The way the Assemblies of God works, our next General Superintendent will almost certainly be or have been the pastor of a megachurch (I add “have been” because district officials come primarily from these ranks).
In fact, some are clamoring for changing our leadership model to require that our General Superindendent be required to serve as pastor while serving as our national leader. There’s merit to the idea, but I’ve always had a notion in the back of my head that I’ve wanted to see tried instead: elect a missionary as General Superintendent.
The Assemblies of God is exploding worldwide, partly due to the leadership of our missionaries. Turning to these proven and capable leaders seems like common sense to me, especially since we are increasingly realizing that America is a mission field just like any other. We need someone who is able to separate the way they want to do things from the way things need to be done — the very essence of an effective missionary.
Why not someone who has led a nation to revival? None of our stateside leaders has that kind of resume, but several of our missionaries have relevant experience.
Why not someone who has proven that they can function with leaders they did not select themselves? This, after all, is a key aspect of the General Superintendent position to which megachurch pastors are unaccustomed.
Why not someone who is accustomed to training and coaching leaders on the ground instead of trying to run the whole show themselves?
The only other candidate I think is as well-suited for the job is a district superintendent who has led his district to health and growth. I expect that Leslie Welk (Northwest) and Don Gifford (Indiana) will both receive nominations on this basis. Jim Braddy (Nor Cal / Nev) might also — but I’m a member of his district and so I don’t have a good sense of how he’s perceived outside our narrow little world.
However, I’m betting that Alton Garrison (former Sup of Arkansas) is ultimately going to get the nod. He’s led a megachurch, led a district, and is providing leadership on the national level as the director of AG US Missions.
So there’s a good chance that we’ll get someone from AGUSM into the top spot — but not because of his connection with missions.
As to the other spots I have no idea. In addition to the nominees I mentioned above, I’m pretty sure John Lindell will get nominated. He may even let his name stand (although I suspect this depends on whether or not he can continue to pastor at James River). Dary Northrop will probably be nominated. Dan Betzer will be nominated. Bret Allen might get nominated but he will decline. I would not be surprised at all if John Palmer gets nominated (especially for the AGUSM leadership role if Alton is elected Gen Sup), but I have no idea if he will accept.
Beyond that, I really don’t know. There are a lot of potential candidates out there, and our desire to avoid the appearance of politics means that we never know for sure who will be nominated and who will allow their names to stand.
Speaking of avoiding the appearance of politics — the only way to really avoid politics is to select our leaders randomly. Any solution involving voting is extremely political and the only question is whether or not those politics will be public. In our movement we’ve decided that hidden politics are preferable to transparent ones, and more and more of us are unhappy with the result.
However it shakes out, the Assemblies is in for a wild ride at General Council this year. Too bad I’m going to miss it…