Leaders representing The Foursquare Church worldwide met in Phoenix, June 1–3, 2012, for the first Foursquare Global Summit in nearly 25 years, immediately following Connection 2012. The 225 national leaders and invited guests gathered to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit regarding the global influence of The Foursquare movement.
Participants included national leaders from 65 countries, with five distinct language translations occurring simultaneously during the summit to ensure that everyone had an equal voice in the discussion.
The fourfold goal of the historic gathering was: (1) to establish a global “eldering” community; (2) to build, together, a global strategy; (3) to refine and strengthen Foursquare’s global infrastructure; and (4) to help resource every nation to evangelize, disciple, multiply and send leaders.
Leslie Keegel, national leader of 1,800 Foursquare churches in Sri Lanka, spoke of Jeremiah’s prophecy about the fullness of time and God’s desire to pour out His Spirit on all people of the world. Steve Schell, senior pastor of Northwest Church (Federal Way Foursquare Church) in Federal Way, Wash., concurred, and exhorted the group to raise their expectations to see Jeremiah’s prophecy fulfilled.
Summit facilitator Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, celebrated the 64,000 churches and nearly 10 million people who are part of the global Foursquare family.
Our Preferred Future
As the summit began, Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. emphasized the importance of identifying “our preferred and prophetic future.” Former Foursquare President Paul Risser and former Foursquare Missions International (FMI) Director Don McGregor offered context to the discussion about the movement’s history of worldwide evangelism.
Panel presentations, question-and-answer sessions, small group discussions and group-wide interaction focused on the need for distinct, reproducible, global values. Paramount among these values is the predominant commitment to the doctrines of the Word of God as enumerated in the Foursquare Declaration of Faith.
Church planting and nation planting were both widely acknowledged as core values of the global Foursquare family. Markus Wakkary, national leader of Foursquare Indonesia, thrilled the summit delegates with a report indicating that 9,968 leaders and 1.2 million members there have planted 4,000 new churches in the past five years. The Indonesian Foursquare Church is rapidly becoming a leader in church planting, and provides training and support to ministers from outside the country who would like to learn from their success.
Missionaries and ministers crossing national lines were also celebrated. For example, a Sri Lankan pastor was sent to pastor a church in Texas, and another Sri Lankan minister currently leads the Foursquare national church of Great Britain. This kind of cross-national church planting and multilingual leadership was identified as an important value of our preferred and prophetic future.
Additionally, global values were affirmed about the preparation and release of men and women of all generations and cultures to effective ministry leadership. Spiritual eldering of leaders, churches and nations was also identified as an important value.
One highlight of the summit was Saturday morning’s keynote address by Philip Jenkins, Ph.D., a respected researcher and author of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford University Press).
Jenkins—who serves as Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of the Humanities in history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University and as Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University—noted that the doctrine of healing has been instrumental to the success of global Christianity for the past 100 years.
It became clear, as Jenkins spoke, that the Foursquare doctrine of healing is an important distinctive in developing Foursquare’s global strategy. Leaders of various nations who were present affirmed the message and provided further input.
Challenges and Opportunities
Current realities discussed included global challenges with spiritual, political, and personal implications for our ministries and ministers.
National leaders from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka shared about Foursquare leaders who have been persecuted, kidnapped, ostracized and condemned to death for preaching Christ in their countries. Each one confirmed that, in spite of persecution, The Foursquare Church is growing in their countries and that people are coming to Christ in record numbers.
Ihsan Ozbek, national leader of Foursquare Turkey, described the hatred of some extremist religious groups toward Christianity due to generations of frustration and disillusionment with their own belief systems. These are not always wild-eyed radicals, he said; they are people who have been hurt by their life experiences and desperately need the love of Christ. “They need healthy relationships with people who truly know God’s love and live in the power of the Holy Spirit,” Ihsan said.
John Amstutz, Foursquare pastor, missionary and author of Disciples of All Nations, said that first-century church leaders in the book of Acts discovered four fully reproducible principles for developing healthy churches: (1) make disciples; (2) train pastors and leaders; (3) plant churches; and (4) send missionaries. The leaders present affirmed these principles as the infrastructure for Foursquare national church development worldwide.
Cross-national leadership training, global credentialing, fully empowered regional councils, administration, and delivery systems of global communication were discussed as desired outcomes of our preferred future. Ultimately, the development of Foursquare ministry in nations that are in stage-four of Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model will result in the sending and receiving of missionaries between countries to evangelize the world with culturally relevant effectiveness.
Healthy discussion and debate was encouraged throughout the event, and participants collectively sought the Holy Spirit’s direction. They agreed that another Global Summit should convene again within the next 3 to 5 years in order to move forward with recommendations that were made during this summit.
In the meantime, the Foursquare Global Council will consider all of the discussion and recommendations that were made during this summit, and begin developing initiatives in partnership with national leaders and regional councils.
The Global Summit concluded with extended worship, personal and corporate prayer, and prophetic messages confirming the direction and word of the Lord. Laced throughout the prophetic words was a common theme that every Foursquare leader should assume a posture of desperation for the presence of God.
In closing, former FMI Director Don McGregor led everyone gathered in observing communion.
By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles