Developing a theme for 2016 in The U.S. Foursquare Church and for Foursquare Connection 2016 evoked a sense that the season before us requires force, strength and momentum that exceeds what any of us could produce individually, or even what we could generate together.

Probably no other event shaped the church as did the Day of Pentecost. Believers had gathered together, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit, and they were not leaving until they had received the promise: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).

The believers gathered in the upper room faced unbelievably difficult circumstances: Jesus was no longer physically with them; the current political and religious climate was extremely dangerous; and they had few resources, with virtually no infrastructure. But they were not to undertake their God-given assignment alone.

The powerful God who had spoken the world into existence had chosen to reside within them. Their challenges would not subside, but God’s power would give them courage and determination to take the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, to every corner of the world.

The promise and the commission recorded in Acts 1:8 gave those early believers a focus for the future. Everything in their lives and ministries would be measured against this clear message from heaven—they didn’t need a consulting firm to sort out their priorities. The early church was empowered for unprecedented ministry:

  1. Compassionately transforming communities
  2. Fearlessly embracing the future
  3. Intentionally engaging culture
  4. Boldly penetrating the darkness

What an amazing legacy and focused mission the church has had from its very start. At the center of Pentecost was God’s design to ignite a fire in men and women of every tribe and nation, a fire that would remain throughout the generations and change the world.

In the context of that dynamic event of Pentecost, I am excited to announce that “Empowered” will be our 2016 theme for both The U.S. Foursquare Church and Foursquare Connection, which will be held in Honolulu May 30 through June 2.

Just as occurred with those believers at Pentecost, we have been empowered for the work to which we have been called. The fire of the Holy Spirit was never given for people to have bragging rights—it was sent to equip believers for the enormous challenges before them.

When we began our Reimagine process in Foursquare, we were all aware that the North American church was experiencing disturbing trends. Our own statistics and virtually every survey that came from the Pew Research Center, the Barna Group and others suggested that interest in organized religion was waning. Emerging generations were leaving the church in significant numbers.

Understanding that trend, we are making sure that everything we are responsible for has one focus: the Great Commission. That alignment affects every conversation we have, and it is the driving force behind our decisions.

It’s the reason we feel so strongly about our “Empowered” theme for this coming year. Unless we experience God’s touch and anointing, unless we are truly empowered, all of our efforts to align to our mission will be in vain.

I have no doubt that God is arranging these days for our Foursquare family to engage strategically in all that is happening in the church world. He is shaping us to be a strong force in these last days to expand His kingdom and influence our world. That is why we must contend for the renewing and refilling of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and in our ministries.

The work must begin in us first before it will be seen throughout our kingdom enterprises. I invite you to join with me in a prayer focus every Monday—communicated in the weekly Foursquare Leader Prayer email—that God will bring about a fresh wave of His presence, filling every spot in our lives. Jesus is building His church, one that even the gates of hell cannot hold back. Amen!