As Southern Baptist, Mainline Churches Lag, Assemblies of God Booms

Last month, Southern Baptists reported its seventh straight year of declining numbers. Yet, even as the largest American Protestant denomination, along with many other Mainline denominations, continue to lose members, the charismatic Assembles of God has experienced its 24th year of attendance growth in the United States.

Participants gathered at the Assemblies of God (U.S.) 54th General Council in 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Participants gathered at the Assemblies of God (U.S.) 54th General Council in 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. | (Photo: Assemblies of God)

The Pentecostal denomination, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, reported an uptick of just over 30,000 in attendance from 2012 to 2013, bringing their total number of adherents to 3.1 million, up from 3.09 million.

According to reports from the AG National Leadership & Resource Center, in 2013 in the United States, 137,373 "water baptisms" and 83,731 "Holy Spirit baptisms" were recorded. These numbers were up from 131,713 and 81,345 respectively. The 2013 figure surpassed the previously highest number of "water baptisms," which was recorded as 131,935. "Holy Spirit Baptisms," on the other hand, were within several thousand of the past five years and roughly 2,000 more than 2012 figures. (The AG defines "Holy Spirit Baptisms" as when an individual speaks in tongues.)

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Globally, the AG boasts 67.5 million adherents, which it defines as anyone "who considers AG church to be their church home."

Domestically, the denomination credits its growth to the United States' growing Latino population, which they say make up 20 percent of their American population.

The SBC reported in May that the United States' largest protestant denomination numbers stood at 15.7 million at the end of last year, down from nearly 15.9 million in 2012.

In a statement, George O. Wood, the general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, praised God for the growth of his denomination.

"I am grateful to the Lord that the Assemblies of God continues to experience growth both nationally and worldwide," he said. "In the U.S.A., we have now enjoyed 24 straight years of growth. The net growth of the Assemblies of God worldwide would fill over 11 stadiums, each seating 100,000. Truly, the Holy Spirit is at work in our day."

Wood added that the denomination's continued success, though, should not allow the AG to become complacent in its evangelistic efforts.

"At the same time, we humbly recognize that there are multiplied millions that have never had an adequate presentation of the gospel or a local church in their community. Thus, in this our 100th year, we must redouble our efforts to bear witness, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to reach all the world with the gospel," he added.

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