(Photo: Courtesy Cornerstone Church)
A Pentecostal fellowship ended up opening more churches in the United States of America in 2011 than there were days in the year.
According to its records, the Assemblies of God, a denomination with around 3 million members, opened up 368 new churches in 2011.
Pastoral training and funding for these endeavors came through the Assemblies of God’s “Church Multiplication Network,” which is a department in the organization’s National Leadership and Resource Center.
“The reason this all matters is because new churches are incredibly effective at helping people far from God begin to follow Jesus,” said Steve Pike, national director of the Church Multiplication Network, in an interview with The Christian Post.
“CMN equips, funds and networks AG church planting projects from a national perspective.”
Pike attributed this growth to “a strong sense of dependency on and expectation of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.”
“Starting new churches is an incredibly challenging endeavor and we passionately believe that effective planting is best done by Spirit empowered leaders,” said Pike. “We do believe that strategies and plans are important, but without God’s anointing, strategies and plans can’t produce a vigorous church.”
Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood’s leadership also played a strong role in their church-planting success last year, Pike highlighted.
“Dr. Wood didn’t stop with just saying that starting churches was a value,” said the director. “He took a hard look at our organization and recognized that our actions were not lined up with our values. So he set in motion a serious effort to re-align our actions with our stated values.”
Michelle Dunn, director of Communications and PR for Phoenix First Assembly of Arizona, an Assembly church with a weekly attendance of over 17,000, agreed that leadership was crucial.
“The Assemblies of God leadership made a decision to be open to creative ways of ministering that are relevant to our culture,” Dunn in an interview with CP.
“We must meet people where they are in order to minister to their needs. Jesus' ministry on earth was always about people and that is also our mission and focus.”
Pastor Maury Davis of Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tenn., which has approximately 4,000 weekly attendees, told CP that the Assemblies of God’s flexibility in its system is what helps contribute to their success.
Davis explained that as a fellowship, the Assemblies of God “does not require the rigidity” of a denomination and thus “allows us to be more flexible” in structure and outreach.
The expansion of Assemblies of God churches focuses a great deal on “churches planting churches” and Cornerstone exemplifies this method.
According to Davis, Cornerstone has planted seven churches in cities in Texas and Tennessee. In April, they will be opening a new church campus in a suburb of Nashville.
The total number of Assembly of God congregations in the United States is 12,595 – the largest number of churches the fellowship has had since its inception in 1914.