Charles T. Crabtree
A focus on discipleship and unity
After announcing his resignation as assistant general superintendent, Charles T. Crabtree sat down for an interview with Editor Ken Horn. Crabtree served as assistant general superintendent for 14 years.
tpe: Brother Crabtree, how did you make the decision to not run again for office?
CRABTREE: Four years ago I turned 65. In the natural that is a time to really think about a change. After praying about it I basically got direction from the Lord to run one more time. I knew at that time it would be wise to step down at the end of this term and allow new leadership to move in.
tpe: You originally came to national headquarters as Decade of Harvest director from a successful pastorate. Talk about your five years in that post.
CRABTREE: I was not seeking any kind of position. I was very happy as a pastor. It was divine direction. The Decade of Harvest (1990s) was a wake-up call to the Assemblies of God. I look at it as a process that God wanted us to go through. Even today I get calls from places where Decade of Harvest churches were started that would not have been had we not set goals. We did not meet a couple of those goals but were able to track the prayer goal.
We do know that hundreds of thousands of people were praying. We did reach the goal of credentialed ministers. We did raise the level of church planting in those first couple of years. But the Lord used it worldwide. There are some countries that have exploded because of the Decade of Harvest. I believe the American church overall has been strengthened. If we had not had the Decade of Harvest, I think we would not be as strong as we are today.
tpe: When you were elected assistant general superintendent, was it a surprise to you?
CRABTREE: I went to the General Council in Minneapolis extremely happy where I was. To tell you the truth, I was sitting there in total shock. I knew that it had to be a divine appointment.
tpe: How did you see the Fellowship change during your 14 years as assistant general superintendent?
CRABTREE: That’s a short time and a long time. The four of us [including General Superintendent Trask, General Secretary George O. Wood and General Treasurer James K. Bridges] are the longest-running team in history in those positions. This Fellowship is facing some tremendous issues. One is discipleship. We are seeing a worst of times and best of times scenario.
We are seeing the best of times in the energetic mission of this church. We are addressing the issue of evangelism in the inner cities like we have never done before. We are seeing creative ministries rise up. We are seeing the use of technology. All of these things are the very best of times.
The worst of times is that there is a lack of real commitment on the part of many of the Lord’s disciples in America. The Church, in many cases, is not depending on the power of the Holy Spirit as it should. In the last number of months, I’ve been almost consumed by the crisis of discipleship.
I think that is the vortex, the hinge on which everything is going to swing — the quality of discipleship in the Assemblies of God. What kind of disciples are we going to produce in the 21st Century? And because the quality of the church is based upon the quality of the people, what kind of people are we developing? Are we developing church people or are we developing Christ’s disciples?
tpe: We had a question submitted to the magazine recently: Is there a difference between a believer and a disciple?
CRABTREE: A vast difference. If you look at the great study in the Sermon on the Mount, you have to come to the conclusion that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is simply an open door to discipleship. Most people are believers in Christianity and in some of the teachings of Christ and they kind of believe in the Resurrection, but there’s a huge difference between mere believing and making Jesus Lord. We have many cultural Christians.
tpe: Will you miss your role as assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God and if so, what about it will you miss?
CRABTREE: I think I will miss it like I miss the pastorate. I look back in fondness, much like the years I spent as an evangelist. I still miss that in a sense. I look at my role of 25 years as a pastor, and I miss that in a certain way. I will miss being assistant general superintendent for the same reasons.
I was in God’s will, and I am the type that when it is over, it is over and I have no regrets. I will have no desire to hang on. I did my best. I was in the will of God. My last day in office, I will walk away, and it will be over. And I’ll be going through new open doors with the Lord.
tpe: How would you like your ministry to be remembered?
CRABTREE: I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted God’s will more than his own and who had absolutely no ego involved, but I did anything that God has seen fit to use me in.
tpe: Final thoughts?
CRABTREE: There is a plea in my spirit; there is so much that needs to be done in this country. The critical spiritual need is so great. Let’s begin to respect each other and to edify one another and to recognize that the Spirit’s anointing is unique on everyone. It’s time to stop criticizing one another. It’s time to understand that God is using some very creative and innovative methods everyone is not going to agree with or be comfortable with. But our job is to be workers together and build one another up and not tear each other down.
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4873 - 9/30/07