One of the privileges of this office is the opportunity to communicate regarding important issues. Foursquare Missions International (FMI) is the extension of every one of us—it serves where we can’t; it connects and supports critical voices and national movements; and it covers and conveys care to the nearly 100 missionaries around the world that represent us while it partners with the local U.S. church to strategize the spread of the gospel in as many places as possible and where the Holy Spirit is calling us. The Foursquare Church has a work in approximately 140 countries. My dream is to see the Foursquare flag planted in every one of the 195 countries that have been formally recognized as nations. I believe that it is possible in our lifetime.
For decades, Foursquare Missions International was the engine that drove mission and ministry within The Foursquare Church. In fact, the missions income given through our churches actually supported the U.S. National Church for decades. The conviction held that this investment would spur growth in this country while fueling a fire for international partnerships. It worked! From less than 3,500 churches and meeting places in 32 countries in 1975, The Foursquare Church has grown to more than 65,000 churches in approximately 140 countries. Following a clear four-stage strategy to Initiate, Nurture, Expand and Send, we found ourselves at the forefront of an indigenous strategy to take the gospel to the world.
FMI is currently experiencing seismic shifts in our thinking and strategy. Opportunity has never been greater but it is not without challenges. Local churches have become more directly involved in missions work, both by going and by giving. Doors to ministry have opened around the world and within our country. The United States is now the fourth largest mission field in the world. However, in the midst of such opportunity, the world is facing a financial crisis of historic proportions; churches are facing tremendous financial needs.
In addition, some confusion arose in the past over public statements as we were encouraging churches to support missionaries directly. We were celebrating and encouraging direct involvement of churches, but we failed to clearly communicate regarding the enormous responsibility that we collectively share in the support of our missionaries and national works. We believe so much in our field partnerships that we have committed to underwrite (out of the tithe dollar) the administrative costs of FMI in Los Angeles so that 100% of what our churches give to the general fund reaches the field directly.
Our collective commitment allows key objectives to take place, such as the training and deployment of our missionaries, covering and supporting them with appropriate field oversight and resources while responding to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. For instance, we have an opportunity to officially regain our status in Cuba. That door has been closed for decades but is now open. We don’t know how long the door will stay open but the seed that has been planted is now ready to be harvested and we need your partnership.
Over the next short while, you’ll be receiving some amazing updates from around the world (including the U.S.). You’ll also hear the emerging vision and strategy shared by our new director, Jim Scott. He’ll be reminding us that the world is landing at our doorstep in record numbers. The intentional partnership of NCO and FMI in the coming days will strengthen our ability to respond to the mission that is no longer just about crossing the oceans, jungles and deserts, but about crossing the streets of our cities.
We should not settle for the status quo. The Foursquare Church has always distinguished itself in world missions. We have been studied by many organizations around the world for our effectiveness relative to the size of our U.S. Church. Only by the grace of the Lord could we have experienced such fruitful ministry. Last year alone, over 6,500 new churches sprung up around the world.
The new realities of maturing partnerships around the world allow us to dream about extending kingdom borders at an accelerated pace. I’m reminded of what Jesus said in John 9:4: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no man can work.” There is a divine convergence of opportunity and passion. We have an unprecedented set of scenarios before us. The resources and ingenuity of the local church joined with the missions expertise and global framework of our extended family make for a strong alliance to thrust laborers into the field and reap a huge harvest.
I’m asking directly if you would consider doing four things:
- Would you engage in a season of prayer support for our missionaries and their families, national leaders, FMI staff and the open doors before us?
- Would you contend with us for a divine strategy that will pull down the strongholds of the kingdom of darkness while releasing the unlimited potential of the church?
- Would you prayerfully consider a monthly partnership to the general giving of FMI to help us accelerate the opportunities before us and to provide a strong network of care and support for our missionaries and national works?
- Would you take a special offering (above anything you normally do) between now and Christmas to help us accelerate the opportunities before us? We are believing for 1,800 churches and/or individuals to give $1,000 each. Debbie and I are investing the first $1,000 gift. Give what you can (some may give more), but set a goal, and together let us allow faith to arise in the camp! I’m calling this offering “Operation Accelerate” (John 9:4).
Let me give you just three of the immediate doors of opportunity:
We have a window of time to officially open The Foursquare Church in Cuba. There are people there on the ground that have built an unofficial network of churches, but we need to make it official. It will require some financial investment.
We have a dozen or more countries on the verge of opening for the first time. Many are in the Pacific Rim. Resources are needed as startup capital to leverage the opportunities that have presented themselves. People are asking us to come. Only the Lord could have arranged these connections and opportunities. Remember, there are 54 countries where we are targeting to plant an indigenous work. Imagine being able to celebrate a Foursquare flag in every nation!
The development of regional strategies in partnership with our global family to evangelize nations, train local leaders, plant healthy reproducing churches in strategic cities and help coach/mentor national works to reach beyond their nations and invest in people groups around the world that they can reach so much more effectively than we can.
During our watch, I want to be able to say with you that we were good stewards of our resources, that we were sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in hearing the global call to missions and that we joined together to enhance our response to a world in desperate need of the good news of Jesus Christ! Our theme for 2011 for the U.S. Foursquare Church is “Accelerate: The Whole Gospel to the Whole World!” One billion people will be added to the world’s population over the next decade. Most of them will be in cities. From 8 percent in 1900 to now 50 percent of the world’s population live in cities. Help us reach them!
You can also view a short video segment that Jim Scott and I taped as a message to you for this new season. Please pray for Jim (and wife Melinda), as he assumed this new role on November 1.
These are resources that you can use to share with your congregations concerning this unparalleled season among us. Thank you for taking time to read this letter and for your partnership in reaching the world for Jesus!
By: Glenn Burris, Jr., president of The Foursquare Church