Updated: Sep 24, 2019
The Quick Check
This church didn't give me any nonsense. The sleazy salesman vibe that I get from other pastors doesn't exist here. My questionnaire was answered, I was happy with most of the answers, and the sermon was better than the majority of the others I've sat through painfully over the past few weeks.
While some of their doctrines aren't my cup of tea, I'm not as dogmatic on those issues as other Christians might be, and I would still recommend this church to anyone seeking a Bible-focused, Christ-centered church.
While I wasn't given all the information I was hoping for, this church hides nothing from its own members. Anyone who gives to the church is given a full financial report whenever they want it to show how the money is being spent, and the pastor's salary is set by their deacons. It isn't as transparent with the public as others might be, but at least they aren't pressuring their congregation to pay tithes and then hiding their financial information from those same people.
The Grace Scale
The Political Scale
The Full Check
I decided to Check out Christian Life Assembly of God solely because one of our readers actually sent in a request to check this church.
In fact, Grace Gospel, Christian Life Assembly of God and Utah Valley are all requests from the readers, so I hope to do their requests justice by giving top notch Checks for these churches.
I’ve never heard of Christian Life Assembly of God, and it’s our first Check of a church that doesn’t claim to be Evangelical or non-denominational, so let’s see how it goes, eh?
About The Church
The website for this church is a lot less impressive looking than the others I’ve been visiting lately. Believe it or not, that makes me happy. I’m tired of people trying to impress me. And quite frankly, this church doesn’t seem interested at all in impressing people.
I like that.
When you go to their About Us page on their website, this is what it says:
“Welcome to Christian Life Assembly of God Church. We believe that we have been given the awesome opportunity to meet people where they are in their journey of life and to walk together as we discover our God given purposes. We strive to minister to the whole family, with the understanding that healthy families are the building blocks for healthy homes, churches and communities. Everything we do is guided by the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ. We are affiliated with the Assemblies of God, one of the fastest growing Christian denominations in the world. For more information regarding the Assemblies of God, you can go to www.ag.org.”
Seems pretty straightforward to me, guys. It doesn’t tell us much about the church, except that they like to focus on family and that they’re affiliated with the Assemblies of God. So I went to the referenced link there and read about the Assemblies of God.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I didn’t already know much about them to begin with. Maybe some of you more denomination-savvy Christians can educate me, but there are only a few doctrines I found on this site that I could see as dividing them from non-denominational or Evangelical Christians.
The speaking of tongues and divine healing. Now, for the sake of the Check and its neutrality, I won’t be addressing the doctrinal disagreements that I have with the Assemblies of God. As I’ve laid out in our criteria, we only address three main issues.
Does the church glorify God to the best of its ability?
Does the church preach the Word and the Gospel, feeding the flock as commanded by the Bible?
Does the church preach tithing or pressure its congregation to follow other burdensome and unBiblical laws and ordinances?
So, let’s get to the Questionnaire and find out!
It took a little while, but being that this is a smaller church, I assumed they just don’t get many email inquiries and probably don’t check their email that often, so I gave them more time to respond. It took about a week, but Lee Ponder, whoever that may be within their church, responded to the questionnaire without any nonsense whatsoever.
1. What is your church's official position on tithing?
“We believe that tithing is a Biblical concept taught in scripture. In our church it is voluntary and a matter between the individual and God.”
While I’m unsure if Lee meant that it is a Biblical concept taught in the Old Testament but not the New, or not, at least he makes it clear that it is voluntary and a matter between the individual and God.
2. Does your church have a particular set of rules or requirements that members must follow or abide by in order to retain their membership status with the church?
“To be a voting member there are attendance requirements and a commitment to support the church with prayer and finances. These requirements are only for those that want to vote to elect leaders and be a part of the decision process of how monies will be spent.”
While I find this to be a little legalistic, it does make sense to have these kind of requirements for people who wish to make financial decisions for the church. I don’t know, guys...I’m on the fence so far.
3. What is your church's official position on the doctrine of salvation? Through grace, works, both?
“We believe that a person is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”
4. Are you transparent with your church's financial information? How much does your church bring in through donations and tithing, and how is that money distributed? What do your profit on average?
“We provide a complete annual financial report to every attender. Any attender can request a financial report at any time during the year. Monies are distributed by our board of deacons which are elected by the voting members. It takes a 2/3 vote of the voting members to incur indebtedness, to sell property or to make large expenditures.”
While I’m disappointed that I wasn’t given this financial report, it’s encouraging to know that at least the attenders get one. After all, I’m not the one giving to this church. I’m hoping it’s not the same kind of financial report that members at SMCC Draper are getting though, but something about this tells me it’s a lot more detailed than that, given that they allow people to vote on where money goes in the first place.
I’m going to have to take Lee’s word for it and assume this financial report is as transparent as it sounds, so...sounds good to me.
5. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?
“Assemblies of God”
6. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?
7. How is your church's doctrinal flexibility and tolerance? If a member has a disagreement with the pastor or leadership on a certain doctrine, how is it handled? Does the church change its position on doctrines fairly often, if at all?
“Our doctrine is based solely on the teachings of the Bible. If someone can point out where the church is in violation of biblical principles we would change our beliefs. Our congregation is encouraged to examine what is taught with what they read in the Bible, and to ask questions for clarity if needed.”
Sounds great to me. He didn't even mention that they must abide by the official Assembly of God doctrines regardless of what kind of Biblical arguments they are given. And although I disagree with the Assemblies of God on a few of their denominational doctrines, this answer tells me that regardless of that, if they can be shown that one of their teachings is not Biblical, they will change it. This means they take the Bible seriously, and care about what it says.
8. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?
“We believe that water baptism is a biblical concept. Each person is encouraged to follow Jesus’ example by being baptized. Water baptism is a public proclamation as to a person’s salvation, not a requirement of salvation.”
No argument here.
9. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.
“Worship (congregation singing) Prayer -Preaching/teaching from the Bible -Altar time (people can respond for salvation or ask for prayer for their needs).”
I love how Lee does little to nothing to try and impress or dazzle me with language like “We do everything we can to make sure you have a spiritual and godly experience on Sunday, and that you feel welcome at our church.”
I really hate that sleazy salesman stuff, and Lee doesn’t waste any time with that. I love it.
10. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?
“1 Paid 5 volunteers”
11. What is the pastor's educational history?
“BA in pastoral ministry AA in Christian Education”
12. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?
“From the biblical example of first to go to the person one on one; then to take two other with you; then if there is no resolution the congregation will decide what the discipline will entail according to the bible.”
This is a typical response that I hear to this question. I don’t necessarily disagree with it, but I don’t like it when churches assume the role of God in condemning Christians for their sins. I believe my sin is between me and God, and unless I have sinned against the church in particular or hurt the church, my sins aren’t my church’s business.
13. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?
“The Pastor receives a salary that is set by the board of deacons.”
While, once again, I was disappointed that I wasn’t given his salary information, it’s still positive to note that the pastor’s salary isn’t some kind of secret from everyone. The board of deacons have set it and knows what it is. As long as it’s transparent within the church that’s being asked to give money, that’s fine by me.
14. What is the size of your church and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?
“We are a church of approx.. 120 people. We own 5 acres and a 6000 sq ft building.”
In conclusion to the Questionnaire, I’m just glad it was answered. Finally! Christian Life Assembly of God is the first church since my very first Check at CAMPUS in Murray to actually answer the questions with no BS attached.
And although some of the questions weren’t exactly what I was hoping for, I’m giving them a thumbs up here, for the lack of BS and the straight answers.
The Worship Service
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any examples of this church’s worship service online anywhere, so I’ll have to hold off on making any assessment of it here until I can experience one for myself.
If you've attended a worship service at Christian Life Assembly of God, please let us know what it's like there so we can add it to our Check!
Until then, let’s move onto the sermon.
To watch the sermon I’ll be referring to today, you can go to Christian Life Assembly of God’s website here.
I’m unsure of the date of the sermon, but it’s the fourth one down from the top on the page that I’ve linked above, and I chose this particular sermon because it seemed to have less of an echo. It was difficult to hear the pastor in some of the other ones, so this one will have to do for today.
Before I get into specifics, I just want to mention that there is a giant cross on the wall behind the pastor as he stands at his podium, and I love that. I’ve seen enough church logos to choke a horse, and finally, I get to see a cross in a church again. Thank God.
Is the Sermon Topical or a Verse by Verse Study of the Bible?
It appears to be both. The pastor says at the beginning of the sermon that they’re beginning a new series today which goes through Luke 2:41-49, called Purpose.
It’s possible that the verse by verse study in Luke points to the topic of Purpose in a way that the pastor or his leadership thought would be beneficial, while the study of the selected Scripture is the main focus. I will have to watch more of the sermon to find out for sure.
Is the heart of the sermon about preaching the Gospel, studying the Word, and glorifying God? Or is it more about you, and a self help message?
While the first half of the sermon seems more focused on the Bible and the Gospel, the second half touches more on a message that applies to us personally. The personal application appears to be inspired by what the Bible is actually saying contextually, but at the same time, I don’t know why we have to make everything in the Bible about us.
He returns to the Gospel a few times, but eventually, the main focus does become how this passage applies to us. The contextual study of the Bible falls into the background, but God and the Gospel remain a constant point of focus.
How often is the Bible used? Is it used contextually or out of context to support the topical sermon?
The pastor takes the time to read Luke 2:41-49. He gives a thorough explanation of the context of these verses in order to help us better understand what’s going on with Jesus as a twelve year old boy and his parents, who have lost him after the Festival of Passover.
At first, the study of this passage in Luke is the main focus, and it is explained contextually to us, but then the topic of the sermon, Purpose, becomes more the focus. Other verses are used to support the topic at hand as well.
So I’m on the fence here right now. The pastor does give us a contextual study of the passage selected for the sermon, and while there is a topic in there, a self help message that focuses on us, he always brings it back to the Gospel and God.
To me, it seems like the sermon is 80% focused on a mixture of God and His Word, while 20% touches on us and this topical message of Purpose.
I do have a bias against topical sermons, but I’m having a hard time outright dismissing this one. While I prefer a deeper and more meaty study of the Bible, the topic is Biblical, and God and the Gospel are made very prevalent all throughout, regardless of whether the focus is on the Word, or us. So, while I don’t like topical sermons overall, this one appears to be Biblical, and it doesn’t neglect God in the least.
I can’t believe it, but I’m giving this sermon a thumbs up, too. It may be the only topical sermon I’ve ever heard that I would actually say has remained Biblical and focused on God. It’s a miracle!
The Grace Scale
The website reveals very little about how gracious or legalistic this church may be. Even the answers to the questionnaire, while they appear perfectly fine to me, won’t tell me for sure how this church operates behind closed doors.
I would have to attend, or speak to someone who’s been there for a while and can tell me more information about things like how legalistic they are with the members’ personal sin. But, since nothing I’ve seen reveals anything like that, and with only a hint of legalism on my law-dar, until I see otherwise, I’ll put them closer to the gracious side of the scale.
I only put 10% legalistic because I do detect from some of the answers from the questionnaire that this church could be dictating the personal lives of its members through disciplining them for their sin. Other than that though, I see nothing else to suggest they are legalistic.
The Political Scale
I don’t see anything political whatsoever on their website, in the sermon, or in their doctrinal statement to suggest that they are remotely political in any way. So they’re smack dab in the middle of the political scale.
Scandals, History, & Controversy
I couldn’t find anything in the way of scandals on Christian Life, but I suppose there is probably plenty of controversy within the Christian Church itself regarding certain doctrines that the Assembly of God aligns with.
Divine healing and speaking in tongues are commonly debated doctrines within Christianity, so I can see how a lot of people would avoid this church for those doctrines alone.
Oddly enough, this is the first church I’ve found who professes doctrines I couldn’t force myself to agree with, but I actually like it a lot more than the past several churches I’ve checked combined! If you’re not dogmatic on certain doctrines, I’d actually recommend Christians attend this church if they’re down in the Payson area.
While there may be a lot of things I’m missing about this church due to the lack of information on the website, the overall impression I get from them is nothing like the impression I get from others, even without their awesome websites to help me out.
The pastor, at least I think it was the pastor, answered my questions without any nonsense or deceptive language. The sermon, although it was topical, still focused on the Bible and the Gospel, and the general attitude that I got from this church was honest, real, and focused on God.
I may disagree with some of the doctrines and have more questions about a few things regarding membership, but the focus on the Word and God at this church far outweighs any doubts that I have right now.
Therefore, I have to give them a positive verdict in the end.
Have you attended Christian Life Assembly of God? Agree or disagree with our Check? Let us know what you think!