Bring your independent church into Foursquare
When your existing church joins the Foursquare community as a Covenant church, you will receive the spiritual care, leadership and resources that a worldwide movement can provide.
The Birth of The Covenant Church
The idea of a Covenant church has been in the heart of Foursquare leadership for many years as one option for churches to be part of the Foursquare family through something called the Foursquare Association. The concept of Covenant church was totally recast in 2016 to fulfill a longtime goal of creating new options for local Foursquare churches to own and manage real property, which is a contrast to our historical model for property ownership where title to real property has been jointly owned by all Foursquare churches via our corporate structure.
The Covenant Agreement Adopted
In June 2016, the Foursquare convention body adopted a bylaw revision to provide for a Covenant church to be a local Foursquare church, but with its own corporate existence. The unique feature is the existence of a written covenant agreement, voluntarily entered into by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG) and the local Covenant church. In the covenant agreement, the local Covenant church pledges itself to adhere to the bylaws of ICFG and to operate fully as a local Foursquare church. In turn, ICFG pledges itself to provide covering and care to a local church.
Here’s how it all works
Consultation between senior pastor and a member of the district supervisory team.
Your local district office will be your first point of contact for any questions you may have throughout this process. The district office is led by a district supervisor who, along with his/her staff, is commissioned to champion and facilitate three Missional Objectives with the churches they serve:
- Leadership Development: the intentional development of disciples and leaders in a local church
- Church Transformation: community engagement in missional activity as well as intentional efforts toward church and pastoral health
- Church and Congregation Multiplication: establishing and supporting new churches as well as “missional congregations,” such as ethnic congregations, satellite locations, multi-site churches and other models that result in movements within the movement
As your church considers entering a Covenant relationship with the Foursquare family, we invite you to learn about the Foursquare story, what we believe and how we grow healthy, reproducing churches. If, after reading this material, your church would like to move forward in the process, you should request a meeting between the local district supervisor and your leadership team so that they can pray and discern together God’s plan for your church in this process.
Church reviews orientation video and materials.
This orientation video will help orient you and the church to the Foursquare Covenant church process by outlining the important aspects of the Covenant relationship, and the steps involved in the application process.
We also recommend you read the Frequently Asked Questions document, which may answer some of the questions you and your leadership may have about the process.
Senior pastor engages process to receive a Foursquare credential.
One important requirement of all Foursquare churches (which includes Covenant churches) is for the senior pastor to maintain an active Foursquare ministerial credential. After your church has met with the district supervisor or his/her representative, and the church leadership and district supervisor have decided to proceed with the Covenant church process, if your senior pastor is not currently holding a Foursquare ministerial credential, he/she will be invited to begin the ministerial licensing process.
The Foursquare ministerial licensing process will walk through, in greater detail, the history, doctrine and polity of The Foursquare Church. This process will also help to confirm whether the doctrinal beliefs of your church and the Foursquare movement are in unity.
While the senior pastor works through the ministerial licensing process with their coach (assigned by the district office), the district and the church can continue to move ahead in the Covenant church application process. The senior pastor will need to receive his/her ministerial credential either prior to, or concurrent with, the signing of the Covenant agreement by the Foursquare board of directors.
Church completes form AR1c and compiles documents.
To initiate the application process, the district office will provide Foursquare form AR-1c: Application to Become a Covenant Church. This form includes a request for copies of the documents listed below, along with a short questionnaire about past legal and financial activities of your organization.
The documents listed below (and itemized in section 2 of form AR-1c) will be reviewed by the district office and by various departments of the central office as part of the application process.
Articles of incorporation
You will need to supply the articles of incorporation filed by your local church corporation. If there have been any subsequently filed amendments (which is rare), please supply dated copies of those amendments as well. If your church is not incorporated, please let the district office know that right away so they can work with you to determine next steps.
Most churches, whether incorporated or unincorporated, have bylaws that govern the operations of the church. In signing the Covenant agreement, your local church board voluntarily agrees to apply Foursquare bylaws in place of its own bylaws and to operate the church under all Foursquare adopted policies and procedures. As a result, your organization will become a Foursquare church (as defined in the Foursquare bylaws) with respect to all ecclesiastical, polity and relational issues.
For real property transaction purposes, the local church will follow the Covenant church property transaction process as outlined in the Foursquare bylaws. There are two unique provisions in our bylaws regarding the real property transaction process for Covenant churches. A Covenant church does not obtain ICFG board approval for a property transaction, and the transaction will be placed in the name of the local church and not ICFG.
Note: By signing the Covenant agreement, your church board voluntarily agrees that the Foursquare bylaws will supersede your existing bylaws; thus, there should be no need to make any amendments to your bylaws.
Insurance policies—current year only
Every Foursquare (Charter or Covenant) church is required to maintain adequate insurance for church activities. This obligation is the joint responsibility of the pastor and members of the church board or council. Please provide copies of all current insurance policies, including property, liability, workers comp, sexual misconduct and officers/directors insurance. These will be reviewed by the Foursquare Insurance Department for required minimum coverages.
Two years’ financial history
You will be asked to submit the church’s past two years’ financial history to the district office. This will include: the statement of financial position (balance sheet) and the statement of financial activities (income statement).
List of current officers and directors
Please provide a list of the names and positions of the corporate officers, and names of the board of directors of your church corporation with the submission of the Form AR-1c.
IRS 501(c)3’s determination letter—to be updated after board confers
If your church has IRS 501(c)3 tax exempt status, your church will retain its existing 501(c)3 tax exempt status with the IRS for your corporation. Please supply a copy of the IRS determination letter with the submission of form AR-1c.
If your church does not yet have 501(c)3 status, after the Covenant agreement is signed by the officers of ICFG, the corporate secretary’s office will notify the IRS that your church corporation is to be included under ICFG’ s group exemption. The corporate secretary’s office will notify you in writing of this submission and will send you a letter from the IRS indicating that the corporation has been included under the group 501(c)3 exemption status of ICFG. Please keep this letter as part of your permanent records.
Certificate of good standing from state of incorporation
Please provide a current “certificate of good standing” for the church corporation from the state in which the church was incorporated. A certificate of good standing is a document that shows a corporation has met the statutory requirements and is authorized to do business in the state. This document may take some time to procure, so you may want to order it soon.
Local congregation votes to join as a Covenant church.
The Covenant agreement details the nature and relationship between the local church and The Foursquare Church. Foursquare commits that your church, through this Covenant, will be considered and treated as a Foursquare church. Your church, through this Covenant, commits to voluntarily apply the Foursquare bylaws in place of its own bylaws and agrees to follow and operate under all Foursquare adopted policies and procedures. As this is a very significant commitment for a church, the Covenant agreement requires ratification by a 3/4 supermajority of the congregants, and attestation of such through the signatures of the senior pastor and church board members.
Church delivers completed packet to the district office.
Your church will submit form AR-1c, the signed Covenant church agreement documenting the 3/4 supermajority vote, along with the documents requested as part of the AR-1c to the district office. The district office will review the application, and, after the district supervisor signs the application, it will be submitted to the Foursquare One Team for their review.
If there are any additional follow-up questions or missing documentation, the district office will contact you.
If your church operates a school, preschool and/or daycare under the same corporation as the existing church, the school, preschool and/or daycare would, as part of the Covenant agreement, need to adhere to the Foursquare guidelines as set forth by ICFG. The guidelines can be found in section 13 of the Handbook of the Operation of Foursquare Churches or by contacting the Foursquare One Team.
The school, preschool and/or daycare would, as part of the Covenant application process, need to complete the School, Preschool and/or Daycare Application Form (supplied to you by the district office) and provide the following documents to the district office as part of the covenant process:
- Copy of the state license certificate
- Copy of the fire safety approval
- Copy of local health department approval
- Teacher contracts (for schools)
- Tuition schedule
- Financials for last two years (Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet)
- Employee handbook
- Parent handbook
If the school, preschool and/or daycare operates under its own corporation (separate from your church corporation), then the school, preschool and/or daycare will continue as a separate entity. The school, preschool and/or daycare will not be subject to ICFG requirements or oversight, and will not be included as part of the covenant agreement.
ICFG Legal and Insurance departments review the application.
Upon receiving the completed form AR-1c application package and the signed Covenant church agreement, the Foursquare One Team will review the application and documentation provided. When the review is complete, the application will be submitted for inclusion on the ICFG board agenda.
ICFG issues a resolution to approve the transition.
The board will review the staff recommendations regarding the application packet and will form a resolution as to whether to approve the Covenant church application.
ICFG signs covenant agreement with local church corporation.
Upon approval, the Covenant agreement will be sent to the corporate secretary’s office to obtain signatures on behalf of the ICFG board of directors. The district office will provide the new Covenant church a written copy of the board resolution and a copy of the signed Covenant agreement for the permanent records of the church.
Church staff receives logins to access The Foursquare Hub.
Membership and activity records for every Foursquare church and minister are tracked in an enterprise-level database known as The Foursquare Hub. The Hub also serves as the portal for reporting missional and financial activity of the church, tracking appointments of Foursquare ministers, applying for ministerial credentials and many other important functions.
The district office will assign the senior pastor and his/her designees with login credentials to The Foursquare Hub. The senior pastor and those handling the administrative aspects of the church should become familiar with The Hub by watching the tutorial videos available through the Foursquare Administrative Toolkit. Please contact your district office if you have not yet been assigned login credentials for The Foursquare Hub.
District team welcomes Covenant church.
As a way to celebrate and honor your entry into the Foursquare family, the district office will present your church with a Covenant plaque. Your district office will contact you to schedule this presentation.
The district office will include your church in their communications regarding upcoming events, such as camps, leadership trainings and other regular communications. You will also receive communications from our central office, including invitations to participate in national events such as Foursquare Connection, our convention for Foursquare ministers.
The local church board assumes responsibilities.
As stated in the Covenant agreement, your church board will remain intact for purposes of the church corporation, and will also serve as the “church council,” which is the term used in Foursquare bylaws and other Foursquare policies. Your church board will be responsible for continuing to maintain its corporate status and comply with all state and federal laws.
The Foursquare One Team, including your district, provide support.
The Foursquare Church has many resources available through the Foursquare Administrative Toolkit. This is a compilation of videos, templates, diagrams and other helpful resources that may assist the church with administrative questions and provide practical tools on these topics: the legal and financial responsibilities of pastoral leaders; clergy taxation; church compensation practices; and the roles and responsibilities of a church council.
The district office will continue to provide ongoing care and consultation for your church. If, at any time, your church has a question or concern, please contact them. They will assist you, or direct you to a member of the Foursquare One Team who can assist you.
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Not a Foursquare Church but looking to affiliate?
Foursquare Community churches are completely autonomous and independent legal entities. A Foursquare Community Church affiliates with Foursquare but is not a Foursquare legal entity. There are numerous benefits to becoming a member of the Foursquare Association as a Community Church.