“According to God’s gifting and calling, we will intentionally prepare and release men and women across generations and cultures into all positions of leadership and areas of ministry.” —Foursquare’s Global Distinctives
Immigrant, new resident of a global city, and single mom. This is a profile that describes countless women all over the world today. Not many expect these women to be spiritual leaders or world changers, yet this is the exact profile of Foursquare’s founder, Aimee Semple McPherson. She arrived at the bustling city of Los Angeles in the 1920s as a new mom, a widow and a Canadian. Through her, God did an unexpected work that impacted both her city and the world.
In 1923, the doors of Angelus Temple opened to welcome the city of Los Angeles to hear the Good News of Jesus. Although thousands of people came to hear the preaching of the Word, Sister Aimee quickly recognized that to reach the city and the nations, the gospel must be accessible in more places, languages and cultural contexts. Understanding the greatness of the need, she declared: “And my task, as I see it, is to interest you folks to help me, to help them, to join the line right around the whole world.” (Listen to her sermon “This Is My Task.”)
Today, the Foursquare family still shares a deep commitment to empowering diverse leaders and releasing them into their God-given callings. One hundred years after our founding, we celebrate that we are now a global church of disciples who have joined hands to take the gospel to those who have not yet heard.
From our founding, the mission was never to be about the work of a few great men and women. Because everyone was needed for this great task, Sister Aimee began to train and to send. Amazingly, 14 of the first 16 graduates from her Bible Institute (now Life Pacific University) were women. These new leaders started churches and preached the Good News locally, but they also almost immediately lifted their eyes to the global task.
On Feb. 27, 1924, Carl Linden and Albert Kleinschmidt were deployed to India as the first missionaries of this new movement, with many more following right behind them. One of these early missionaries was Vincente DeFante, who was sent from Angelus Temple to pioneer Foursquare in the Philippines. The movement in the Philippines began with just one empowered leader, yet today there are over 2,000 Foursquare churches across the Philippines, reaching not only their own nation, but also sending missionaries all around the world. This is the multiplying power of empowered leaders. From a small beginning as one church and one Bible Institute, The Foursquare Church has grown to a global movement with expressions in 156 nations.
Our Foursquare story is a story of the most unlikely people being empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel, establish churches, cross cultures and pioneer movements across the globe. It is also a story of men and women of all ages, cultures, nations and ethnicities being intentionally prepared and sent out to fulfill the call of God on their lives. From our earliest days, our movement has been marked by a deep belief that the promise of God to “pour out My Spirit upon all people” (Acts 2:17, NIV) is not just a lofty theological tenet, but rather an infinitely livable reality.
Today, the Foursquare family still shares a deep commitment to empowering diverse leaders and releasing them into their God-given callings. One hundred years after our founding, we celebrate that we are now a global church of disciples who have joined hands to take the gospel to those who have not yet heard. Our first missionaries were sent to India, but today we are privileged to receive ministers from India into the United States. Sheeba and Samuel Bynipudi, immigrants from India, are currently planting a church in North Carolina where they are reaching people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. They are living out the words Sister Aimee preached years ago in her famous sermon “This Is My Task”: “By God’s grace, if we can see our task and join hands and get together, we can spread the gospel around the world.”
Recently, I was with Foursquare leaders from several different nations. As I listened for what God was doing in each context, I heard about the gospel being shared and lived out at prestigious universities, in global cities, through teenage Bible club leaders and in many languages. These stories embody great diversity, and are bound together by a shared mission and a commitment to empowering leaders. From thought leaders with Ph.D.s to teenage girls in developing nations, Foursquare leaders are still being trained, released and empowered to be on mission together. This is still our task. This is Foursquare.
The Global Distinctives, agreed on by nearly 240 leaders at the 2012 Global Summit, are six unifying principles that bind our whole Foursquare family in doctrine and culture.
Read more stories on how people live out our Foursquare Global Distinctives.