More than 3,500 registrants from across the U.S. and around the world, including a record numbers of under-35 leaders, gathered May 28–31, 2012, at the Phoenix Convention Center, for a week of renewal, refreshment and connection with friends old and new under the theme “Speak—Reclaim Our Voice.”
The week was much more than just a chance for leaders to soak in some toasty desert sun in modern downtown Phoenix. It simultaneously brought a new challenge alongside a sense of confirmation for attendees looking to “reclaim their voice,” a strong theme laced throughout keynote presentations.
The week began with sobering declining Foursquare numbers presented by Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of New Hope (Oahu South Foursquare Church) in Honolulu, who told listeners, “Reclaiming our voice is knowing the difference between what must never change and what must change.”
“Renewal isn’t that we change our core values—it’s that we redesign an operating system to deliver afresh what we’ve always believed,” Wayne explained. “We have good orthodoxy; we must have equally good orthopraxy.”
Noting that the penalty for non-renewal is extinction, he encouraged everyone to not be stopped by fear of change, reluctance or procrastination, but instead to see renewal as an adventure.
Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. and his wife, Debbie, likewise challenged leaders with a thought-provoking quotation—”The blueprint for the next 100 years is found in the first 10″—and a reminder that Foursquare “began as a single church with a global mission and has become a global church with a single mission.”
The audience was challenged repeatedly to bring together many voices—not just the voices and faces that look like themselves—under their church roofs. Future-focused speakers looked at reaching out to and mentoring the next generation. An upbeat Serena Wastman, senior pastor of Journey of Faith (Seattle West Alki Foursquare Church), a church with a strong ministry targeting young people in Seattle, said with a huge smile that the next generation is going to look different. We need to “let go but lend our wisdom” to them, she said.
Further, Foursquare looked to specifically invest in the next generation through the well-attended Mentoring Young Leaders sessions hosted by Wayne Cordeiro and Randy Remington, senior pastor of Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Ore. Open exclusively to pastors 18-35, the two sessions poured into young leaders, and included a question-and-answer time with these respected Foursquare leaders.
In addition, Foursquare was challenged to reclaim its voice among diverse people groups within their church communities. Obed Orozco, senior pastor of Grace to the Nations (Tucson Grace Chapel Foursquare Church) in Tucson, Ariz., reminded the convention body: “We will never have a voice with people we don’t understand, or people we don’t love.”
Following the Hispanic pastor’s challenging sermon to break down racial divides within the church walls, Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. tearfully asked Obed to pray that God would break any places of prejudice or barriers in the Foursquare family.
Wednesday saw Conexión Hispana, which was attended by more than 300 Foursquare leaders—nearly 10 percent of those in attendance for Connection 2012. Among the speakers, Daniel Prieto, co-pastor of Hope Boulder (Boulder Flatirons Foursquare Church) in Boulder, Colo., unpacked a challenging vision of integration, unity and growth of the Hispanic movement within The Foursquare Church. Evangelist Luis Palau stressed the need of Hispanics in the U.S. to assume an important role in the evangelizing of the nation.
Encouragement and Learning
The week also brought a time of encouragement and restoration through one-on-one meetings, as well as through exhortation from the main stage. Author Margaret Feinberg took her audience on a condensed version of the journey that she herself had experienced prior to writing Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey (Zondervan). As she shared the biblical insights and spiritual nuggets she’d gleaned via experiences with a vintner, a shepherd and a beekeeper, she encouraged those present to “continue scouting the divine, not just for yourself, but on behalf of the people and churches that you serve.”
The week was a constant bustle outside of the daily morning and evening sessions. The newly revamped Connection Center hosted exhibitors as well as video games and ping-pong for kids (or kids at heart), food vendors and plenty of seating for conversations and meet-ups. Foursquare Financial Solutions hosted a well-attended launch reception at their booth to invite people to learn more about the new division of Foursquare that looks to serve the Foursquare family by providing solutions that integrate faith and finances for enduring kingdom impact.
The Learning and Connection Tracks were also well attended, most notably the track held in the main convention center hall with Barna Group President David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me (Baker Books).
David described three categories into which young adult Christians who experience faith struggles may fall: (1) nomads (those who walk away from the church but consider themselves Christians); (2) prodigals (those who lose their faith entirely); and (3) exiles (those who find themselves stuck between existing culture and the church).
He also noted that the profound social change in recent decades has resulted in a drastic decrease in the number of 30-somethings who have worked through steps of basic independence (i.e., living independently, finishing school, finding a job, marrying and having children), and discussed practical ways in which the church can engage the under-30 generation.
Reclaiming Our Voice
The week ended on Thursday morning with a perfect bookend to Wayne Cordeiro’s initial challenge. Keith Jenkins, missional director for the Greater Los Angeles District and senior pastor of New Life Christian Center (West Adams Foursquare Church) in Los Angeles exhorted leaders to overcome personal doubt in our preaching and not allow fear to influence our delivery of the gospel. He said that God is “on mission,” and told every leader to join Him on that mission. Referencing Acts 18, the scripture theme for Foursquare Connection 2012, Keith said that now is the time for The Foursquare Church to be heard.
“Steward your voices well,” Keith said, and cautioned that we not respond to every cause that calls for our attention. “Teach the Bible and root your people in God’s Word.”
Connection 2013 will be held in Orlando, Fla., May 28–30 at the Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort. Situated lakeside and Southwest-themed, the 350-acre resort will be exclusively made available to the Foursquare family during the event. Hotel guests can stay three days before and three days after at a discounted hotel rate. Pre-registration for Connection 2013 will be available on foursquare.org in September.
Bring Connection 2012 home via this year’s Experience Kit. The $149 kit includes all audio and video sessions, the Stories That Speak DVD, as well as select speaker books and a whole lot more. Learn more about the Connection 2012 Experience Kit.
Read More About Connection 2012
- Day 1: Thousands Gather for Foursquare Connection 2012
- Day 2: Celebrating Young Leaders and Focusing on Evangelism
- Day 3: Youth and International Focus; Hundreds Gather for Conexión Hispana
- Day 4: Connection 2012 Concludes With Commitment to Reclaiming Our Voice in This Generation
- Learn What Happened at the Global Summit
- Order the Connection 2012 Experience Kit
By: Marcia Graham, editor of Foursquare.org and Foursquare Leader magazine