Convention activities kicked-off today with a time of early-morning prayer, intercession and worship, which followed a time of fellowship over breakfast.

After acoustic worship with Senior Pastor Roger Thrower from New Hope Foursquare Church in Fairmont, W.Va., Tony Krishack, founding pastor of Victory Christian Center in Houston and supervisor of the South Texas District Foursquare Churches brought a somber and vulnerable tone to the first morning session, honestly speaking about his wife’s death for the first time in public.

After living with extreme pain for a long period of time, Krishack’s wife, Maxine, took her own life while he was away installing new pastors into service. She left behind a tender and beloved note, writing that she couldn’t “see myself coming back from this.”

Krishack’s sermon was titled, “A Place Called There.” Speaking from Jeremiah 18, he noted verses 2 and 3: “ ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.’ Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel” (emphasis added, NKJV).

Pointing to pictures of inconceivable pain painted in Jeremiah 19, the pastor said that God was there in the midst of His people’s pain, helping to navigate them back to shore.

“I’m not back to shore, but I can see it,” he said. “Thank God I can see it. There was a time when I couldn’t see it.”

He later added: “There are some wounds you don’t recover from. There’s an innocence that’s no longer there. You’re going to be remade into another vessel as it pleases Him.” Then he asked people to surrender to what the Lord is asking: “Can I do with you as the potter does with his clay? Do I have permission to be Lord of your pain?”

At the conclusion of this heartfelt message, Pastor Jack invited people forward for a time of prayer and healing from their own pain. He openly acknowledged that the Foursquare denomination had experienced much pain, from Sister Aimee McPherson being mocked by the church, Foursquare presidents that have stepped down through painful times, and even Christians at large being trivialized by the culture. There is a “spirit of healing and expectation,” said Pastor Jack. Building on Krishack’s words, he added: “We can see the other side!”

After the time of prayer, Art Gray, vice president/director of urban and multicultural ministries, and El Clark, corporate counsel for The Foursquare Church, announced the bylaw amendments that would be voted on later Tuesday night, which was followed by a brief time of worship with Carolyn Foster and Eric Green.

Pastor Jack then introduced J. W. Macklin, who serves over the Northern California Prelate of the Church of God in Christ. Noting that Christians are “paranoid” that they might cause a disturbance in already “noisy” world, Bishop Macklin said: “If Christ is all we believe him to be … if the dead in Christ are going to rise first—and we will—how can we remain silent in a noisy world?”

He added that the gospel is by its very nature disturbing, and it is okay to disturb people with its powerful message. “The gospel disturbs you before it saves you,” he emphasized.

He added that we should look to Jesus as a key example of disturbance. “We want to put Jesus up as this kind spirit … [who] taught nice lessons and made everyone feel good. That’s not the way I read my Bible. He disturbed governments—ask Herod.”

Macklin concluded by asking the crowd to rise to their feet and proclaim: “I will not be silent anymore!”

Following the morning sessions, the afternoon saw convention attendees taking part in 24 workshops on such practical topics as new Foursquare initiatives, becoming a better leader, building relationships and ministering to teens and tweens. The exhibit hall—which comprised of more than 90 vendors, an internet café, live music, prize giveaways and various locations for food and fellowship—also opened at various times throughout the day for guests to enjoy and connect.

Evening Session

The Foursquare family then rallied together in the George R. Brown Convention Center this evening for a special concert as well as additional teaching largely focusing on the next generation.

After a video highlighting the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, Robert Stearns, director of the ministry network Eagles’ Wings, joined Pastor Jack on stage to tell how 160 registered churches joined in praying for Israel on the first Sunday in October last year. Churches were encouraged to become involved, with more information available online at www.daytopray.com.

Next a special video presentation highlighted the 34 couples or singles receiving 25-year service awards. Following the presentation, the recipients stood and were honored with applause.

Pastor Jack then noted how important the next generation is and that Foursquare is making a commitment to have a renewed attention on youth. He noted that Foursquare pastors as a whole need to make more time for youth, and reach out and call young people in the Word for life. This includes helping youth find their life-purpose.

Foursquare’s president then commended National NextGen Ministries Director James Craft for his leadership and for the success of Foursquare NextGen Summit ’08, and announced that Foursquare NextGen Summit ’10 would take place in 2009 in two cities. “God is indeed working in young peoples’ awakening in the Foursquare church,” said Pastor Jack.

The evening’s Impact session featured Craft interviewing Teen Mania founder Ron Luce. Craft and Luce discussed the importance of the entire church committing to the next generation—that it cannot simply be the youth pastor’s responsibility.

Luce is encouraging Foursquare churches to join him in a mission to double youth groups each year by creating a culture within the church and within the home that is stronger than the culture at large. He added that parents need to learn how to better pour into their children, and become better aware of what their kids are consuming.

“Parenting is sacrifice; we’ll sacrifice now or sacrifice later,” noted Luce, who has two teens of his own. “Kids are older a lot longer than they are young.” He concluded by praying that Jesus would awaken youth.

Pastor Jack then introduced award-winning worship group Israel & New Breed, who held a special worship concert directly following the Impact session for the packed house. The group of professional, multi-cultural musicians kicked-off with their popular song “Lord You are God,” with the audience joining on their feet in a time of exciting praise.

After three more songs, Israel Houghton, the group’s lead singer and a member of the worship team at Lakewood Church in Houston, told the story of how his white mom got pregnant at age 17 by a black man. She was encouraged by her family to get an abortion, but a woman from a Foursquare church prayed for his mom, and that is why he is here today.

He segued into popular praise chorus “How Great is Our God” and then slowed the tempo down with the hymn “How Great Thou Art,” followed by the worshipful “If not for Your Grace” and concluding with “Alpha and Omega,” a song Israel said he learned in Zimbabwe.

Pastor Jack led the crowd, still on their feet, in a time of prayer, encouraging individuals to praise God by speaking out loud, with Israel continuing to lead worship.

He then debuted a brand new video titled, We Are Foursquare, which tells about the history of Foursquare, as well as information about the church’s current ministries. With personal interviews of how people are plugged into Foursquare, as well as information about the future of the movement, the video was met with applause and an agreement that “We are Foursquare!” The video will be mailed to all pastors at the end of June.

General Supervisor Glenn Burris Jr. joined Pastor Jack on stage to update pastors on the new Foursquare Association. He said 400 people have expressed interest, with 100 applications and several already joining. He added that it’s an exciting link to Foursquare’s heritage that has been around since the beginning, adding that this shows Foursquare is committed to more than a brand of Christianity—“we are committed to the kingdom.”

Robert Flores was announced as interim president of Life Pacific College (also known as LIFE Bible College), and was then introduced to the audience. Mike Larkin was also honored with a standing ovation for his time as director of Foursquare Missions International (FMI).

Following a short time of worship, Pastor Jack introduced Dale Evrist, founding pastor of New Song Christian Fellowship in Brentwood, Tenn. He noted the church’s work in the lives of young people.

Evrist spoke from Acts 4:23, encouraging the Foursquare family to retain their commitment to being “Kingdom Comrades.”

“One of the things God is wanting to do this week among us is to go to a deep and abiding place of kinship,” said Evrist.

He reminisced on the reasons he came into Foursquare: “We wanted to join a group, be a part of a people, find a tribe we could identify with and grow into the future with.”

He encouraged people to embrace each other this week and noted that those who need prayer or counsel this week should be “celebrated not tolerated.”

He added that in Foursquare, our time spent together is worthwhile. “We don’t have dry meetings, dead times, lifeless events,” Evrist said. “In our event we’re not content with anything other than the fullness of God’s Spirit being fully on display whenever we gather, whatever we do.”

The time together concluded with prayer and ministry.