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General Superintendent Urges Fellowship to Finish Strong

The Assemblies of God has a rich heritage, but the Fellowship must rely on the Holy Spirit to avoid succumbing in a post-Christian culture, General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask said in his keynote address Wednesday night at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The Assemblies of God has a rich heritage, but the Fellowship must rely on the Holy Spirit to avoid succumbing in a post-Christian culture, General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask said in his keynote address Wednesday night at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The rousing evening service featured an extended worship time led by Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong Worship Team from Sydney, Australia. Hundreds of worshipers stood in the aisle because the 12,000 seats in the auditorium were filled.

"The challenge for us as a Fellowship is not to revel in past victories or be content with where we are, but the challenge lies in how will we finish the mission that God has ordained for us," Trask said. He warned against allowing success to lead to apathy and lethargy.

Trask said the Assemblies of God must continue to embrace the Great Commission. "Across our Fellowship there are many of our churches that are experiencing excellent growth," Trask said. "But far too many Assemblies of God churches in America haven’t seen anyone saved at their altars this past biennium. That cannot be. That should not be in a Pentecostal church."

The general superintendent, elected Tuesday to a third four-year term, said clergy and laity must be mobilized and trained for effective cross-culture evangelism. "It is right that we take this gospel outside of our sanctuaries into the streets, parks, inner cities, highways and byways," Trask said. "We must care for them, feed them, clothe them and minister unto them. Let us not wait for them to come to us."

In an effort to help congregations understand how churches need to respond to a changing society, Trask said district superintendents have been asked to launch a program called "Operation Help." Under the plan, the Fellowship hopes to start 1,002 new Assemblies of God places of worship during the next three years. In addition, the Assemblies of God hopes to rescue 600 churches in danger of closing during the next three years.

Hillsongs worship pastor Darlene Zschech, composer of Shout to the Lord, leads a joyous and packed auditorium Wednesday night. The Spirit-led service included expanded times of worship at the beginning and end.

"I’m here to tell you the Assemblies of God is in trouble," Trask said. "The U.S. church has plateaued." For the first time in history, the Fellowship has a critical shortage of pastors, he said. Operation Help is designed to enlist 3,400 new ordained, licensed, certified and specialized licensed ministers annually. "Let’s not sit comfortably back and say the task is complete. It’s not how we start out. It’s about how we finish."

Local bodies also need to make discipleship a priority, the general superintendent said. Likewise, true worship involves both the heart and the head, he said. Trask urged church members who had gathered to find new ways to cooperate with other Christians. "We must get outside the walls of Assemblies of God churches. We must demonstrate a spirit of cooperation."

The kingdom of God is bigger than the Assemblies of God, Trask noted. Therefore the overall goal of building Christendom should be the passion of every believer. He urged pastors to release their Spirit-filled laity to ministry roles.

Pentecostal believers should rely on the Holy Spirit, not financial resources or polished abilities, Trask stressed. Those who stray from the Holy Spirit and Scripture are in danger of not only weakening themselves but the church as a whole, he warned. Trask said the problem is not with doctrine, which has held steady for the Fellowship’s 87 years.

But too many Assemblies of God attendees are unfamiliar with biblical truths, Trask said. He cited a recently released Barna Research Group opinion poll. Assemblies of God respondents showed a higher degree of theological soundness than most other evangelical bodies, but Trask said he nonetheless is disturbed by the results. Among the findings: 77 percent of Assemblies of God adherents believed the Bible is totally accurate, 70 percent thought Christ was sinless and only 56 percent considered Satan real.

El Trio De Hoy, originally fro Puerto Rico, performs at the evening service.

"We need to build some fences and walls around our people today so they are doctrinally sound," Trask said. "Too many don’t know what they believe."

Trask challenged audience members to examine their personal spiritual condition. He said hunger for God should take precedence above pleasure, success and prosperity because the work of the Kingdom is eternal. The Assemblies of God isn’t a business looking for short-term gains, he said. "How will we as a Fellowship finish?" Trask asked as he called pastors to the altar. "Let it not be said that God used to be with the Assemblies of God."

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.