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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
A Prophetic Look at the Future of the Assemblies of God
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The first issue of Charisma was published in August 1975 (l) and the current issue of Charisma.
This week the Assemblies of God is celebrating its 100th anniversary in Springfield, Missouri. Today Charisma marks 39 years since the first issue came off the press.

On Wednesday, I'm flying to Springfield to participate in the Assemblies of God Centennial. It takes on special significance to me since both Charisma and I have our roots in this denomination that has spawned many ministries worldwide.

The August issue of Charisma had several articles about the Assemblies of God. In it I tell how Charisma was started at Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida, when I was a 24-year-old newspaper reporter. I went to the church's leaders with an idea to start the magazine, and they hired me to edit Charisma. For the first six years we were a department in what was then one of the fastest-growing churches in America. Charisma achieved a measure of success at that point, especially after well-known author Jamie Buckingham became a columnist. And by 1981 we had grown enough to spin off on our own. The church sold the magazine to my wife and me that year in a leverage buyout that has allowed us to develop into the media company we are today.

Those early years at Calvary were formative for me. I am influenced even today by things I learned then. The church had a culture to try new things and to grow, which is what we continue to do. Today our corporate culture and structure is more like a large Assemblies of God church than a typical publishing house.

Beyond that, my very beginnings were in the Assemblies. My parents met at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri—headquarters of the denomination. I was born in the "holy city" a few years later, where my father pastored Lighthouse Assembly of God until I was six years old.

My early life revolved around my family and church. The Assemblies of God subculture was all I knew. Back then, women couldn't wear makeup and there was no TV in our home. When missionaries came through they were revered as heroes. The greatest objective in life was to be in ministry. All these were givens in my young life.

Contrast this to the next phase of my life when my father attended a liberal Presbyterian seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, because there were no Pentecostal seminaries in those days. He then pastored a "community church" in Iowa for a couple years before accepting a position at Southeastern Bible College in Lakeland, Florida. In hindsight, I can see God how prepared me for my life's work with a Pentecostal upbringing and an exposure to other denominational traditions. Because I was exposed to other traditions as a child, I have been comfortable working in ecumenical circles as an adult.

So when it came time to write this month's cover story for Charisma, I did so from the perspective of having grown up in the Assemblies of God—even though as an adult I've covered the entire Pentecostal/charismatic movement. For several decades I had closer ties to other denominations than to the AG, possibly because the Assemblies' leadership didn't know what to do with a young journalist who they had no idea what he would write about next.

Once, a general presbyter who was a family friend asked me ...

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