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in North America will not win one person
to Christ in their entire lifetime.” Bob
Gilliam discovered that the typical evangel-
ical church wins only 1.7 people to Christ
per 100 members each year. Bruce McNicol
reminds us: “Those churches from three to
America
fifteen years old win five people per year
for every one hundred members. When a
by
church reaches over fifteen years of age,
Orville
the figure drops to three people per year for
Hagan
every one hundred people. The apostle
ABLAZE
Paul stood at Mars Hill in Athens and con-
textualized the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts
17:22). He employed their worldviews,
EVERAL YEARS AGO, I stood and watched 23,000 teenagers worshiping God
challenged their assumptions, and used
their culture to incarnate Christ.”
A new wine must arrive. Jesus said it
S
under a banner that read, “Still Hungry for God.” Following the message, the
speaker asked, “How many of you have a definite call of God upon your life?” I
watched with amazement as over 8,000 Church of God young people wit-
Himself. You can’t place new wine in an
nessed that God indeed had called them into ministry. Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke
old wineskin (Matthew 9:16-17). As Pente-
to my heart, “But how do young people get into ministry within the Church of God?”
costals we value the operation of the gifts
Following that experience, I came across a book titled The American Church in Cri-
of the Spirit. We are a distinctive people.
sis. I read some disturbing, if not alarming, facts in this book. Do you know that only
Now is not the time to lose those distinc- 17.5 percent of the population in America attends church of any kind on Sunday?
tives. As intellectual Charismatics, we must The author then projected that by 2020 the per-
realize that only doctrinally conservative centage will fall to 14 percent. He made another
churches are growing. Evangelicalism is
staggering statement: “Between 2005-2020, all of
growing at 200 percent per year. And
the churches in America of every kind will orga-
according to Dr. Dave Olson, only Pente-
nize 60,000 new churches. That sounds good.
costal churches are growing faster than the
The only problem is that during that same time
population at 300 percent per year. We
span, we will close 55,000 churches, which would
need a clarion call to our Timothys and
leave us a total net of 5,000 churches.” He went
Priscillas to build new, modern Spirit-filled
on to say that just to keep up with the population
churches—a new generation that under-
growth between 2005-2020, we would need
stands how to exegete culture, incarnate
48,000 additional new church plants. To date, the
the Gospel through creativity, and commu-
United States is the third-largest unchurched
nicate a timeless message in a fresh and rel-
evant way.
nation in the world.
If your son or daughter moved away
America Ablaze is a focus on the major cities of
from home, would you want a relevant
the United States. America Ablaze is a strategic
Church of God available for them, one that
plan for planting life-giving churches and also an American missionary thrust that will
they would enjoy, understand, and partici-
raise up young people who are called to the ministry. The greatest resource we have
pate in? Well that is exactly what is at stake
are our students. Our dream is to put together a church-planting team with a group
within our decision to become a church-
of young people who will give two years of their lives to a given area—students with
planting movement once again. The salva-
musical skills, children’s church skills, and youth ministry skills who will go into a major
tion of our children and grandchildren
city and launch a church. I believe that it is time for the Church of God to offer a life-
may be awaiting your answer. changing, compelling, and challenging ministry to our young people.
Michael B. Knight is national
Orville Hagan, veteran church leader and former Executive Committee
church-planting coordinator for
member, now serves as coordinator for the America Ablaze initiative.
the Church of God.
EVANGEL • APR 2009 9
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