January 4, 2012
Assemblies of God Starts a Church a Day
The number marks the highest ever recorded for the denomination.
The Assemblies of God, one of the nation's largest Pentecostal denominations, opened more than a church a day last year.
In all, 368 new churches opened in 2011, the denomination said. That total marks the second highest number of church starts since it began keeping reliable statistics in 1965.
Factoring in church closures, there are now 12,595 Assemblies of God congregations in the country, the highest ever recorded.
"One of our strategic values is to vigorously plant new churches," said Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood, who was quoted by his denomination's news service. "Our goal was to plant a church a day in 2011. It was exciting to see how God helped us meet -- and then exceed -- that goal."
He hopes more than 400 U.S. churches will be started in 2012, and ultimately, at least 500 annually.
Denominational officials reported that 230 churches closed in 2011. Wood said there were only two years in the last decade when the denomination saw fewer than 230 church closures.
"Overall, we had a net gain of 138 churches," Wood said. "That stands as our 11th highest net gain of churches."
The denomination, which includes 3 million U.S. members, has a "Church Multiplication Network" that supports church planters with training and funding.