Practical … insightful … real-world applications … those are an apt description of the Wednesday-morning sessions during the third day of Foursquare Connection 2012, which boasted a total attendance of more than 3,500 registered delegates, including children.
An opening morning prayer by Humberto Paz, Foursquare Missions International (FMI) area missionary to East and South Africa, was followed by a time of wholehearted praise and worship led by Eric Diaz. Author and speaker Margaret Feinberg then stepped onto the stage.
In a style that was eloquent yet uncontrived, engaging and down-to-earth, Margaret took her audience on a condensed version of the journey that she herself had experienced prior to writing Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey (Zondervan). As she shared the biblical insights and spiritual nuggets she’d gleaned via experiences with a vintner, a shepherd and a beekeeper, she encouraged those present to “continue scouting the divine, not just for yourself, but on behalf of the people and churches that you serve.”
Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. shared a moment onstage with bestselling author Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of New Hope (Oahu South Foursquare Church) in Honolulu, highlighting the Life Journals that have been made available to each attendee at the Connection Center. President Burris said that in 2013, the Foursquare family will have the opportunity to corporately follow the Life Journal reading and S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) plan.
Looking Back; Looking Ahead
Recipients of the 50- and 60-year service awards were honored next, and received a standing ovation from the audience. As that segment concluded, General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo introduced and interviewed author David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group.
“We [all generations] need each other now,” Kinnaman said. “The church is supposed to be a partnership of generations working to fulfill God’s purposes.”
After a short break, attendees participated in a variety of Learning and Connection Tracks. NextGen leaders, senior pastors and associate pastors remained in the main convention hall for a joint session with David Kinnaman, Kelly Fellows (national NextGen representative) and Bill Gross (missional development coach/consultant with the National Church Office).
David described three categories into which young adult Christians who experience faith struggles may fall: (1) nomads (those who walk away from the church but consider themselves Christians); (2) prodigals (those who lose their faith entirely); and (3) exiles (those who find themselves stuck between existing culture and the church).
He also noted that the profound social change in recent decades has resulted in a drastic decrease in the number of 30-somethings who have worked through steps of basic independence (i.e., living independently, finishing school, finding a job, marrying and having children), and discussed practical ways in which the church can engage the under-30 generation.
Following a question-and-answer time with David, senior pastors and leaders were dismissed to discussion groups based on church size, while NextGen leaders remained in the room. Other Learning and Connection Tracks offered Wednesday were targeted specifically for worship leaders, ForeRunners, church administrators, senior pastors and Foursquare scholars.
Of notable interest on Wednesday was Conexión Hispana, which was held at the Renaissance Hotel and attended by more than 300 Foursquare leaders. Worship was led by Frank Giraldo, senior pastor of Iglesia Agua Viva (Santa Barbara Hispanic Foursquare Church) in Santa Barbara, Calif. Speakers included José Manuel Sanchez, national leader of Foursquare Mexico; Frank Nuño, senior pastor of Dayspring Christian Fellowship (Panorama City Foursquare Church) in Panorama City, Calif.; Daniel Prieto, co-pastor of Hope Boulder (Boulder Flatirons Foursquare Church) in Boulder, Colo.; and evangelist Luis Palau.
Daniel Prieto unpacked a challenging vision of integration, unity and growth of the Hispanic movement within The Foursquare Church. Luis Palau stressed the need for Hispanics in the U.S. to assume an important role in the evangelizing of the nation. Frank Nuño challenged pastors and leaders to share the Word of God from a fully experiential perspective, allowing each of us to be transformed by it. Finally, José Manuel Sanchez encouraged each of the leaders present to stand ready to be appointed by God to a new season of great things never seen before.
Connection 2012’s Wednesday evening service had an international focus, and emphasized outreach and the importance of being filled with Holy Spirit power, experiencing signs and wonders.
Joy Mullings, national leader of Foursquare Jamaica, opened the service with a passionate prayer seeking God for the fullness of His presence in our Foursquare family. She called on the Holy Spirit for healing and wholeness for our leaders, and quoted from the prophet Jeremiah, praying that we would be so full of God’s power that it would be a fire in our bones.
Matt Redman and his band led the convention body in several sets of worship. At one point he prayed that our hearts and lives would resonate God’s glory as a blessing to the world.
Connection co-emcee Angie Richey interviewed Eric and Jodi Van Rhee, pastors of The Adventure (Draper Foursquare Church) in Draper, Utah, who said they saw an opportunity, not a challenge, as they planted seven churches in the greater Salt Lake City area. They consider themselves “domestic missionaries,” because only 3 percent of Utah residents claim to be Christians. The couple noted they are successful because of God’s grace, and are not out to convert Mormons. Instead, they hope to bring lost and broken people to Jesus Christ.
A Time to Honor
The convention body honored past Foursquare presidents for their contributions to The Foursquare Church. Of special note was a presentation to Pastor Jack Hayford by James Davis on behalf of the Billion Soul Network for his contribution as an elder statesman to the greater body of Christ.
Foursquare missionaries in attendance were recognized and thanked for their faithful service, and new Foursquare missionaries were anointed and commissioned to the fields of Peru, Costa Rica, Estonia and Mexico.
A video about Mexico was shown, which is also available on the Stories That Speak DVD. The country started with eight churches and now has close to 100, and has experienced five years of consistent growth. There is a Bible training institute that most pastors attend, as well as 70 centers that focus on youth drug prevention.
A Word From God
Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D., founder of The Coastlands (Aptos Foursquare Church) in Aptos, Calif., and Commended to the Word, spoke a prophetic word over the multiple generations of Foursquare leaders in attendance, calling on each person to offer himself or herself to be fully used by God to reach the world for Christ. “Don’t sit beside the fire,” he exhorted, but “lose yourselves in the flame of God.”
Ted Olbrich, FMI missionary to Cambodia with his wife, Sou, delivered a message focused on the importance of complete surrender to the Holy Spirit as the only connection between carnal man and a holy God. He said our assignment is to bind the works of the enemy on the earth and release the power of God. “We must be full of the Holy Spirit in order for the kingdom of God to come,” he said.
Ted’s entertaining, unconventional and deeply stirring delivery offered several opportunities for personal challenge and reflection. Arguably the most meaningful point he made was when he spoke about how 80,000 people on an island of 90,000 were brought to Jesus Christ through the ministry of some young, renegade, Cambodian believers who simply wanted to move out in the power of the Holy Spirit. Cambodia also boasts the fastest-growing church movement in the world, according to the Atlas of Global Christianity.
“Don’t you tell me you can’t do it,” Ted told the crowd. “If you have the Holy Spirit, you are in the majority.” Speaking about the value of praying in the Holy Spirit he added, “With tongues, the enemy does not have your code.”
As he concluded his message, Ted invited Pastor Jack Hayford to the stage, who led the congregation in a prayer of submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading, asking that what God did in the book of Acts, He would do through us. The evidence of the Spirit’s confirmation on the message was evident throughout the room. A time for personal ministry ensued, which was a poignant and powerful conclusion to the evening service.
Tomorrow, the last day of Connection 2012, will include a business session at 8:30 a.m., followed by the closing service at 10 a.m.
Read More About Connection 2012
By: Beth Mead, a Foursquare credentialed minister who serves in the National Church Office, and Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles