When reaching those outside the church, Berkey says it's important to be strategic and create an environment where people want to come and experience why a church is different from other community children's events.

"What separates us from those events is the love of Jesus Christ," Berkey says. "The people in our churches are interacting and sharing the love of Christ with children."

After establishing a foundation built on the love of Christ, children then graduate into local youth ministries. Heath Adamson, senior director for AG Youth Ministries, says the Spirit-empowered gospel is what speaks to their hearts.

"We're firm believers that the most relevant thing today truly is the presence and the drawing of the Holy Spirit," Adamson says. "He always communicates in a language everybody understands, and it is His presence that becomes the impetus that crosses those invisible borders that separate generations."

Adamson says this movement of the Spirit was never intended to remain within the four walls of the church. Through the campus ministry of Youth Alive, students are intentionally being equipped to be salt and light in their schools and to identify key moments they can live out their faith, whether it's in science class or walking down the hall at school.

The goal, Adamson says, is for Youth Alive campus missionaries to not necessarily tell everybody about what they believe, but to have the courage to listen to somebody's story and, through the interaction of the Holy Spirit, allow God to open a door for them to share God's story.

The hope of the ministry is that the participating students will make an impact on the lives of those around them regardless of where their paths take them. Students not only make a difference; they become the difference.

Jay Mooney, executive director of COMPACT Family Services in Hot Springs, Arkansas, (AG) knows all too well the importance of being the difference in the lives of children and youth, particularly those in crisis.

Mooney says a child or youth who comes through the door of COMPACT immediately is shown the love of Christ. Mentors model consistent discipline and love.

Love was what greeted a 19-year-old woman from South Carolina who described herself as a scared, broken child when she stood on the doorstep of COMPACT's Highlands Maternity Home.

Molested as a young girl, she suffered from a sexual addiction that left her unmarried and pregnant; however, she says it was the love of God that changed her life.

From day one, Mooney says caregivers work with troubled children and youth from every angle to influence their lives and heal their wounds by ministering to their whole person — body, soul and spirit.

Such was the case with this young woman, who has ultimately come to experience God's grace and forgiveness.

"It's crazy how God ordered my steps," she says. "Highlands is where God began to turn my life around, and now God is walking me down the road so I can be who He's called me to be."

She is currently enrolled in school and has plans to pursue her credentials to become an AG missionary.

"It was just amazing the love that they had for me," she says. "They loved me past my attitude, and they loved me past my sin. They showed me how Christ sees me."

With this simple, yet timeless message, AG children's and youth ministries are successfully reaching out to and impacting a generation marked by constant change and advancement. 

"At the end of the day, love works," Adamson says. "Walking with Christ works."

Author: Shannon M. Nass, Pentecostal Evangel

 

 


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The Assemblies of God

The Assemblies of God was founded in 1914 in Hot Springs, Arkansas with 300 people at the founding convention. Today there are more than 12,700 churches in the U.S. with over 3 million members and adherents. There are more than 66 million Assemblies of God members worldwide, making the Assemblies of God the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination.

The U.S. Assemblies of God national offices are located at 1445 N. Boonville Avenue, Springfield, Missouri. It houses the denomination’s executive and administrative offices, service divisions and departments, and the Gospel Publishing House printing plant which produces over 10 tons of literature daily.

History And Polity Of The Assemblies Of God

Origin

Assemblies of God Headquarters

Assemblies of God National Offices 
Springfield, MO

The Assemblies of God, founded as a result of a religious revival which swept around the world in the early 1900’s, has become the largest Pentecostal group. It was organized in a constitutional convention at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1914.

Doctrine

Doctrinally, the church emphasizes personal salvation, water baptism, divine healing, the baptism with the Holy Spirit accompanied by the evidence of speaking in tongues, and the pre-millennial second coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible is recognized as the inspired word of God and provides the rule for faith and practice.

The church’s four-fold mission is expressed through

  1. Evangelism
  2. Discipleship
  3. Worship
  4. Compassion

Government

Assemblies of God government is a combination of congregational and Presbyterian principles. Each church is sovereign in the choice of pastor, owning and holding property, maintaining membership rolls, management of all local business or activities, and voluntary participation in denominational programs.

To assist local churches, 61 district councils (most following state boundaries) have been formed in the United States. Each district conducts an annual business meeting called a district council, and elects a district superintendent and other officers. District councils have oversight of churches and ministers in their areas.

There are 14 language districts in the United States, organized similar to but overlapping geographic districts.

The General Presbytery is the second highest policy-making body for the church and serves as an advisory board for the Assemblies of God. It meets annually.

Between these annual sessions, the church’s interests are cared for by a 20-member board of directors called the Executive Presbytery. This board includes the church’s top elected officials together with regional representatives and language and ethnic representatives.

The Assemblies of God is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA), the Pentecostal World Fellowship (PWF), and the World Assemblies of God Fellowship (WAGF).

General Council

The General Council is the biennial business meeting of the U.S. Assemblies of God. General Council is held to conduct important church business, elect top church officials, and to convene ministries and activities of the church. Voting membership at the General Council consists of all licensed and ordained ministers and a lay delegate elected from each local church. The next General Council meeting will convene in Orlando, Florida, August 3-7, 2015.

Statistics

Find statistics here.