I recently took my third trip to the Holy Land, and I found it amazing how much one can learn that had been missed on other trips. We concluded our week by ascending to Jerusalem, where we visited Yad Vashem, a memorial to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Within the exhibit is a section titled “The Righteous Among the Nations.” It celebrates the lives of hundreds of extraordinary heroes who stepped up in a time of crisis and took great risks to save others.
Israel’s history is full of promises, failures, contradictions, war, antagonism, conflicts, global scorn and so on. When you read about the centuries of conquering forces that have destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed again, and rebuilt their city and country, it makes it a bit more tolerable to understand their very passionate nationalism. And while the Jewish people’s confidence in Scripture has given them a deep conviction of a spiritual destiny, their spiritual history is filled with compromise or passive behavior by their leaders. In many of these instances, God intervened, and Israel was restored.
Similarly, much of what we read today about the spiritual condition of the church declares that we are in a post-Christian era in the West. The very institution of the church seems to be up for grabs on many fronts, especially in Europe and North America. The reality is that if the church does not wake up and realize that its voice (influence) is being marginalized, threatened and in some cases silenced, then we will one day discover we have become irrelevant to the world around us.
My belief is we must find ourselves at work in the vortex of life in our communities and that the church should be looked to as a leading voice in the midst of crisis and moral dilemmas. It is vital that we add irreplaceable value to the lives of others and our light “so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16, NKJV).
The Foursquare Church, which began as a local church in 1923, has become a worldwide movement. The early days of our family’s history began in the pinnacle of revival. While we don’t yearn to go back, we must contend for a future that is filled with more than just strategies and plans. I humbly submit to you that we must contend for God’s power and presence more than we contend for growth. I believe that fruitfulness is a byproduct of our willingness to submit fully and freely to His plans for our church family!
Acts 18:9 records that the Lord visited the apostle Paul in a dream. God spoke these words to him: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent” (NIV). It is those words that challenge us during these important days to not allow the circumstances of this season to silence our voice. We must “Speak” and “Reclaim Our Voice.” It must not go silent. Too many people are depending on us to step up and lead! There are precious lives bound with hopelessness and fear. Unlimited opportunities are before us—and God’s answer is and has always been His church!
Last year I shared with the cabinet the Five Targets around which we were going to focus our time, energy and resources. This missional framework of (1) Leaders, (2) Churches, (3) Nations, (4) People Groups and (5) Resources framed the beginning of a larger conversation about the need for a simple set of overall objectives for our denomination. I want to share with you how I see those targets fitting into the larger context of the multilayered organization we call The Foursquare Church—which comprises our National Church Office (NCO), district offices, local churches and credentialed ministers.
I realize there is confusion at times even with the term, “The Foursquare Church.” It is important to continue to dialogue so that there is clarity about this conversation. This article is an attempt to aid in that dialogue. We are well on our way to adequately addressing the distinct roles of NCO, district offices, local churches and credentialed ministers. This article deals primarily with the national and district roles in the pursuit of our mission.
When you think of the human body, you see the genius of our God, who integrated the body, mind and spirit. When the body functions in a holistic way, the synergy created provides enormous momentum. When there is conflict, ill health or misalignment, however, maximum effectiveness will be lacking. In fact, if we are not healthy at every level we will face significant obstacles to fulfilling the Lord’s Great Commission. I believe we are at a point of convergence due to great wisdom we have gained from significant leaders, learned experiences from past successes and failures, and the continued influence and insights of the Holy Spirit (being revealed through prayer and prophecy).
I’m convinced we are regaining a renewed sense of identity and focus. We still have work to do; but simply put, I believe that The Foursquare Church is a Movement (of leaders and churches) with a Message (Jesus is our Savior, Healer, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and Soon-Coming King) that is on a Mission (to make disciples of all nations). We are not reinventing our movement as much as we are rediscovering it—though we should not be afraid to radically rethink how we approach fulfilling the call God placed on us. It combines for a future filled with new possibilities!
When I was asked to step in as interim president in 2009, I outlined for the board of directors a fairly straight-forward, three-step approach to our journey together. It continues to frame the way I think about our life together. Here is the larger framework that encompasses the five targets:
- Spiritual Vitality
- Organizational Health
- Missional Effectiveness
SPIRITUAL VITALITY. It is critical to the success of our movement that we declare our absolute dependency on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. From Joel’s prophetic words to the birth of the early church in Jerusalem, we have a clear precedent that the full release of God’s plan comes when men and women yield to the work of the Spirit. We have committed ourselves to:
- A prayer culture: Our Monday morning Foursquare Leader Prayer emails call our movement to prayer each week. We have enlisted specific calls to prayer and fasting for cabinet, convention and in the life of our church! We have launched a prayer strategy leading up to our Global Summit, engaging our global family in prayer.
- A season in the Word: During my first year, we challenged our movement to read through the book of Acts daily. We bolstered that with devotions and study materials surrounding the birth and establishment of the early church. This year, we are connecting through the Gospels, revisiting the powerful and incarnational life of Jesus Christ. Next year, we will challenge our global church to engage in the Life Journal reading plan. Many leaders are already involved. It gives us an opportunity to challenge leaders to share their journals with other leaders, engaging in a mentoring culture. I believe this could revolutionize our movement and, in turn, our world.
- An invitation to the work of the Holy Spirit: From cabinet to board meetings to our Connection events to our staff chapels at the central office to our global meetings, we are inviting the freshly anointed visitation of the Spirit in our midst! We invite a prophetic overtone and a high priority of sensing and yielding to God’s presence among us.
ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH. When heading into Connection 2010 in Atlanta, our board of directors made an important decision to be transparent about the realities of both our financial history and our current financial overview. That decision has marked the beginning of an authentic journey that engages our movement by being open with information concerning the life of our church.
I’m convinced that you can get the spiritual vitality right, but if the health of an organization is dysfunctional—if an organization does not engage its members with clear and concise information, does not have a clear sense of identity and mission, and does not intentionally create a climate of empowerment and enfranchisement—then you will not have the strength of the unity that emerges when you lead with health. We don’t have it down fully yet, but we are trending in the right directions. I believe there are three very powerful cultures that you have to intentionally create to advance:
- Assessment: You must be willing to look at the uncensored realities of the world that you are responsible for. This is an important “dashboard,” if you will, that gives you a concise appraisal of the arenas that are under your watch. Whether they’re financial, spiritual, administrative and so on, they all have to be continually monitored to assure that you are on target with mission. It also allows you to make midcourse corrections that will significantly improve the way you serve.
- Alignment: Just as the body functions at maximum efficiency when it is aligned, so does an organization. When we are interdependent, rather than independent or dependent, our effectiveness is multiplied. As you audit internal processes, you discover unintentional silos and breakdowns of communication and process. We must continue to streamline, coordinate, communicate, minimize redundancies, clarify, etc.
- Accountability: I have a strong conviction that there should be accountability at every level in our organization. It is biblical and healthy, and it contributes to a culture of trust, safety and success.
MISSIONAL EFFECTIVENESS: We have sounded a clarion call back to the primary mission of the church. In doing so, we have identified Five Targets that reflect the DNA of The Foursquare Church from its inception. I can’t emphasize enough that our primary missional effectiveness will be the result of what happens locally, not nationally. The partnership at the district and national levels is critical for coordination and resourcing, but “where the rubber meets the road” is at the local church level. Leaders are discipled, churches are planted, nations are reached and people groups are embraced and released through the local church. NCO and Foursquare Missions International (FMI) will be sharing strategies, partnerships and “next steps.” It is vital that we get this critical balance right—between the central office, district offices and local churches.
Our missional framework comprises:
- Leaders: Our founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, immediately established the Echo Park Evangelistic and Missionary Training Institute. That institute morphed into L.I.F.E. (Lighthouse Institute of Foursquare Evangelism). The high value of developing a culture of mentoring and discipleship was infused into the DNA of Angelus Temple from the beginning. Through the years, we have drifted from the intentionality of this target and value. It is important that we find our way back to prioritize this as a main target of our missional efforts and contend for healthy, reproducing leaders.
- Churches: Our movement exploded because its leader was unafraid to multiply and release leaders to plant churches nationally and internationally. We want to return to our roots and become a church planting movement once more. We want every healthy church to see itself as a resource center that is unafraid to multiply.
- Nations: Our founding church sent leaders around the world. The goal was indigenizing nations. Through the Four-Stage Development Model, we have seen that dream become a reality. The U.S. Foursquare Church pioneered the work around the world. We then became its supervisor, evolved to help facilitate it, and now find ourselves at an important crossroads to redefine our partnerships at a global level. Twenty-one nations now send missionaries around the world, including here to the United States. What an amazing opportunity there is before us! The Four-Stage Development Model is also a good model to use to evaluate our local churches: Stage 1 (Initiate – Evangelize – Reproduce Disciples), Stage 2 (Nurture – Strengthen – Reproduce Leaders), Stage 3 (Expand – Multiply – Reproduce Congregations), Stage 4 (Send – Extend – Reproduce Missionary Sending Churches).
- People Groups: The prophet Joel said a day was coming when multiple generations would minister together, when both genders would be celebrated for their ministry gifts and call, and when people from all nations would help lead in kingdom expansion. We want to intentionally accelerate and facilitate this work of the Spirit.
- Resources: In every arena—from administration to structure to finance—it’s our commitment to help align our resources to the primary mission of the church. It’s an exciting day to evaluate, deliberate and decide together how we can best resource our mission.
Practical Ways The Foursquare Church Is Resourcing Our Mission
- Connection 2012 “Speak—Reclaim Your Voice” will be held in Phoenix, May 28-31. Our theme this year is designed for strengthening your ministry, calling and vision. If you haven’t yet registered, please make this time together a priority on your busy calendar.
- Immediately following Connection 2012 is the Global Summit. For the first time in 25 years, leaders from more than 60 nations will come together to establish a global eldering community, build a global strategy, refine our global infrastructure and help resource every nation to send workers to bring the Good News of Christ to the world. Please pray for us as we come together in June; visit www.4sq.ca/globalprayer to learn more.
- At last year’s Connection, we took a $1 million FMI faith-pledge offering. Less than half the funds have come in with just three months left in the pledge (around $425,000 had been received as of March 31). Please—if you haven’t already—follow through with your commitment so that FMI can resource the works around the world that they intend to aid with this money.
- In our ongoing efforts to be transparent, we have posted updates and information from the Foursquare cabinet meetings, which took place in March. Please take time to review the information posted so you will be prepared to vote during Connection 2012 on important Foursquare matters. Visit 4sq.ca/cabinet2012.
- The brand-new Daily Acts devotional is a compilation of last year’s weekly Foursquare Leader Prayer emails. It is a tremendous resource that now includes study questions. It is great for local church use, and it’s available for your digital reader or in print. Bulk print orders are also available. Visit www.foursquare.org/dailyacts for more information.
- The completely redesigned issue of Foursquare Leader that recently mailed is the result of feedback from our local leaders. We hope you will enjoy reading through it quarterly for insight and inspiration, and to stay up to date on the life of The Foursquare Church.
We have enormous challenges before us. But we also have unprecedented opportunity. With the Lord’s help, we will continue to see the reformation of our movement into a formidable force that will assault the gates of hell, tear them down, and advance the kingdom of God through an unparalleled season of fruitfulness and expansion.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we contend together for the 2 billion souls who have yet to hear the gospel! It is possible to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our lifetime. And then, the end will come!
By: Glenn Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church