Starting a day later than in years past to give attendees a chance to enjoy the nearby theme parks may have shortened this year’s annual Foursquare gathering, but Connection 2013 managed to leave people feeling well fed without being overwhelmed.

The introduction of short QuickTalks, in which speakers had just three or four minutes to present a key thought or idea, proved popular. The nine mini-messages on topics such as prayer, restoration and the miraculous complemented longer keynote addresses on issues such as healthy leadership principles and life lessons from Joseph.

In addition to inspirational speaking and vibrant worship, there was plenty of positive information, too. Annual reports showed Foursquare to be financially healthy, while the number of churches scheduled to be planted in the United States in the next year was announced to be four times last year’s total. Video reports from the Middle East and South Pacific exemplified the growth of Foursquare Missions International worldwide.

Conventioneers found plenty of time to fellowship, catch up on old friendships, and pray together informally. Among those who left happy were David and Susie Edler, senior pastors of Yakima Foursquare Church in Yakima, Wash.

“We loved it,” David said. “It’s always wonderful to be in a place where everyone enters into worship, and the content was incredible—it spoke right to our circumstances, to our situations. It was very healing and challenging.”

Michael and Jannie Stubbs, senior pastors of Victory Fellowship Church (Emporia 2 Foursquare Church) in Emporia, Kan., agreed. “The speakers were amazing,” said Jannie. “I like hearing Foursquare people, but it’s also great to hear from people from outside, too.”

With Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., drawing families to this year’s gathering, almost 500 of the 3,179 total registrations for the event were children and teens. They enjoyed their own program, joining their parents for a final, lively multi-generational celebration.

While the May 28–30 gathering was hosted under the theme “Engage: Learn. Live. Lead,” many will look back on the event as centering on repentance, reformation and renewal.

Repentance

Godly sorrow and restoration were threads running through the convention from the first evening, when Sri Lankan National Leader Leslie Keegel brought a prophetic word that a major revival is coming, but that the world would need to see repentance modeled first by the church to know how to respond to God.

“I see Foursquare rising up as an apostolic movement to play a very significant role in this fast-approaching global revival,” Leslie stated. In preparation, established leaders need to model for emerging leaders a passion for God’s presence over concern about growth and numbers, he said.

Most of those in the hall for the Wednesday evening session rose in repentance themselves after hearing straight-talking keynote speaker John Bevere describe how too many Christians fail to honor people as the Bible prescribes—a failure to which he attributed the scarcity of miracles experienced in the U.S. compared to other parts of the world where God’s leaders are properly honored.

Reformation

Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud’s Wednesday morning message about the need for sometimes relationally difficult but “necessary endings” to things that have seen their day, as part of a healthy leadership style, was welcomed as “speaking prophetically to our movement” by Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr.

“There are things to let go of,” the renowned author and speaker said, citing Acts 15, which tells how the Jerusalem Council decided that the new Gentile converts did not need to be circumcised, as a model for Foursquare as the church looks to the future. “The mission became more important than the method,” he said.

Glenn also announced that 20 town hall meetings are to be held across the country as part of the denomination’s ongoing review and reordering of its structure, which aims to streamline things and push ministry responsibility and opportunity down from the corporate office to the local church level. The gatherings over the next year will present research findings and provide an opportunity for local pastors and church members to weigh in on how the denomination needs to reposition itself for effective mission in a changing culture.

The reshaping extends to Life Pacific College (also called LIFE Bible College), with Jim J. Adams, Ed.D., having been introduced at Thursday’s business meeting as new president of the 90-year-old school. This was “a defining moment” for the school, said Glenn, as it looks to make adjustments to meet the growing interest in education that prepares people for marketplace as well as traditional church-based ministry.

Other changes detailed at the convention included a new board and leadership for the Foursquare Foundation, while attendees also voted in favor of extending Foursquare’s board of directors from 20 to 25 members, and allowing absentee voting for president—electronically or by mail—at future conventions.

Renewal

For prophecies and plans to be realized, leaders were reminded in a variety of ways that they need to ensure their own physical, emotional and spiritual health.

In his Tuesday night address, longtime Foursquare leader Jerry Cook affirmed the doctrinal tenets of the movement’s foundation and encouraged attendees to remember that they are the presence of Jesus wherever they go.

“You are the point where miracles, wholeness can happen like that,” Jerry encouraged. “Just be there. Because you are there, it’s more whole than it was before you got there.”            

Several of the QuickTalk presenters spoke about the importance of personal prayer and devotions. Family and relational health issues were discussed, while De Rockwell, wife of Gateway District Supervisor Sam Rockwell, explained how leaders in their area are encouraged to pursue physical health and well-being, to ensure greater effectiveness in ministry.

Connection 2014 is to be held in Dallas, with the event moving to Anaheim, Calif., in 2015.

It’s not too late to get in on the Connection 2013 experience! Order the Foursquare Connection 2013 Experience Kit at a special rate of $149 (a $300 value). The kit includes all the speaker’s messages, video updates from the week’s events and more. Order online now.

Read More

Day 1 – Connection 2013 Engages Thousands in Florida

Day 2 – Connection 2013 Tackles Individual and Corporate Health

Day 3 – Connection 2013 Looks to Future in Multi-Generational Service

By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer living in the Orlando, Fla., area