God made at least 4 promises in the Old Testament. He committed:
- A Place (Genesis 12)
- A People (Genesis 12)
- A Presence (Exodus 25)
- A Person (Isaiah 11)
It doesn’t take much research to discover that God keeps His promises! But while God is infinitely faithful, life tends to be very fluid. In fact, sometimes what we believe, what we know and what we experience don’t often line up. Israel’s own history provides a great lesson on the importance of staying mobile, while being highly sensitive to the plans of the Lord. Israel went through many different seasons. For a significant time they followed “the cloud” and “the pillar of fire” while availing themselves of God’s protection and provision. Then Joshua was instructed to have them begin following “the ark” in Joshua 3. He would have concluded that being where the “presence of the Lord was” is the most important thing in life, not following a cloud. He even remarked “you have never been this way before!” Israel would also experience the transition from receiving manna every day (imagine opening your front door for breakfast) to living off the fruit of the land!
That pretty much describes the journey we’ve been on the last five years, as we have continued on a spiritually discerned course set by our movement’s leadership. Each season the Lord has used men and women to help voice the “way of the Lord” for The Foursquare Church. The board of directors confirmed a new direction in June, 2001. Since then, remarkable changes have occurred within our structures. We have gone from nine historic districts to 76 districts, and three regional administrative centers. While it created a whirlwind, we are beginning to see through some of the dust that’s settling.
Major change usually involves four things: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing! Having pulled some leaders together recently to evaluate where we’re at on the continuum, it seemed fairly obvious that we are moving from storming to norming. In fact most major change within a structure like ours takes about five years to work through.
In March of 2002, Debbie and I arrived in Los Angeles and quickly acclimated to the cool nights and low humidity (though I still miss those Southern grits and hush puppies).
Sunshine rules most everyday and navigating traffic is a part of the price for enjoying this wonderful paradise.
Little did I realize that we would be sharing a responsibility that would require re-evaluating everything that had been established that served the previous structure of the national church. Leadership had made some reasonable assumptions as we worked our way to a more organic approach to serving the needs of the field beginning with the premise that we would put into the hands of resourceful leaders, more resource and authority. We have learned some valuable lessons, while continuing to monitor the current realities of ministry within the context of The Foursquare Church in the United States.
This article is intended to share with you some (certainly not all) of the observations we’ve made during this season, while updating you on some current realities and thoughts about the future. Just last week, we met with nearly 500 of our current district and divisional leaders. The board of directors, as well as the Cabinet was invited. These entities make up our Executive Council, which annually preview and approve the convention business, typically the morning of the beginning of our national convention. We had a chance to unpack some of our observations, while spending time to pray, worship and counsel our way together towards the Lord’s heart for our Foursquare family!
Our primary conclusion has been that the “National Church exists to serve ministers and the local church in their missional assignment of transforming people, communities and nations!”
We will primarily do that through the 5 M’s. Here they are:
- Ministering (giving spiritual oversight and care)
- Mentoring (training and Resourcing for increased capacity)
- Mobilizing (sponsoring, networking, and releasing leaders/ministers to their God assigned areas of ministry)
- Multiplying (reproducing churches and leaders to reach the harvest)
- Managing (stewarding resources for maximum effectiveness)
Here are a few observations;
i. The multiplication of districts, while paving the way for greater enfranchisement and empowerment of more leaders invoked a very different way of doing church in the U.S. Some immediately began moving towards the future, while some other areas took a more deliberate approach. Eventually all of the historic districts created plans that would position them for the new realities. This change also allowed us to serve a variety of approaches including language, culture and metro based districts that could more uniquely serve its constituents.
ii. The structural changes resulted in very effective regional administrative centers in three regions of the country. These centers have become primary coaching and resource centers for our ministers and churches regarding credentials, property, new church paperwork, accounting help for our church camps, event registrations, etc. Their pastoral, servant-hearted approach has been a strong plus for our churches.
iii. While the administrative efforts were being ramped up, the ministry delivery systems that had been dismantled at the historic district level left a void. We’ve had to revamp national and district strategies. At the national level, it became apparent that a new paradigm was needed. We made the decision to go to field-based practitioners, rather than department-based theoreticians.
iv. The National Youth Department, Christian Education (J-12), Foursquare Women, Forerunners, Church Health, Church Multiplication, Chaplains and Institutes have taken aggressive approaches within the last two years to serve the new realities. Primarily, the focus has been to target the training, communicating with and resourcing of district, division and local church leaders.
v. While most of our new supervisors would have already been investing in the training and networking of leaders, this new ministry initiative added a more direct responsibility of oversight. Some administrative tasks as well as responsibility for area strategies involving church multiplication and leadership development were also new to their portfolios. Their ultimate responsibility to mentor superintendents has forged a commitment that has seen remarkable results in many areas. Districts are moving forward as a true team. It has to function more like a ministry group than a management one.
vi. We continually monitor and make adjustments in the amount of responsibility that supervisors can oversee. This is a major commitment of our office! We are committed to getting this ratio right!
- We established the role of regional supervisors (same geographical areas as the administrative centers) that would help care for, coach, help with interventions and provide a covering to our supervisors. They are engaged on a consistent basis of communication with and accessibility to our supervisors. In district transitions, they have been invaluable both with the districts and often with the churches of the district supervisors.
- We have provided significant training, coaching, resources and help (Archibald Hart, Pete Scazzero) as an ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of our supervisors and superintendents.
- We continue to help define roles and relationships within our national structures. The formal establishing of district councils has given supervisors an infrastructure of support and help from the superintendents. Our by-law changes have reflected that increased partnership.
vii. The board of directors also saw the need to help our camp facilities better prepare for the new realities. Their generosity helped our camps get to a zero based debt load, while forming a national initiative to establish, train and counsel new camp boards. This would provide for a plan into the future, so that these valuable assets could remain primary places for retreats, summer and winter camps for youth and children, conference options for districts and churches.
viii. There is a need for strong evaluation and assessment. So we’re creating a well-defined overview of the health of our districts/regions/nation. This will allow us to know where it is working well and where it is not. We continue to see churches grow all over the country, new churches are being planted and a significant number of newly credentialed ministers are taking key assignments. We also are discovering that a significant number of small churches and churches planted with a small nucleus of support have contributed to a higher than hoped for church closure rate. Significant research is being done to pinpoint every area of concern. Let us share with you some important thoughts about serving you during this season, while discerning the highest leverage points.
Giving spiritual oversight and care:
- With the board’s approval and support, the 83 acres campus in Christiansburg, Virginia is being readied for the launch of the Life Center for Spiritual Renewal!
- This important initiative will serve to help provide a training and care center for ministers and their immediate families.
- It will provide support for sabbatical and study breaks.
- It will provide a support system for interventions and counseling.
- The larger plan involves refuge centers and networks of places and people around the country that can offer help and hope to leaders!
- District Advisory Councils are designed to model a primary modeling role between supervisors and superintendents will multiply through the relationship between superintendents and the churches they serve. Continued clarity about the role of superintendent in our new reality is being pursued.
Training and resourced for increased capacity:
- With the establishment of an Educational Committee, the Center for Global Leadership and Training is on the brink of formally beginning.
- It will combine the enormous resources of our formal and informal training opportunities and find ways to help in the discipleship and training of our leaders.
- It will provide in-service and pre-service options for us.
- Multiple delivery systems and partnerships will be established and nurtured.
- Foursquare Live began with our “Live Event” broadcast from Life Pacific in San Dimas and New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. Over 10,000 leaders gathered to experience a breakthrough in training options for us. It opens the door for “prayer summits, youth leader training, etc.” The board of directors decided to expand the satellite feed to over 400 sites (primarily our supervisors and superintendent locations). This partnership with CCN will provide an unlimited flow of leadership training venues. March 10, 2007 will be our next “Live Event” in these new locations!
Sponsoring, networking and releasing leaders to their God assigned areas of ministry:
- The Foursquare Association is being established as a way to provide connections with many leaders and churches that have an interest in partnership with the Foursquare Movement.
- It moves us towards a basic DNA component and commitment to an interdenominational world-wide evangelism movement.
- It allows churches seeking possible affiliation to explore that potential, while retaining their unique ministry assignments.
- Emerging Leaders is an initiative that will serve churches, which are committed to releasing a generation of young people, called to minister! This will involve internship and discipleship training.
Reproducing churches and leaders for the harvest:
- The Foursquare Foundation was created to help resource breakthrough strategies for reaching the harvest and multiplying leaders. It has the potential to invest over $10 million annually directly to entrepreneurial leadership and vision.
- The house church movement is being aggressively studied and analyzed concerning its present place in the body of Christ. Many effective models are already in place.
Stewarding resources for maximum effectiveness:
- The 360 Degree Overview being created will give us a clearer picture of the health of our districts and regions. Intentional efforts are being made to help us identify where the multiplication of districts has been effective and why; and where the multiplication of districts has not been effective and why not.
- Regional Leadership is covering a much needed role in helping provide help to our churches and districts through the ARC offices and our regional supervisors.
It’s important for us to focus on a few select ideas, do them well, integrate them into the life of our church, resource them adequately and measure their effectiveness. What does it mean for you? Hopefully a more consistent approach to caring for, serving and resourcing our leaders and churches. It obviously takes commitment, Holy Spirit empowerment and a community of leaders moving together with a solid conviction to reach the harvest!
Joshua spoke strongly to the people of Israel as he Prophesised: “Consecrate yourselves today, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you!” That’s our hope, that’s what we’re contending for! Thank you for your support and help!