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PE Conversations: Church Ministries

Alton Garrison explains the importance of training local congregational leaders.

Editor’s note: Assistant General Superintendent L. Alton Garrison has resumed oversight of Assemblies of God Church Ministries, a portfolio that includes activities of adult, youth, and children’s ministries, as well as outreaches such as Speed the Light, Boys & Girls Missionary Challenge, and Light for the Lost. Garrison has been a member of the six-member AG Executive Leadership Team (ELT) since 2005, first as director of U.S. Missions and for the past decade-plus as assistant general superintendent. While directing Church Ministries, Garrison will continue to lead Acts 2 Journey. Garrison recently spoke with PE News Editor John W. Kennedy.

PE NEWS: Why does the Assemblies of God need Church Ministries?

ALTON GARRISON: Eighty-four percent of our churches are under 200 people; 66 percent are under 100. While larger churches have a certain autonomy when it comes to discipling and training, these smaller churches cannot write their own curriculum. We have a tremendous opportunity to help with scope and sequence in trying to re-establish and restore biblical literacy.

PE NEWS: What are the Fellowship’s goals for Church Ministries?

GARRISON: One of the main objectives of our vision and mission statement at the national office is to serve the local church, through the districts and networks. We want to make sure we assist, resource, and encourage them. All of the Church Ministries teams must be on the same page. General Superintendent Doug Clay has made biblical literacy a top priority. Now with General Treasurer Rick DuBose overseeing publishing, there is even greater collaboration over marketing, publishing, and Church Ministries.

PE NEWS: Do you have specific objectives for Church Ministries?

GARRISON: My vision is for the discipling process to be more cradle to grave, rather than just children, youth, and adults doing their own thing. We’ve found in the Acts 2 Journey a propensity for these three generations to be on different tracks. We’d like to see that synergized. We will not take away the uniqueness of the age components, but we will help parents to become disciplers so that it starts in the home. We believe that could change the landscape of the Church.

PE NEWS: How is the Acts 2 Journey going?

GARRISON: Church Ministries and Acts 2 really work hand in hand. We’ve seen over 1,000 churches in the United States engage in the Acts 2 Journey. Of the declining churches that participated, 62 percent are no longer declining once they began to implement their strategic plan. We have 10 people in the U.S. conducting the Acts 2 Journey. Our goal is to train people in the networks and the districts who can actually implement the process at those levels. We also are hoping to train 1,000 trainers who can teach the model worldwide, and potentially impact 100,000 churches globally.

PE NEWS: Are you encouraged by where you see the Assemblies of God headed?

I’m the longest-tenured ELT member, and I’ve never been more hopeful than I am right now. I believe God has uniquely designed this present team to be together at this time. There is an anticipation of a move that is not only strategic but spiritual. We are facing challenges, but we are trusting God to help us.”