Former Assemblies of God Minister?

Posted: March 19, 2010 by Andrew McIntyre in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Thank you for the welcome to Endued.  I look forward to the dialogue and the fellowship!

To begin, I though it might be good to take a moment to explain why I am no longer an Assemblies of God minister.  The resignation of my ordination in the A/G came at the end of a long spiritual journey (some people take longer than others!).  My struggle with the “distinctive” doctrine of the A/G started in a theology course in college, and though I often tried to move it to the back burner, God would always bring it back to the forefront via friends, acquaintances, books, magazines and lots of serendipity (e.g. finding files left by former pastors).  I finally came to the place where I could no longer support the “distinctive” doctrine from my understanding of Scripture.  While I had hoped to remain in the A/G, hoping to find that a passion for Scriptural truth and theological integrity would foster a lively dialogue of a doctrine that I felt should be held with humility and openness, especially in light of Church history and the theology of the larger Body of Christ, that was not to be.  Through the preaching of Thomas Trask, it was made abundantly clear that such dialogue would not be tolerated.  Because I respected the A/G’s right to make such a decision, and because I felt that my own spiritual journey was just that – my own, I resigned my ordination.  I should quickly add two things:  1) I have no axe to grind with the A/G, and 2) I remain overwhelmed and overjoyed by God’s gracious leading in my life.

As an aside, I also want to share that the one book that was instrumental in my spiritual journey was James D. G. Dunn’s Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  I will always be grateful to the A/G professor who patiently listened to my spiritual struggle and recommended I read this book!  While I realize that not everyone will agree with all of Dunn’s exegetical conclusions, I do think that this is one book that everyone interested in this area of theology should read.  And, so people know a little about my presuppositions, I find that I am in total agreement with Dunn’s objectives for his book:

I hope to show that for the writers of the NT the baptism in or gift of the Spirit was part of the event (or process) of becoming a Christian, together with the effective proclamation of the Gospel, belief in (eis) Jesus as Lord, and water-baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus; that it was the chief element in conversion-initiation so that only those who had thus received the Spirit could be called Christians; that the reception of the Spirit was a very definite and often dramatic experience, the decisive and climactic experience in conversion-initiation, to which the Christian was usually recalled when reminded of the beginning of his Christian faith and experience.  We shall see that while the Pentecostal’s belief in the dynamic and experiential nature of Spirit-baptism is well founded, his separation of it from conversion-initiation is wholly unjustified; and that, conversely, while water-baptism is an important element in the complex of conversion-initiation, it is neither to be equated or confused with Spirit-baptism nor to be given the most prominent part in that complex event.  The high point in conversion-initiation is the gift of the Spirit, and the beginning of the Christian life is to be reckoned from the experience of Spirit-baptism.  (James D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, p. 4)

Again, thanks for welcoming me to Endued.  May my participation bring glory to Christ and benefit to his body.

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Comments
  1. Andy, it is a difficult thing to walk away when you have so much invested within such a group. Most pastors who change their theology just go mum and keep up with the party line. After all, I just posted an article about pastors who confide that they don’t believe the Bible, but preach it as if they do. Some admitted that they have no other source of income. Some pastors likened it to acting.

    It is tough to resign under such circumstances, but it is the honorable things to do. I, too, have felt like there was no home for me, but God is good and I am grateful for the Church I serve. I pray that God will lead you according to His eternally good purposes.

  2. Tony B. Ashworth says:

    I too am a former Assemblies of God minister but am lost to where do you go from here. Being without a fellowship and a place of ministry. How do you transition when you’ve invested so much after nearly 20 years. and your fifty and you have to support your family. Myself like to author struggled at times but found it necessary and am paying dearly for such a decision. Can someone address the challenges of such ministers?

    Thanks,

    Tony B. Ashworth

    • Wow Tony, I do feel for your situation. Perhaps Andy will be able to offer better feedback. I am fortunate to have worked out some theological concerns before going “all in” with the AoG. Most folks were advising me to just chill out, not get caught up over these theological concerns, that I was thinking too much, etc. Good thing I didn’t heed such advice. For those whose theology evolves in the course of ministry, it can be a difficult thing to step down, etc. I know that the Lord has a place for you. You will find many “non-denominational” churches looking for pastors on http://www.churchstaffing.com/

      • Tony B. Ashworth says:

        Thanks Rick,

        Like I stated to Andrew by the Grace of God after 16mths of unemployment He has helped us keep the lights on and we haven’t missed a house payment. Thanks for the encouraging words..

        Blessings From Missouri,
        Tony B. Ashworth

    • Tony,

      This is the fourth time that I have attempted to write a reply to your message. I struggle because I know that each person’s path is unique and personal, and because i know that merely empathizing with you doesn’t help much. And yet, because I truly feel what you are saying, I offer the following with humility and trepidation.

      First, I feel that my theological struggle was ordained of God. There were no accidents on this path, just a persistence on the Lord’s part to bring me to where I am today. Now I know that everyone will not agree with this, and I have had my painful conversations with former friends/pastors who feel that I have turned my back on my spiritual heritage. But I remain convinced that God’s hand was in this and that he isn’t finished with me yet. While I don’t know what the future holds, I remain confident in His love and His plans for me.

      Second, my wife and I are truly in this thing together. She remains my closest friend and partner in ministry. Through it all, we are supporting each other. And I am glad to say that our three grown daughters support us as well. They, more than anyone else, know how much of our lives were poured into the A/G.

      Third, we are trying to “bloom where we are currently planted.” While we may no longer be involved in pastoral ministry (for now, or forever, ???), we are surrounded by opportunities to minister to people who have never REALLY heard the Gospel. These people know the cultural biases against Christianity, but they don’t really know Christianity. For example, last year we bought Christmas gifts for the children of a lady my wife works with because her husband had lost his job; she had shared with my wife that the children weren’t going to get any gifts – just a comment in passing. And what joy – my wife, I, our middle daughter, and our son-in-law were like little kids going through Toys-R-Us buying gifts for those two children, and I wish I had a picture of that Mom’s face when we showed up at her house with the presents. There are people with needs all around us.

      Fourth, we refuse to give up. Since leaving the ministry I have worked for a Christian high school, Palm, Symantec, and Ugobe. I have tried to leverage the numerous skills required of a pastor at every turn. And I currently work for HP as an outside contractor writing documentation for them. Who knows how long this job will last – the tech world is unbelievably unstable, and our present economy doesn’t help. I do feel an uneasiness in my soul that tells me that I am not where I am supposed to be yet; so, we persevere until …

      Tony, if any of this sounds trite, I apologize in advance. I was not trying to be. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for you, but I am confident that He hasn’t left you. You and your wife will together see God’s action on your behalf.

      If God be for us …
      Andrew

      • Tony B. Ashworth says:

        Thanks Andrew and sorry this finally got to me but many things have stayed the same but our faith is stronger in Him and not an organization any longer. We are just so thankful after nearly 16mths of unemployment that God has helped us pay our house payment and kept the lights on.

        Blessings,

        Tony and Marla Ashworth
        Missouri

      • Great to hear that you are moving forward in the Lord. May he continue to lead and provide.

        God bless,
        Andy McIntyre

  3. Rosalind Spratt says:

    What do you know of the AEGA? They offer to grant Ministerial Credentials to qualified applicants. The A/G is too stringent on divorced and remarried individuals. The application process is difficult and can be humiliating. Why would someone who has a calling on their life need to be under such scrutiny by a Fellowship?

    • Andrew McIntyre says:

      Greetings Rosalind,

      I am not familiar with AEGA and can’t really comment on the organization. I did peruse their website and read about the credentials they offer. They certainly warrant further exploration by those seeking ministerial credentials. However, their stance on Spirit baptism would be a theological obstacle for me (cf. blog above).

      I do agree with your opinion that the A/G is too stringent on the issue of divorce/remarriage. I was part of a symposium on this topic when I was an A/G minister and was disappointed by how cliches, emotions, tradition and an assumed understanding of Biblical texts trumped careful exegesis, thoughtful hermeneutics and grace.

      I do recommend participation in a Fellowship as a covering for ministry. The benefits certainly outweigh the deficits. The fellowship, accountability, support and opportunities all help facilitate effective ministry. The important and difficult part is finding a fellowship that has true intellectual, spiritual and exegetical integrity.

      May the Lord faithfully direct your search for a fellowship that will enable your calling to grow and flourish.

      Andrew

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