The Assemblies of God in Nor Cal and Nev

After musing about collegians in the AG, I got curious about our district’s demographics and so I emailed Rich Hopping (our secretrary/treasurer) and asked him how many people are in our district and how many we’re reaching.

He said:

It is our estimation there are 16 million people who live in the geographical boundaries of the NCN District. There are 130 thousand people who call an Assemblies of God church their church home. On any Sunday morning there are 80 to 90 thousand folks in attendance.

For the record, our geographical boundaries are the entire state of Nevada and California north of Fresno (but not including Fresno).

That translates to roughly 0.8% of our district. By comparison, we’re reaching less than 0.5% of the collegians in our district. So college ministry lags behind in the Assemblies (although not nearly as badly as I feared).

By the way, I find Assemblies of God triumphalism pretty funny given that we’re reaching less than 1% of our audience (in our district, at least). Worldwide we rock, but in America things are a different story. update: in 2003 America had a population of 290,809,777 and the Assemblies of God reported a constituency of 2,729,562, which works out to 0.9%. So our district is just a tad below the average in terms of constituency as a percentage of the population. My curiousity piqued, I checked our worldwide constituency as a percentage of global population–50,000,000 versus 6,000,000,000 also comes out to 0.8%. We’re nothing if not consistent…

Some other details that interested me in my research:

  • Our district had more involved collegians than any other: 2,147 (5.1% of the AG total). At least, we had more as a raw number. We probably trail several other districts when you evaluate involved collegians as a percentage of the population (the Northwest District, for example, has 2,040 students involved but many fewer collegians and colleges in their district than we do, so they’re doing better than us).
  • Our pastors estimate that about 41% of the collegians in our churches are involved in campus ministry. 24% in Chi Alpha and 18% in other ministries (like InterVarsity).

Anyway, all that was of tremendous interest to me. I hope it is of at least moderate interest to some of you. 🙂

On an unrelated note–is there anyone else blogging about the Assemblies of God? It is the world’s fourth largest Christian body (with an interesting mix of adherents), but I haven’t stumbled across anyone else commenting on us from the inside. I’ve hit a few other AGers online (such as John Abela, Tim Bednar, and Randy Jumper), but I haven’t really found any dialog about the movement.

Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places. Or maybe we’re all so scared of our leadership that AG bloggers keep as quiet as we can.

Or maybe we’re simply lazy…

Superfun Party

Yesterday was cool. We had our on‐campus summer Bible study and then we decided to have a party to welcome Andrew back to America after his journey abroad.

We figured few things are more American than BBQ, so we had a BBQ party (after which most folk left) and then the guys who remained played XBox with me until midnight.

I love my job.

Incidentally, one of the XBox games that we played is called Blood Wake, a birthday gift from my younger brother.

I mention that because the plot of the game is a younger brother trying to slay his evil older brother.

Thanks, Greg. 🙂

Simulation Argument

Many of you have seen this before, but Hector just forwarded me a link to Are You Living In A Computer Simulation? is a site that argues that at least one of the following is true:

(1) The chances that a species at our current level of development can avoid going extinct before becoming technologically mature is negligibly small

(2) Almost no technologically mature civilisations are interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours

(3) You are almost certainly an artifical entity in a computer simulation.

The author leaves off option 4 (or rather, dismisses it in his setup).

(4) It is not possible to run a computer simulation of a mind like ours.

Anyway, it struck me as a Christian that my response is that numbers 1 and 2 (and possibly number 4) are true. The world will end via divine intervention before our civilization is capable of such a feat (and once in heaven we will presumably have no interest in running such simulations even if they prove technologically feasible).

Funny how Christianity affects your reponses to everything–even bizarre academic papers. 🙂

Reaching Leaders

I was blown away by this article from The Origins Project newsletter (Emerging Leaders part 1). I believe it was written by Alex McManus, but I’m not altogether certain of that.

Alexander Hamilton was 19 years old when George Washington appointed him as an aid. Impressive enough, except when compared to the fact that at 14, Hamilton set the rules for the sea‐faring captains who traded with his employers on St. Croix Island.

In 1381, Richard II walked onto a field and faced off against Wat Tyler and his mob. Later that same day, after fourteen year old Richard 11 had Wat Tyler beheaded, the young king addressed the mob of peasants with enough sensibility to calm and end Wat Tyler’s Peasant Rebellion.

Few of us are aware of the way history and culture -not to mention our personal age — influence our feelings about youthfulness and leadership. In order to create an ethos conducive to including emerging leaders, we’ll need to ask ourselves the question, “At what age does someone have capacity to lead?”

Recently I spoke on a University campus and was startled at the youthfulness of the student body. This happens to me every year. In truth, the students are the same age undergraduates have always been. I’m just one year older. Every year, as our church leaders age, the young look younger. The corresponding danger is that we may overlook many of our ablest leaders.

History is sprinkled with tales of the exploits, achievements and leadership of young adults, even teenagers. Columbus and all the explorers of the new world relied on hard working teens to man their crews. Think about this: Middle school age children setting off on adventures that many adults would lack the courage to undertake. In times past, teenagers could lead armies in battle and young pages could be made knights as early as age 12.

Contrast this to the head deacon who said of his new “young” pastor, “We’re letting him stretch his wings a little.” Many emerging leaders won’t stretch their wings within a cage of past accomplishments and existing institutions. Emerging leadership will go where it can fly. One question we must ask ourselves is, do we really want young leaders? Or are we only looking for someone to serve in and manage a program we’ve created.

A tip of the hat to Jordan Cooper for finding this.

I keep describing the students at Stanford as “future leaders.” I ought to know better, but I sometimes nail them into a box that I ought to be ripping apart on their behalf.

I will say one thing though–while some students are ready to lead something major from the moment they set foot on campus, others aren’t ready even years after graduation (this isn’t just at Stanford, this is everywhere I’ve been). I guess a huge part of my job ought to be figuring out which tendency a given student has…

And The Moral of the Story Is

THE eminent Russian physicist Andrei Linde once found himself on a long flight seated beside a businessman nose‐deep in A Brief History of Time.

Without having been introduced and before the usual small talk, they struck up a conversation about it.

What do you think of it? Linde asked.

Fascinating, said the businessman. I cant put it down.

Oh, thats interesting, the scientist replied. I found it quite heavy going in places and didnt fully understand some parts.

At which point the businessman closed the book on his lap, leaned across with a compassionate smile, and said, Let me explain.…

Stories like this keep me from saying everything I think…

source (the above excerpt is actually a conflation of two sources, the first was from Sunday On Scotland, but I can’t find a link that works. Anyway, their opening sentence was much better than the second source I found so I kept it)

Stanford Goes Open‐Source With Sakai

I thought this was kind of cool: Stanford is one of the four key universities sponsoring a new open source course management system (the other three are MIT, University of Michigan, and Indiana University). The new project is called Sakai and Stanford’s version will go live on campus in 2005.