Pentecostalism Vs. Assemblies of God

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/15/23 •  14 min read

The origins and development of Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God have attracted scholarly attention due to their shared historical background, yet distinct beliefs, worship practices, and organizational structures. These two influential religious movements have shaped the lives of countless individuals around the world, and it is important to delve into their origins and teachings to gain a comprehensive understanding.

According to the Bible, the day of Pentecost marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early believers. Acts 2:4 states, ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.’ This event is seen as the birth of the Pentecostal movement, which emphasizes the experience of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of spiritual gifts.

Assemblies of God, on the other hand, is a specific denomination within the broader Pentecostal movement. It traces its roots back to the early 20th century, when a group of pastors and evangelists gathered in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to discuss the need for a unified organization. They sought to establish a framework that would allow for accountability, doctrinal unity, and cooperation among Pentecostal churches.

The Assemblies of God places a strong emphasis on the authority of the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.’ This belief in the infallibility and relevance of Scripture shapes their doctrines and teachings.

In terms of worship practices, both Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God place a high value on passionate and expressive worship. They believe in the power of music and singing to connect with God and invite His presence. Psalm 100:2 encourages believers to ‘Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.’ This biblical principle is deeply ingrained in the worship styles of these movements.

Leadership models also differ between Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God. While Pentecostalism as a whole does not have a centralized leadership structure, Assemblies of God has a hierarchical system with a General Superintendent at the top. This model allows for a unified approach to decision-making and governance within the denomination.

The global impact of Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God cannot be understated. These movements have spread to every corner of the world, touching the lives of millions. The story of the early believers in Acts serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 states, ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ This commission to spread the message of Christ continues to drive the mission and outreach efforts of Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God today.

In conclusion, the similarities and differences between Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God are rooted in their shared historical background and distinct beliefs. By examining their origins, doctrines, worship practices, leadership models, and global impact, we gain a deeper understanding of these influential religious movements. The stories and teachings of the Bible provide a firm foundation for exploring these aspects and shedding light on the significance of Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God in the lives of believers.

Key Takeaways

Origins and History

The origins and history of Pentecostalism and the Assemblies of God can be traced back to the early 20th century in the United States. These movements were influenced by several key figures, such as Charles Parham and William J. Seymour.

Parham, a Bible school teacher, is considered a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement. He emphasized the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, which is supported by the verse in Acts 2:4 where it says, ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.’

Seymour, an African-American preacher, played a significant role in the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, which is often seen as the birthplace of Pentecostalism. During this revival, people from various backgrounds came together to worship and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:17-18 says, ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’ This verse reminds us that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not limited to a specific group of people, but is available to all who seek it.

The Assemblies of God, on the other hand, is a specific denomination within Pentecostalism. It was officially formed in 1914 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, during a gathering of Pentecostal ministers. The Assemblies of God places a strong emphasis on the authority of the Bible, evangelism, and spiritual gifts. The importance of the Bible is highlighted in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

These influential figures and their teachings contributed to doctrinal differences between Pentecostalism and the Assemblies of God. However, it is important to remember that both movements are rooted in the belief in the power of the Holy Spirit and the importance of a personal relationship with God. As we explore these beliefs and doctrines further, let us turn to the scriptures for guidance and understanding.

Beliefs and Doctrines

Beliefs and doctrines within these religious traditions are rooted in biblical teachings. Pentecostalism and the Assemblies of God share commonalities in their beliefs and doctrines, but also have some differences. Both traditions emphasize the importance of spiritual gifts and believe in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.

In Corinthians 12:4-11, the Bible states, ‘Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.’

Both Pentecostalism and the Assemblies of God hold firmly to the belief in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 2:8-9, it is written, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ Baptism is seen as a symbol of this faith, as mentioned in Acts 2:38, ‘And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’

However, there are variations in the specific understanding and practice of these beliefs within each tradition. The Assemblies of God generally adhere to a more structured and organized approach to their beliefs and practices. They have a set of 16 fundamental truths that serve as their doctrinal statement. These truths include the belief in the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible, the deity of Jesus Christ, and the reality of heaven and hell.

On the other hand, Pentecostalism as a broader movement encompasses a wider range of interpretations and expressions. It is characterized by a strong emphasis on the personal experience of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues and other charismatic manifestations. This emphasis can be traced back to the events described in Acts 2, where the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, empowering them to speak in different languages and proclaim the gospel.

The differences in beliefs and practices between these traditions can be seen in their worship practices. The Assemblies of God typically follows a more structured and orderly worship style, with a focus on biblical teaching and preaching. Pentecostal worship, on the other hand, often includes energetic and expressive forms of worship, with an emphasis on spontaneous prayer, singing, and the manifestation of spiritual gifts.

To illustrate the importance of these beliefs and doctrines, let us look at the story of the conversion of the Apostle Paul. In Acts 9, Paul, who was once a persecutor of Christians, encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. This encounter transformed Paul’s life, and he became a devout follower of Christ. His letters to the early Christian communities, which are now part of the New Testament, provide valuable insights into the beliefs and doctrines of the early church.

Worship Practices

Variations in worship practices can be observed between the two religious traditions of Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God. The Holy Bible provides guidance on the importance of worship and the ways in which believers can express their devotion to God.

In Psalm 150:4, it states, ‘Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!’ This verse highlights the use of musical instruments and dance as a form of worship. It is evident that lively musical performances are valued in both Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God as a means to connect with the divine.

Furthermore, Acts 2:4 mentions the phenomenon of speaking in tongues, which is often observed in these worship practices. This spiritual gift is believed to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. It is a way for believers to communicate with God in a deeply personal and intimate manner.

One biblical story that exemplifies the significance of worship practices is found in 2 Samuel 6:14-15. It recounts how King David danced and leaped before the Lord with all his might when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem. This act of exuberant worship demonstrated David’s love and reverence for God.

In addition to these examples, contemporary music styles have also found a place in Pentecostal and Assemblies of God worship. While the Bible does not explicitly mention these styles, it does emphasize the importance of praising God with all instruments and voices. This openness to different musical genres allows believers to express their worship in a way that resonates with their generation.

The emphasis on vibrant and engaging worship experiences serves to enhance the spiritual connection of believers with the divine. It is through these practices that individuals can express their love, gratitude, and awe towards God. As the book of Psalms declares, ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!’ (Psalm 150:6). Worship is not just an obligation, but a heartfelt response to the goodness and greatness of God.

Leadership and Structure

Leadership and structure within these religious traditions are deeply rooted in the teachings of the Bible. In both Pentecostalism and Assemblies of God, the role of leaders is seen as crucial in guiding the worship practices and shaping the overall community.

The Bible provides guidance on leadership, with verses such as Proverbs 11:14 stating, ‘Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.’ This highlights the importance of having leaders who can provide direction and guidance to the congregation.

In Pentecostalism, the decentralized leadership model aligns with the biblical concept of each individual church having autonomy. This is reflected in 1 Peter 2:9, which states, ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ This verse emphasizes the role of every believer as a part of the priesthood, with each church having the freedom to make decisions guided by the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, Assemblies of God follows a more centralized leadership model, which can be traced back to the biblical principle of order and structure. 1 Corinthians 14:40 advises, ‘But all things should be done decently and in order.’ The hierarchical structure within Assemblies of God, including district councils, national executives, and a general superintendent, ensures accountability and oversight in accordance with biblical principles.

To illustrate the significance of leadership and structure, we can turn to the story of Moses in the Bible. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, Moses was chosen by God to lead them. Exodus 18:21 states, ‘But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.’ This story exemplifies the need for leaders who are God-fearing, trustworthy, and capable of guiding the community.

Global Impact

The global impact of pentecostalism and the Assemblies of God can be observed through the significant growth and spread of their adherents across various countries and continents. These religious traditions have exerted a cultural influence on the societies in which they have taken root. Their emphasis on personal experience of the Holy Spirit, ecstatic worship, and speaking in tongues has shaped the religious practices of many individuals and communities.

One powerful story from the Bible that exemplifies the impact of pentecostalism is the story of Pentecost in Acts 2. On that day, the disciples were gathered together when suddenly a sound like a rushing wind filled the room and tongues of fire appeared above each of their heads. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in different languages. This event marked the birth of the early Christian church and the spread of the Gospel to people of different nations and languages.

This story from the Bible serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit and the global impact of pentecostalism. It demonstrates how the Assemblies of God and other pentecostal groups have embraced the belief in the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit and have sought to share this experience with others.

Moreover, pentecostalism and the Assemblies of God have engaged in extensive missionary work, actively seeking to convert individuals to their faith and establish congregations in new locations. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This command serves as the foundation for the missionary efforts of pentecostalism.

Through these missionary efforts, pentecostalism has introduced their beliefs and practices to diverse cultural contexts, contributing to the religious landscape and fostering dialogue between different religious traditions. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:14-15, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’"

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.