Introduction: Believing God for Greater Things
By George Paul Wood
The founders of the Assemblies of God were audacious people. At the 2nd General Council in 1914, at the Stone Church in Chicago, they committed themselves and the Movement to Him “for the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen.” That was big talk coming from a few hundred people with limited resources, education, and opportunities.
Ninety-nine years later, the Assemblies of God worldwide is no longer a few hundred people but approximately 65 million strong. We are part of an uncoordinated revival — uncoordinated by men and women, anyway — that had multiple starts in many places around the world: Wales, India, the Korean peninsula, and, of course, Azusa Street. Today, one of every four Christians in the world is Pentecostal or charismatic. The growth of the Assemblies of God specifically and Pentecostalism generally is impressive. Arguably, the Pentecostal revival is one of the greatest people movements in history.
There is a tendency in people movements, including spiritual revivals, to lose momentum over time. They are birthed, they grow, they stagnate, they decline, and then they die. From a historical perspective, this seems natural because it happens so often. The question the Assemblies of God — especially in the United States, but also around the world — needs to ask itself as it approaches its centennial is whether this tendency will be our own.
I hope, for the sake of the world, that we answer with a resounding “No!” Pentecostals and charismatics may number approximately 1 out of every 4 Christians globally, but approximately 2 out of 3 people in the world are not Christians. There is no pride in being the growing piece of a shrinking pie.
Instead, I hope we offer a resounding “Yes!” to God and to His mission for us to the world. I hope, in other words, that as we end our first century and begin our second, the same Spirit that fanned into flame the faith of the Assemblies of God founders will fan into flame that same faith in us. The greatest evangelism the world has ever seen is not over; it has barely begun.
The theme of the 55th General Council is Believe. In line with that theme, we asked the Executive Leadership Team of the Assemblies of God to share with you what they are believing God for. We asked them to share these things because they lead our Fellowship. But we also want their essays to spark a fire of faith in your own heart. It is not enough to follow the faith-filled dreams of your leaders. You must have faith in God for your life, your home, and your ministry.
The founders of the Assemblies of God were audacious people. We need to be audacious people in our own generation. So, what are you believing God for?