In 2000, the Apostolic Faith Mission adopted a new constitution which at national level marked the beginning of a new philosophy. According to this philosophy successful, proven Christian leaders and pastors fulfill the role of apostles. At the local level desentralisation is the major effect which allows churches to develop their own policies. In the adoption of its new constitution, the AFM looked to the Assemblies of God in Australia model.
Qualifications for membership are that one be born again, baptized, recognised as a member of a local assembly (church) and adhere to the Confession of Faith. Currently there are over 1.4 million AFM members in South Africa making the AFM the fifth largest religious grouping in South Africa. The AFM is known for its diversity enabling it to provide a religious home for people of various cultural identities.
The AFM is a growing church that prioritse church planting and growth. It has spread to all towns and villages in South Africa. The AFM has 1800 assemblies (churches) in South Africa – which makes it highly probable that there is an AFM assembly located within your suburb. Local assemblies are led by a pastor and governing body, of which the pastor is a member. In addition to being a member of the governing body, the pastor is the assembly’s “vision carrier”. The governing body appoints pastors.
Local assemblies are organised into geographical and non-geographical regions. In the case of geographical regions, leadership forums exist which are representative bodies consisting of pastors and delegates from each assembly. Every three years each forum elects a regional committee from among its members and a regional leader from among its pastors. The committee acts as an executive and advisory body to the regional leadership forum. Each region is represented by its leader on the National Leadership Forum. Non-geographical regions in the form of networks of local churches that share a peculiar ministry philosophy, also exist. These are normally led by the senior pastors of urban mega-churches who network with a number of local assemblies nation-wide that look to them for leadership and mentorship. The AFM has 43 geographical and non-geographical regions in South Africa.
The AFM’s national representative body is the triennial General Business Meeting. Its main function is the election of the national office bearers which includes the president, deputy president, general secretary and general treasurer. The national office bearers always represent the significant ethnic groups within the church. Each local assembly (church) is entitled to send a pastor and a delegate as voting members. Additional voting members are of the National Leadership Forum, members of standing committees, one additional member representing each church department and one additional representative of the church’s theological training institutions. Before 2000, the General Business Meeting was known as the Workers Council, met annually, and possessed greater power. After the adoption of the new constitution, most of the body’s power was transferred to the National Leadership Forum.
The National Leadership Forum, formerly known as the Executive Council, is the AFM’s policy making body and the guardian of doctrinal, ethical and liturgical matters in the church. It licenses pastors, sets standards for ministerial training and settles disputes. It also convenes the annual National Leadership Conference and the General Business Meeting. While it has power to create and implement regulations, over 50% of the regional leadership forums can veto a regulation within 90 days of its passage by the National Leadership Forum. The National Leadership Forum’s members are the national office bearers, the regional leaders, leaders of church departments and a representative of the AFM’s theological training institutions. It may appoint additional members at its discretion. The administrative affairs of the national church are under the oversight of the national officers.