Connections: Doug Clay
Mar. 16, 2014
Gratitude, Awe, Dependency
Doug Clay has served in key Assemblies of God leadership positions since 1989, including Ohio District youth director (1989-95), AG national youth director (1995-97), senior pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in Toledo, Ohio (1997-2004), Ohio District superintendent (2004-08), and since 2008 as general treasurer of the Fellowship. He spoke recently with Scott Harrup, managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, about the unique opportunities presented to the Assemblies of God during this year’s celebration of its centennial.
evangel: What is the significance of the Assemblies of God’s centennial year?
DOUG CLAY: It will only come around once in our lifetime. It’s appropriate and biblical for us to pause and give thanks to the Lord for what He’s done. The statistics are staggering as they relate to the missional fruitfulness of the Assemblies of God. But along with our gratitude for what God has already done, I believe we need to come together and cry out to God for a spiritual awakening.
Particularly in the United States, I believe we need an Azusa 2.0 — another spiritual movement out of which we will experience a new missional mandate to carry the gospel into pockets of darkness and reach out to those who have become calloused to the message of the gospel and disappointed by the institutional church! That’s my heart and my passion.
evangel: What can we expect as a Movement this year?
CLAY: A continued call. A continued passion. In fact, a continued call to nurture a passion to reach the lost. I don’t want to be so consumed with just managing ministry. I want to see, exponentially, people transformed and brought into the Kingdom!
When you look at this in the light of our core values regarding Jesus Christ as our Savior, Healer, Baptizer and Soon-Coming King, I personally have an expectation to see an increase in the miraculous through divine healing.
When you read of the Azusa Street meetings in Los Angeles in the early 1900s and see pictures of crutches along a wall and abandoned wheelchairs, I want to nurture a desire in my own heart to create time for God to perform the miraculous.
In recent years, we have certainly experienced Christ as Savior. We see that again and again in our church plants, for example. World events continually turn our eyes to Christ as Soon-Coming King. Holy Spirit baptisms continue to be very strong, particularly in some of our hallmark outreaches, such as family camps, youth retreats, and revival services.
But I’m praying and believing for a revival of the James 5:14,15 paradigm — anoint with oil, pray the prayer of faith, and see the miraculous.
evangel: With the upcoming World Assemblies of God Congress (Aug. 5-10 in Springfield, Mo.), what do you expect as an outgrowth of those meetings?
CLAY: A renewed commitment to who we are as a Fellowship, even with our varied backgrounds. The world is getting flat. We’re seeing an array of ministries becoming more effective around the globe. Compassion, for example, is just as effective here in the United States as in Africa.
So as the world Assemblies of God family comes here, they will be coming from regions of great need and of great victory. Whether it is poverty, or natural disasters, or health crises or societal repression, these delegates will gain a renewed sense of our common identity and our common reliance on Jesus Christ to address every one of these needs.
Yes, we have different cultural contexts, but we are all looking to Christ as our Savior, Healer, Baptizer and Soon-Coming King. I pray we not only catch a vision of who we are in Christ as a Fellowship, but renew our commitment to serve Him with the missional distinctives that have marked us this far.
evangel: How do you think our founders would have reacted had they known the Assemblies of God would reach 100?
CLAY: I’m not sure they had that in their comprehension. They lived with such a focus on the urgency of the second coming of Jesus they didn’t even set up retirement plans. They truly believed, and they operated from the daily vantage point, that “the Lord’s coming back.”
I would pray that I have that same urgency. Christ’s coming is imminent. It is very soon. That should lead us to a focused commitment to fulfill the Great Commission. I pray that would drive what we do, would drive our decision making, would drive any attempt to plan strategically.
evangel: How should today’s Assemblies of God Fellowship react to this milestone?
CLAY: First of all, in humble gratitude. There is no doubt this Fellowship has been a work of the Lord. The moment we try to grab hold of any of the credit, woe to us.
Second, we should maintain a sacred awe. If in the first 100 years God has accomplished what we experience today through yielded leadership, we have a sacred responsibility to not drop that which has been passed on to us. I constantly ask myself if I am operating with the kind of sacred awe and urgency I believe our forefathers had. Am I giving of myself in the same way?
Third, we need to maintain absolute dependency on the Holy Spirit, and I don’t mean that to sound like some Pentecostal “company line.” Truly, it’s “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6, KJV). We grabbed that verse as a Fellowship to be a catalyst for what we do. That verse has identified who we are.
So, in humble gratitude with a sacred awe and an awareness of our responsibility to people in the next century, I pray we would have a renewed dependency on the Spirit.
evangel: Any further thoughts?
CLAY: The Spirit’s anointing takes on a lot of different definitions from different preachers. But, simply put, for me the anointing is supernatural assistance to do what I cannot do on my own. It’s supernatural assistance to do ministry well. I pray that we would aggressively depend on the Spirit.
I think of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26. The writer says that as long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God granted him success. I would pray that the Assemblies of God with great fervency and intentionality would continue to seek the Lord and allow Him to continue to deliver the kind of Kingdom success He desires.