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Religious Experiences, Evangelism, and Institutional Growth within the Assemblies of God

Margaret M. Poloma and Brian F. Pendleton
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 28, No. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 415-431
DOI: 10.2307/1386574
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386574
Page Count: 17
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Religious Experiences, Evangelism, and Institutional Growth within the Assemblies of God
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Abstract

The role that religious experiences may play in the origin and growth of a religious movement has been largely ignored by social scientists. This study used a survey of 1,275 Assemblies of God adherents to explore the significance of Pentecostal religious experiences for the vitality of the denomination. The Assemblies of God, at present the twelfth largest Protestant denomination in the United States, has grown steadily during the twentieth century to its present record of 2.2 million adherents in the United States and more than 14 million abroad. Using survey data collected from 16 different congregations in six states, we tested the importance of Pentecostal experiences such as glossolalia, prophecy, being slain in the Spirit, and divine healing in accounting for the personal evangelistic efforts of members. We maintain that ecstatic religious experience is an important factor in evangelistic activities that undoubtedly promote church growth.

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