I’m writing this from Johannesburg, just ahead of the first-ever Foursquare African National Leader gathering. Our objective is to dream together about the spiritual future of this great continent and to contend for more laborers to reach an unprecedented harvest.
Some missiologists believe that Africa will be the location of the most prolific expansion of the gospel in the next 40 years. To that end, we want to synergize efforts to strengthen every nation through training, missional efforts and supporting infrastructures.
We just finished a strong cabinet meeting in Glendale, Calif., with just over 100 leaders from around the U.S. These leaders gather annually and help shape the agenda for the business sessions at conventions and to make recommendations regarding national church ministries and global endeavors. They also play a role in the presidential selection process and ratification. It’s an Acts 15, Jerusalem Council kind of feel, allowing us to remove obstacles to the global spread of the gospel and to identify kingdom opportunities.
At cabinet this year, we gave important updates on the Five Stakes of Reimagine Foursquare (Isa. 54:2), which we will also present at Foursquare Connection 2015. We will also give a more detailed summary of our progress in each area as we get closer to our annual family gathering in Anaheim, Calif., May 25–28, 2015.
The following is a brief update on the Five Stakes:
Stake 1: Aligning everything to the Great Commission
Stan Simmons presented clear objectives to measure how we are doing in our efforts. He presented an outline of strategic targets that begin to bring clarity and focus to all of our missional efforts. His detailed presentation will be included in our soon-to-be available cabinet update at foursquare.org/business, and it will also be presented at Connection in Anaheim.
Stake 2: Aligning our national and district offices to a catalytic culture
Tammy Dunahoo presented a detailed overview of the national church, including significant missional advances. Some of our numerical statistics show a decline; however, a renewed focus on church multiplication is projected to produce 124 churches and missional communities of faith to be started in the next 12 months. There is also significant progress on NextGen ministries, leadership development and church transformation. The NCO’s “One team, 12 districts” approach will garner the strengths of our supervisors and create a learning community to share best practices. Much more will be shared in Tammy’s Connection report.
Stake 3: Aligning 100 percent of our tithe to local church and district mission
The board of directors took a step of faith in allocating 20 percent of the tithe in 2015 to return to churches that participate in the covenant of tithe. That is about a $1.2 million increase since my last communiqué with you. We are making great progress toward the long-term goal. It will require generating new income streams and maximizing our investment returns. We will be able to give an update on those efforts in Anaheim.
Stake 4: Aligning the Foursquare Foundation to our mission
We continue to make great strides in aligning this resource to support our missional efforts nationally and globally. A detailed report will be given at Connection. There has been tremendous buy-in at a global level of laboring together for sustainable results in evangelism, church multiplication and leadership development. Our efforts to support the Risser Endowment, FMI, NCO leadership development and U.S. church multiplication remain strong. We believe the Foursquare Foundation can become an even more powerful resource tool to expand the gospel. Significant strategic and investment conversations are underway.
Stake 5: Aligning our polity for property options for our churches
This is perhaps the most complicated area, and we are thoroughly vetting every issue and concern to provide local churches with multiple options regarding things such as property purchases and lease agreements. This is a little like remodeling an existing house while living in it. Great legal expertise, spiritual discernment, and family culture and dynamics are all a part of this process. Many advances have been made, and we look forward to unpacking these with you in Anaheim.
During the cabinet meetings, we also discussed several important topics that our movement is facing:
- We began talking about our presidential selection process. The board will initiate a task force to review our processes and make recommendations to the cabinet. While most agreed that the processes have been transparent and conducted with integrity, we want to review all our processes at critical junctures to ensure our best efforts.
- We had some continuing discussions about the national topic of same-sex marriage and surrounding gender issues. We are not moving away from our clear, biblical stance, but we must help pastors and churches address the legal, spiritual and relational issues appropriately. The church must be fully engaged and Holy Spirit-led. We want to be a compassionate community while maintaining important boundaries.
- We addressed the importance of our heritage as sons and daughters of Azusa Street, and embracing our Pentecostal distinctives. We recognize that the church is experiencing a significant lack of teaching and training on this critical subject, and we discussed our polity course and the need for more mentoring and clarity. We embrace of all the gifts of the Spirit, still maintaining the importance of the gift of tongues. We also realize that sometimes our approach has been seemingly shallow to reduce the significant impact of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit to one gift, while we need to celebrate all of them. It was a great discussion of how we can move forward with being a more potent spiritual force, celebrating and embracing the fullness of the Spirit, while making room for those on their journey as they contend for every evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues. The board deliberated the cabinet recommendation and confirmed that we would require that senior pastors would be baptized with the Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, but we would make room for assisting ministers and staff pastors who believe in tongues as an evidence and would personally contend for it. The Doctrine Committee has made several important recommendations that we think will significantly affect our being a more effective Spirit-filled movement. No one disputes the need for Holy Spirit empowerment in these days.
As you can see, our Connection in Anaheim will continue to be a significant stepping-stone on this journey to Reimagine Foursquare. We are tackling issues head on, with godly discernment and an eye on the future. God has ordained this movement for “such a time as this.” See you in Anaheim!