An example to follow
By Randy Hurst
Just three months ago, our worldwide fellowship passed a
significant milestone — 60 million members. The founding fathers of this
great missionary fellowship could hardly have imagined such growth in less than
a century of ministry.
In AG World Missions we are often asked why so many national
churches around the world are growing at such an amazing rate. A few months ago
in an Executive Presbytery meeting, leaders of our U.S. Fellowship asked World
Missions Executive Director John Bueno to bring a
report to their next meeting concerning why he believes such astounding growth
is taking place overseas compared with the U.S. church. At the request of the
Executive Presbytery, his response has been published as the cover story in
this month’s issue.
Not all church growth overseas occurs at the same rate, of
course. But a quick summary of countries experiencing marked growth indicates
Assemblies of God fellowships outside the United States grew
57 percent overall in members and adherents during the last eight years.
Specifically, 27 countries grew by at least 25 percent, 16 by at least 50
percent, 13 by at least 75 percent, and 24 by at least 100 percent. Significant
church growth is happening in all six regions in which AGWM strategically
focuses its mission. Some specific examples are South Africa, which grew more
than 1,000 percent; Cambodia, which grew 319 percent; Switzerland, which grew
155 percent; and Colombia, which grew 274 percent.
John’s analysis focuses on five principles and practices he
believes greatly affect church growth overseas and make an impact on
communities, regardless of where they are implemented.
What does John’s analysis mean for the U.S. church and to
each of us as believers?
1. We should determine what we can learn from what’s happening
in the world and how it applies to our own priorities.
2. We must pray for America — for our national church
leaders, for our pastors, and for the Holy Spirit’s help in realigning our
lives and ministries in whatever ways necessary to accomplish God’s purposes.
John’s final question of the article is critical: Are we
willing to pay the necessary price to see the church in America experience the
abundant growth taking place in so many other places throughout the world?
RANDY HURST is communications director for AG World
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.