In late 2008, the Assemblies of God Executive Leadership Team, including Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison, executive director of Discipleship/Church Ministries Division, commissioned a survey on discipleship that was distributed to AG pastors. Lifeway Research, directed by Dr. Ed Stetzer, conducted the survey and compiled the responses into a report that sheds light on the current state of discipleship in AG churches. You will find the results of that report on this page.
As part of the threefold mission of the Assemblies of God, discipleship is a top priority of the Fellowship.
But how is discipleship being fulfilled in local churches? The Lifeway survey was designed to help answer that question and to determine how the national office can better resource churches in their discipleship efforts.
Surveys were sent to all of the more than 12,000 Assemblies of God churches, with a specific request for the respondent to be a credential holding minister. A total of 2,614 pastors responded, representing more than 20 percent of all AG churches in the U.S.
LifeWay’s survey report included findings that Wes Bartel, Discipleship Ministries Agency director, deemed both “good and bad news.”
Among the positive findings, Lifeway reports that 56 percent of AG churches have a five-year average worship attendance growth of 10 percent or more. The survey responses also indicated what the Discipleship Ministries Agency considers an “amazing consistency” in church planting since 1930.
Unfortunately, the pastors’ responses reveal there is plenty of room for growth in the area of discipleship.
Less than 35 percent of responding pastors reported an active involvement of 60 percent or more of their people in Christian Education or small group discipleship ministries. The Discipleship Ministries Agency says this represents bad news for the cause of effective discipleship, as Christian Education and small groups are two central components to spiritual formation.
According to the survey report, only 45 percent of AG churches regularly evaluate the progress and spiritual growth of their members. Through the survey results, Bartel hopes “that our pastors will see the need for discipleship, assess the need and address the need.”
“Given the clarity of the Great Commission, it was important for us to once again stress the importance of the discipleship mandate,” Bartel says. “It’s very easy for pastors and leaders to be caught up in the issues that we face lose sight of the core things we are called to pursue”
In the coming months, the Church Ministries Division, along with Gospel Publishing House, will release several new resources that will better equip churches to disciple believers of all ages. These will include: 360-degree discipleship, a handbook for maturing believers; a Spiritual Health Planner, to develop of a plan of personal discipleship growth; Small group resources for children and adults to increase understanding of the cardinal doctrines and fundamentals.
For further detail regarding the survey, please watch the videos below. Select the report you wish to view from the list on the right of the viewer. To discuss these results, please visit the Discipleship Forum. If you just want the raw data without commentary, download and view the entire PowerPoint presentation.