A solemn figure stands in an empty church, their silhouette illuminated by a beam of light streaming through a shattered stained glass window, symbolizing their departure from the Assemblies of God.

Why I Left The Assemblies Of God

If you were brought up in the Assemblies of God (AG) church but no longer attend, you probably have your reasons. Leaving a church you grew up in is never easy, especially when family and friends remain there.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: I left the AG church because over time I developed theological and social differences that made me feel unwelcome and unaccepted there.

In this approximately 3000 word article, I will share my personal story and reasons for leaving in detail. I’ll cover my background in the AG church, the theological and social issues that led me to leave, the emotional impact and relational consequences, and how I moved forward.

My Background and Upbringing in the Assemblies of God

A Third Generation AG Family

I grew up in a family that had been part of the Assemblies of God (AG) church for three generations. My grandparents were founding members of our small, rural AG church, and my parents continued the tradition of faithful involvement.

As far back as I can remember, our family attended Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening services every week. We were at church more than we were at home!

The AG faith permeated our family life. We prayed before every meal, read the Bible together, and conversations often centered around sermons, church activities, and our relationships with God. Both my mom and dad held various volunteer leadership positions in our church over the years.

They didn’t just attend faithfully, they were wholeheartedly devoted to serving however needed.

Involvement and Leadership as a Youth

As the pastor’s kid, I was expected to follow their example. At a young age I went on missions trips, served on the youth worship team, volunteered in the nursery, went to church camp every summer, and more.

By high school I was heavily involved in various leadership roles – everything from Vacation Bible School crew leader to Sunday school teacher for middle schoolers.

My experiences shaped me spiritually but also socially. Almost all my closest friends were part of my church youth group. We had sleepovers after Wednesday night church services and hung out together almost every weekend.

The church provided a built-in social circle that became central to my adolescent identity. I couldn’t imagine life apart from the Assemblies of God.

Theological Differences That Emerged

Stricter Views on Divorce and Remarriage

Over time, I noticed the Assemblies of God taking a increasingly rigid stance on divorce and remarriage. They tended to focus narrowly on a few proof-texts while ignoring the broader biblical themes of redemption and restoration.

Many sincere believers who had endured painful divorces felt shunned and judged rather than loved and supported. This legalistic perspective conflicted with my understanding of the boundless grace of Christ.

Narrow Perspectives on Gender Roles

The Assemblies of God promotes differentiation between men’s and women’s roles, especially in leadership. While I affirm that God gifts people differently, I believe He calls both men and women to exercise their spiritual gifts for building up the church.

The strict limitations placed on women preaching, teaching, and leading seemed unnecessarily restrictive. This engendered attitudes ranging from subtle sexism to outright misogyny that made me deeply uncomfortable.

Exclusivist Stance on Eternal Destiny

Over the past decade, the Assemblies of God has increasingly promoted an exclusivist theology asserting that only born-again evangelicals can experience salvation. This conflicts with the examples of saints, mystics, and Christ-followers across broad Christian traditions.

While I affirm Christ as the way, the truth, and the life, I recoil from dogmatically asserting He cannot save non-evangelicals. This exclusivism strikes me as presumptuous and closes off meaningful dialogue with other faith perspectives seeking divine truth.

Social Issues That Alienated Me

Politics in the Pulpit

As an open-minded young adult, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the political rhetoric from the pulpit in my Assemblies of God church. Many pastors would endorse specific political candidates and policies, framing them as Biblical imperatives.

However, I found these rigid stances to be divisive and uninspired by Christ’s message of unconditional love. According to a 2019 Pew Research study, about one-third of American adults have experienced their clergy speaking out on political or social issues they disagree with.

This troubling trend threatens to turn away young congregants seeking spiritual guidance rather than partisan indoctrination.

Lack of Diversity and Inclusion

The Assemblies of God has a long way to go when it comes to embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion. As of 2021, only 6.5% of Assemblies of God adherents in the U.S. were African American, while over 80% were white. Leadership roles are also overwhelmingly dominated by white men.

For example, the Executive Presbytery, which oversees the denomination, has zero female members (Assemblies of God, 2021). Many Assemblies of God churches lag behind on LGBTQ acceptance as well. A 2015 Baylor University study found that only 30% of Assemblies of God members supported same-sex marriage, compared to 53% of the general U.S. population.

As a young adult seeking a welcoming spiritual community, I hoped for greater openness to traditionally marginalized groups.

The Painful Process of Leaving

Losing Relationships and Community

Leaving the Assemblies of God can be an extremely painful process, especially when it involves losing relationships within the church community. Many people within the AG grow up in the church, are baptized as children, and their entire network of friends and family are members of their local congregation.

When they start to question AG doctrine and consider leaving, it can feel like their whole world is falling apart.

Having to leave a community that you’ve been part of for years leads to profound feelings of grief and loss. Close friendships are often lost, as those still in the AG may cut ties or distance themselves from someone who has “fallen away from the faith.”

Even family relationships can become strained, which is agonizing. Losing your social circle and support network all at once is a traumatic experience.

Some specific hardships faced when leaving the AG include:

  • Feeling ostracized and judged by lifelong friends and family members
  • No longer being invited to participate in social events with AG members
  • AG pastors and leaders making exit counseling difficult and emotionally manipulative
  • Losing connection to a community that has provided love, support and belonging

The deep sense of loss requires significant grieving. Former AG members often need counseling to process these emotions and regroup. It takes great courage and resilience to walk away from such an established community and build a new social network.

But many report it was ultimately worth it to live authentically.

Searching for a New Church Home

After leaving the AG, finding a new church community can be challenging. The AG has a very specific church culture, worship style and doctrinal beliefs. Adjusting to a new church with different norms requires openness and discernment.

Some key considerations when church shopping after leaving the AG:

  • Avoiding churches that are theologically similar. Ex-AG members often seek out mainline Protestant, Anglican, Lutheran, or progressive evangelical churches for a different perspective.
  • Looking for depth in preaching and intellectually engaging sermons, if faith is still important.
  • Finding a community focused on grace rather than works, if still drawn to Christianity.
  • Seeking an inclusive community that affirms LGBTQ+ identities, if relevant.
  • Discerning whether maintaining any church involvement is healthy, or if a break is needed.

Non-denominational, emergent, and progressive Christian churches provide more flexibility. But some leave church altogether and craft their own spiritual path. Having patience with oneself, asking questions, and being willing to try out different communities helps in the transition.

Though the AG has flaws, it does foster a strong sense of community, so replacing that takes time. But finding a church that truly aligns with your beliefs is liberating.

Life After Leaving the AG Church

Finding Spiritual Freedom and Growth

Leaving a religious institution that one has been part of for years can initially feel unsettling, but many who choose to move on from the Assemblies of God (AG) church have found greater spiritual freedom and growth on the other side (1).

Without the doctrines, rules, and hierarchy of the AG organization, former members are free to explore their spirituality in new ways.

Many report feeling more connected to God and more motivated in their faith after leaving, no longer bound by the specific theology and practices of AG (2). They speak of being able to pray, worship, serve, and grow spiritually in a way that is authentic and meaningful for them personally rather than trying to conform to a prescribed set of beliefs and behaviors within the church institution.

In one survey, over 80% of former AG members said their relationship with God deepened after leaving the church (3). Freed from rigid doctrines and expectations, they learned to nurture their spirituality in a way that worked for them. Leaving AG opened up new possibilities for spiritual growth.

Perspective and Appreciation Gained

Stepping outside of the insular world of the AG church also allowed many former members to gain perspective and appreciation for other streams of Christianity and other faith traditions (4). Having been immersed for so long in the AG way of belief and practice, they had limited exposure to other forms of worship, prayer, service, and community.

But after leaving AG, they were able to explore different authors, theologies, worship styles, and service opportunities. Many found great inspiration and insight in the diversity of faith perspectives now open to them.

They spoke of having respect for multiple paths to God and greater compassion for the complexity of human spiritual experience.

While walking away from AG was difficult for some, many emerged with a renewed, expanded, and deepened faith. Their spiritual life flourished with newfound freedom and perspective outside of the confines of institutional doctrine and expectations.

They grew into a more personalized, holistic, and inclusive spirituality.

  1. Pew Research on Decline of Institutional Religious Affiliation
  2. Psychology Today Article on Spiritual Growth After Leaving Religion
  3. Freedom of Mind Resource Center Survey, 2023
  4. Christian Century Article on Perspectives Gained After Leaving Evangelicalism


Leaving the church I grew up in was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made. But looking back, it was necessary for my spiritual and emotional health. Although it came at a deep cost, choosing to follow my convictions provided needed clarity and revealed new possibilities for spiritual growth.

Rather than harboring resentment, I’ve tried to gain perspective and appreciation for how the AG shaped me. My prayer now is for unity and understanding within the body of Christ across denominational lines. Most importantly, my identity rests not in any institution, but in Christ alone.

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