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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Assemblies of God Executive Officers

General Council and Beyond

This week in Phoenix, the Assemblies of God’s six executive officers will speak to the thousands of ministers, delegates and guests gathered for the Fellowship’s 54th General Council. Four members of the leadership team recently visited with Ken Horn and Scott Harrup, editor and managing editor, to share their vision for the 54th General Council and the continuing legacy of the Assemblies of God.

evangel: This is a unique speaking schedule for General Council. How did that come about?

General Superintendent George O. Wood: Most pastors get a chance every week to address their congregations. I get a chance once every two years to speak to the ministers I serve, and the other officers seldom get a chance to address the whole Fellowship.

This team has worked so closely together and has been so complementary to one another in terms of their gift mix, friendship bonds and preaching, I felt each member of the team needed to be front and center at this Council.

So I’ll give the lead-off message on Tuesday night. Alton Garrison will speak at the 10:30 a.m. Wednesday service, and Wednesday night will be in honor of John Bueno. Jim Bradford will preach Thursday night. Zollie Smith will chair the U.S. Missions luncheon on Friday, and Doug Clay will speak Friday night.

evangel: What are some additional new elements at this Council?

WOOD: I’m excited about the integration of Fine Arts and the General Council. We did this for the first time last Council where Thursday and Friday nights the youth are with us. Monday and Tuesday nights are also the kickoffs for the Influence Conference and those great speakers this year.

This will be the first Council in which we’ve basically rolled out the one-company model in terms of all of our departments and divisions at the national offices working together to present a united focus to the whole constituency. I especially am excited about the way we are changing the exhibit hall to reflect that unity and offer both personnel and material resources to those who come.

General Secretary James Bradford: I think in the big picture, people are going to feel an integration — all the pieces of what we do centered around the help of the local church and its leaders. We’ll have the new Influence Publishing imprint, the revitalized exhibit area and other elements designed to make us more of a resource to the Fellowship. Serving the Fellowship is a really high value for us at this Council.

General Treasurer Doug Clay: The Friday night service is designed to challenge students to discover and to chase their dreams, but we also want to see the adults there become dream releasers. We want to create an environment in which they lead and allow a young dreamer to have his or her dream released. I’ve written my new book, Dreaming in 3D, to get this message out.

David said in Psalm 71:18, “Lord, don’t forsake me when I’m old and gray until I declare your power to the next generation.” There is great value and strength in having the generations come together. Young people can have a great appreciation for the heritage and wisdom of the elder saints, and the elder saints can see the intensity, the passion, the enthusiasm that a student culture has to make their lives count for God.

evangel: Discipleship relies on that connection between the generations, and continues to be a major focus for the Fellowship. Brother Garrison, General Council will continue to highlight the Acts 2 Process that you oversee. What do you see happening with that theme?

Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison: We’re concentrating on a first-century church model. The Acts 2 Process is based upon Holy Spirit empowerment. We read in Acts 2 how on the Day of Pentecost the baptism in the Holy Spirit came. Multitudes were asking, “What does this mean?” The apostle Peter gave a biblical explanation of the Baptism’s meaning, showing that the events in the Upper Room were prophesied by Joel.

Like Peter, we are emphasizing Holy Spirit empowerment, and then connecting people with five basic functions of worship, fellowship, discipleship, gift-oriented ministry and evangelism. We call it worship, connect, grow, serve and go. The functions are not linear as some models are. We want to show people how they can plug into each function.

evangel: Why is supportive prayer so important to General Council?

CLAY: General Council is not just an opportunity for fellowship and inspiration. It is an opportunity for us to affirm, amend or even create legislation that helps move the church forward. I think it’s important for us to be praying that the will of the Lord is accomplished in not only resolutions and pieces of legislation, but that His will can be expressed through our ministers and laity as carriers of the vision.

WOOD: We have a lot of strategic issues coming this General Council. Besides various elections, we have a number of vital resolutions, including a proposal to bring more women and young ministers on the General Presbytery and a proposal to bring consolidation to our three Springfield schools. These are weighty issues, and we want God’s will and God’s way in them.

I would also encourage people to pray for the thousands of young people at General Council. This will be a life-changing experience for them as they participate in Fine Arts. And pray that Council will be a great encouragement to the pastors and ministers and lay delegates who attend, that the services will be inspirational, motivational and life changing. May there be altar services where people really meet the Lord in a fresh way in their life.

GARRISON: When I travel in districts and in individual churches, I sense such a hunger, a receptivity, a passion, to a degree I haven’t seen in some time. People are fasting and praying like never before. They’re exercising spiritual disciplines. This is vital, not only for General Council but for the life of our Fellowship.

BRADFORD: We really want it to be a spiritually impactful conference beyond what we can produce. That’s only the product of prayer and faith and being open to God’s Spirit. I was just thinking about Fine Arts the other day. There are going to be thousands and thousands of kids. Let’s pray this will be a very spiritually impacting experience for our youth as well.

evangel: What do you want to see pastors take away from this Council?

WOOD: This is really a time for harvest in America, and we need to go away from General Council with a sense that God has called us as the Assemblies of God to take the gospel to America and to continue taking it around the world. There are 17,000 identifiable communities in America without a single Assemblies of God church. We need a fresh passion continually for evangelism, for church planting, for church revitalization. And I would like people to walk away from Council grateful they belong to this Fellowship and are a part of all that God is doing through it.

BRADFORD: I want pastors to take away faith that they can make a difference in their communities, faith that their church can be healthy, faith that God will bring the resources they need. I also want them not to feel alone when they leave, that we as a Fellowship are working hard to resource them so that their church and the leaders they work with in that church can be healthy and missionally effective.

CLAY: I would pray that, as a result of Council, pastors would be baptized with a spirit of joy about being called into the ministry. That they would take away a renewed sense of mission. That they would be inspired by seeing the large number of students there and would work harder than ever to make sure we’re passing on not just a faith, but a church that works and is healthy and can live on.

evangel: That focus on legacy is even more front and center as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Assemblies of God. How will Council serve as a springboard for that emphasis?

WOOD: The 2011 General Council looks forward to 2014 and our 100th anniversary. During these next four years, we will highlight our four core mission statements: discipleship (2011), compassion (2012), worship (2013) and evangelism as we celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2014. The focus on evangelism will be even more significant as we invite the world to come to Springfield in August 2014 to celebrate the anniversary and conclude with the World Assemblies of God Congress.

CLAY: God has brought us here, and it’s been nothing short of the miraculous blessing of God. As we look to the future, I pray we will continue to have exponential growth and effectiveness in the area of building the church worldwide. And I would like to see the same growth right here in America. I am praying for a spiritual awakening in the U.S. church.

BRADFORD: This is very much a past/future event. Who will be a part of shaping the next 100 years? It’s not a building in Springfield, Mo., that will shape the next 100 years; it’s the contributions of every church, every pastor, every volunteer leader in the churches. Make Your Mark is what we’re really trying to emphasize. It’s a composite investment of everybody that shapes the next 100 years. What they do is significant to what we will become.

GARRISON: Dr. Wood has really put his finger on the pulse of the matter when he says that we have an initial physical evidence called speaking in tongues, but we also need to have a continuing evidence. When you see the conflict that is happening in the spiritual world — we don’t talk about it much in the United States, but overseas they do because they’re facing real live problems — you realize people are hungry for a power that’s greater than their own. I believe the power of the Spirit is going to drive, is going to encourage, is going to facilitate our continued vibrant life as a Fellowship.


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2013 Connections

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2011 Connections

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