By Matt Hufman, AGTS Student and Pulitzer Prize-winning Reporter
Assemblies of God General Superintendent Dr. George O. Wood said a seminary education is invaluable for ministry in a pluralistic society.
“Living in today’s culture one must do two things well: exegete the Scripture and exegete the culture,” Wood said during a discussion with students and professors at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University on Oct. 28, 2015. “There is so much shallow preaching across the body of Christ today that it does not have the ability to dig in exegetically and hermeneutically and let the Word of God speak to a contemporary audience.”
As a result, he said there is “a lot of fluff” in modern preaching and encouraged seminarians to dig deep, not just to develop skills but also to be prepared for the future.
“I see what you’re doing as laying the foundations that are strong enough to bear the weight of lifetime in ministry,” Wood said. “I personally believe that many of the issues that we’re experiencing in our churches come from pastors, who by the time they’re in their mid-40s, run out of gas. And some of them did not lay the kind of foundation that will carry them forward.”
Wood, the general superintendent for the past eight years, called the seminary’s role “critical” to the work of the Assemblies of God. He has been an ardent supporter of higher education in the fellowship, dating back to his own experience in college. He graduated in 1962 from what was then Evangel College, which at the time was unaccredited. He then went to Fuller Theological Seminary in California to pursue his doctoral degree.
He noted that students at Fuller, which he said was in the “heyday of Evangelicalism,” came from some of the nation’s top colleges and universities.
“I discovered that the education I got from this small college was on par with those whom I was competing with,” Wood said. “It really gave me a sense of gratefulness and appreciation for the quality of AG higher education.”
Wood stressed to students the importance of the pulpit ministry for the future of the Assemblies of God.
“I’m a great believer in expository preaching,” said Wood, who served as a senior pastor for 17 years in Southern California. “I did that for 17 years and saw a church grow from less than 100 to over 2,000.
“I think you have to look at the pulpit as kind of the lead role for the discipleship-making of the church. If the pulpit is setting that tone, then everybody pretty much picks up on that tone.”
He encouraged students to work within their gifts and callings to build the Kingdom of God.
“Be what God’s called you to be,” he said. “You want to grow the Kingdom of God, that means you keep growing and you build on your strengths and God will put people around you who have their strengths because ministry, in the last analysis, is not a solo venture, it’s a team effort.”
Wood spoke at the inaugural Praxis Session at AGTS, a student-led conversation with church leaders. He answered questions, talked with students and faculty and participated in a worship service, praying over several students. The students ended the night by gathering around the general superintendent and praying for him.