Change for the sake of change is not productive, but nevertheless change is necessary in order to ensure continued effectiveness to the mission and calling that we have been given. We are announcing that AGIF is becoming E4 Ministry Network. While we are not changing our legal name or our corporate structure, it is time to restate our purpose and communicate in a way that will be effective to a new generation. Transitions can be unsettling, but the alternative is often stagnation and decay. We have not moved hastily or without prayerful consideration and after several years, I believe that it is now time to move forward.
As we recast our vision and mission of AGIF, I would contend that we are remaining faithful to the identity and character that we have always possessed. Those of us who have been up on this journey for many years, understand this while recognizing that changes in style and language must not alter our foundational values and principles.
We may be comfortable because we are familiar with the style and language of those who have gone before us in previous generations and we may fail to see the justification for making any changes to style and language. We are aware that change is difficult, and we may even argue that if our identification was good enough for those who preceded us, it might even be arrogant to presume that we have the right to change anything.
Our responsibility to the gospel is for our time and generation. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, specifically about prophecy, but it has, I believe, wider implications when he says, “Examine all things. Firmly hold on to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (MEV). Most people are comfortable around what is familiar to them. This is proven to be true regarding styles of music, approaches to ministry and even favorite Bible translations. One of the factors in the resistance to change is the fear that we will lose what is familiar to us. While this may be true, it is necessary for us to ask ourselves if what is familiar to us is optimal for bringing the gospel to a new generation and equipping them to continue the work?
Long before I became the president of AGIF, I was conflicted about our name. It was comfortable and familiar. In one form or another, “Assemblies of God” has been a part of my identity for most of my life. In addition to AGIF, I have served and pastored in General Council affiliated churches.
I have two observations; the first is that I have lost track of the number of times that I have introduced myself as being part of the Assemblies of God International Fellowship and inevitably the first issue that I must explain is that we are not a part of “that Assemblies of God!” I am aware that some people enjoy the ambiguity and certainly there are a great number of our members who are serving in Gen. Council churches.
The second observation is that many AG churches and district offices, no longer include “Assemblies of God” in their names. In fact, many churches are going to great lengths to obscure the affiliation, in part, because denominational labels are often seen as more of a hindrance than a help. Whether this is good or bad, is open to debate, but it is certainly a trend.
Before proceeding to explain the thought process that went into selecting a new identity, let me clarify that we are not changing the legal name of our fellowship. We will still be the Assemblies of God International Fellowship and that identity and our history will remain a part of us.
We have been praying about this for the past four or five years and in fact for a couple of years now, you have probably seen the words, Encourage, Equip and Engage appear on the cover of the magazine, the website and elsewhere. The astute observer may note that that were only three E’s. In the beginning of our discussions, “Empower” was included, but for a time we felt that because we need the power of the Holy Spirit in everything including encouraging, equipping and engaging, that it might be considered redundant to add it as the fourth E. However, ultimately it was decided for the sake of clarity to include it.
Additionally, we changed the tense of each word to indicate that these are ongoing attributes of our fellowship. English is not as precise a language as Greek is, but we are already empowered, and we will continue to need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We are already encouraged, but we continue to need encouragement, and so on.
We also considered the order of these four words which are the core values of AGIF-E4 Ministry Network. “Empowered,” was selected as the first word because everything begins with, and nothing is accomplished without, the Holy Spirit and his power. The final word, “Engaged,” is our activity or mission, once we are Empowered, Equipped and Encouraged.