George O. Wood, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (USA), does not believe the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and the Episcopal Church are dying congregations because their worship sets clash with Millennial preferences. Instead, he maintains young Christians are departing church groups that have “abandoned belief in the authority of Scripture.”
The Assemblies of God leader offered his comments during a press conference at the Empowered21 Global Congress, a spirit-filled gathering of nearly 4,000 Pentecostals from over 70 nations, as Christian Post reports.
“The young people that are moving away from traditional religious structures in the U.S. typically belong to churches which have abandoned a belief in the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness and centrality, and exclusiveness of Jesus Christ,” says Wood. “They have no belief to hang on to since that has all been gutted by those who have chosen, under the guise of religion, to reject the very claims of the founder of the religion.”
Wood’s remarks nod towards the latest Pew survey showing US Christian groups in steady decline, with the only exception being Evangelicals. In addition, news confirming the ongoing decline among liberal mainline denominations comes from of the PCUSA’s Office of the General Assembly. The PCUSA’s recent membership report reveals a loss of 92,433 members. The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Jeffrey Walton notes this is a significant 5.54 percent loss in membership since 2014.
In contrast, several denominations maintaining traditional Christian teaching continue to grow. The Assemblies of God is one such example. “All I can do is tell you our statistics in the USA,” says Wood.
“We [AG USA] have 3.1 million young people in the USA and 34 percent of [adherents] are under the age of 25.” He continues, “The young people that are moving away from traditional religious structures in the U.S. typically belong to churches which have abandoned a belief in the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness and centrality, and exclusiveness of Jesus Christ.”
Last year, Assemblies of God USA reported a growth of 1,428 congregations over four years. Globally, the Assemblies of God has actually grown by 15,176 total churches. Among the new members are Millennials and minorities.
Update: During an email exchange, a representative from the U.S. General Council of the Assemblies of God offered the IRD specific data:
Since 2007, the Assemblies of God in the U.S. has grown by 264,592 adherents (8.4% growth), 487 churches (3.8% growth), and 3,013 ministers (8.2% growth). Since 2001, 21% of our growth has been in the 18-34 year-old demographic. Now, 54% of our adherents are under the age of 35. We have also grown in diversity—now, just over 40% of our adherents are ethnic minority.
The Pew study focuses solely on the U.S., but we have also seen steady growth on a global level. Since 2007, we have grown by 7,464,882 adherents (11% growth) throughout the world, adding 54,057 churches (14.8% growth).