The more than 3,000 registered attendees of Foursquare Connection 2014 in Dallas enthusiastically welcomed the delivery of a bold road map for the future on Tuesday—and cheered the person chosen to lead the movement during the next stages of the journey.
Thousands of hours of research, discussion and prayer came to a head when Foursquare leaders from across nation and around the globe signaled their approval of the long-awaited proposals for realigning the movement for greater fruitfulness. Dedicating most of the second day of the May 26–29 gathering to business, leaders presented the results of the three-year Reimagine Foursquare process that has been looking at how to best revise Foursquare organization and government. With the broad strokes now approved, the fine details will be worked out in the coming months.
The realignment will continue under the presidency of Glenn Burris Jr., whose invitation to a second term was ratified with a vote that included 731 absentee ballots. Those unable to be at the convention were allowed to cast absentee votes for the first time, following last year’s bylaw change permitting qualified non-attending ballots.
Cheered heartily as he agreed to continue as president through 2020, Glenn said he is “humbled” to keep serving. “Thank you for your trust and confidence,” he told the crowd. “Now it’s time to go to work.”
One of the most significant proposed Reimagine changes is regarding ownership of local church properties, the titles of which are currently all held by the national church. Going forward, local churches could choose to form a limited liability company (LLC) to buy, own or lease their own buildings, while remaining in relationship with the national church.
The move would reduce liability on the national church and also ease relationships between it and some local congregations that have been frustrated by the restrictions of the existing arrangement, said El Clark, Foursquare’s corporate counsel.
The aim is to get to a place where “what is holding us together is our common history, our common doctrine, our common purpose and our common goals,” El explained. “Property should not be the golden handcuffs that hold us together.” Because of different existing loan and legal arrangements, it could be more than a decade in some cases before this transition could occur, it was noted.
Other proposed changes that were presented included:
- reducing the number of districts, while possibly adding Hispanic ones.
- further central office cuts, including possible staff reductions and property sales.
- improved training opportunities for leaders, with ongoing education requirements.
What Comes Next
Having won approval at convention, the Reimagine proposals will next be considered by national leaders at a series of meetings in June, with implementation to follow in stages. Some changes, such as those relating to property, won’t begin to come into effect until next year, as they will require changes in Foursquare bylaws that will have to be approved at Foursquare Connection 2015.
The Reimagine recommendations were presented in relation to what have been dubbed the Five Stakes that national leaders believe need to be driven deep as Foursquare realigns to enlarge its “tent” in the spirit of Isaiah 54:2. The Five Stakes, or guiding principles, are:
- aligning everything Foursquare to the Great Commission (our mission).
- aligning the National Church Office and District Offices to a catalytic culture.
- aligning 100 percent of the tithe to the field (local and district).
- aligning Foursquare Foundation to resourcing and supporting the Foursquare mission.
- aligning polity to provide property options for local churches.
While the LLC move will allow local churches to be more entrepreneurial, Foursquare’s modified episcopal form of government will remain in place, ensuring that the national church can continue to guard the movement’s core values and beliefs.
The Reimagine shifts are the practical steps by which Foursquare will be realigned to better reflect its newly framed goal—introduced by General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo—of becoming “a Great Commission movement, transforming our world through the multiplication of disciples, leaders, churches and more movements.”
Along with this new “collective mission,” Foursquare is going to be changing some of its other language in the days ahead, said Dunahoo. “Church multiplication,” for example, will be preferred to church planting, which doesn’t always reflect missional and ethnic congregations, and other forms of ministry. “We really don’t plant churches,” Tammy explained. “We plant the gospel, we make disciples and we develop leaders, and because of that a church needs to form.”
Celebrating Foursquare Missions
With the Reimagine presentations and question-and-answer time having domestically anchored Foursquare in fulfilling the Great Commission, convention then turned attendees’ sights to the rest of the world in a celebratory missions focus.
Longtime Foursquare Missions International (FMI) Missionary Dick Scott was honored for recently completing a 54-year project, translating the Bible into the language of the Choco Indians in Panama. Together with his longtime Choco collaborator, Ricardo Cabrera—who took over the role from his late father, who was Dick’s first assistant—Dick presented a copy of the new translation to Glenn and FMI Director Jim Scott.
A video report spotlighted the ministry of FMI Missionaries Garry and Brenda Kean in Kenya, before Jim Scott and his wife, Melinda, led attendees in praying for new missionaries being sent out to Belize, El Salvador and Russia.
In her message on empowerment, Marion Ingegneri, executive pastor of Grace North Church (Anthem Foursquare Church) near Phoenix, challenged her fellow pastors to envisage the empty chairs in their churches as places reserved “for the blind and those who can’t see with their hearts and their spiritual eyes.”
Recalling how Jesus prayed a second time for a blind man whose vision was only partially restored at first, Marion said people need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit not just to see, but to see clearly. “If Jesus didn’t give up on someone, who are we to?” she asked.
Some responded by kneeling in prayer after closing speaker Francis Chan, bestselling author and leader of the Multiply Movement, urged leaders to focus more on their personal relationship with Jesus than on church plans or comparing themselves to others. Sadly, he said, too many people are content to “take a picture with Moses” rather than go up the mountain and have their own encounter with God.
“Our problem is not that our churches aren’t cool enough or keeping up with the times,” Francis stated. “Our problem is that we as leaders are getting distracted by so many things that we are not walking up that mountain and coming down with that glow that people can’t understand.”
Other activities of the day included a question-and-answer session with Foursquare’s board of directors; a Mentoring Young Leaders session for leaders ages 18-35; and the Kids + Youth program, especially designed to dovetail with convention themes and encourage the younger crowd as future leaders.
Following the close of the evening session, attendees enjoyed another night of fellowship at the Late Night Connection Center.
Those not in Dallas can watch Connection 2014 sessions online.
And whether you’re in Dallas or at home, you can capture everything Connection has to offer by ordering the Foursquare Connection 2014 Experience Kit at the Connection Store. You can purchase the Experience Kit With Digital Downloads or the Experience Kit With DVDs and CDs Mailed.
- Day 1 – Foursquare Connection 2014 in Dallas Begins
- Day 3 – Multiplying Ministry in a Spirit of Unity
- Day 4 – Final Day of Connection 2014 Emphasizes Sharing Gospel
- Connection 2014 Highlights
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer in the Orlando, Fla., area