This winter, The Foursquare Church is asking: How would you Reimagine Foursquare? This question comes after months of Town Hall meetings, in which President Glenn Burris Jr. and General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo traveled to all 14 districts in the United States to share, discuss, and hear the voices of leaders nationwide.
With this Reimagine conversation in mind, we asked eight local-level leaders to share their thoughts about the process and their hopes for Foursquare’s future. Here are their answers.
Angelus Bible Institute
With 1 in 4 Foursquare churches now ethnic, the majority Hispanic, and that number set to grow in the years ahead, it is crucial that Reimagine not only acknowledges, but also accommodates, the trend, says Mario Barahona, who also serves as executive pastor of Angelus Temple Hispanic Foursquare Church in Los Angeles. He believes the process could help bring about an awakening in and through Foursquare, just as Nehemiah did in repairing Jerusalem’s walls and renewing the hearts of the people. Mario notes that without personal reformation alongside any organizational changes, “it’s like having a building and just changing the plumbing … unless there is a new season, nothing will really happen.”
West Salem Foursquare Church
Willow Creek Community Church founder Bill Hybels was onto something when he said, “There is nothing quite like the local church when the local church is working right,” John believes. While it is not perfect, “it is the agency that God has chosen to work in and through.” John sees the potential for “renewed clarity and conviction” through Reimagine. “I’m excited about our family clarifying its mission and discovering again who we are and what we are doing here,” he says. “This gets me amped!”
Restoration (Huntsville Foursquare Church)
While much of the emphasis of Reimagine is on ways of reducing the footprint of Foursquare’s central office, Huey believes that whatever results must involve some change at the local church level, too. “Pastors and churches have not always been good stewards, not been accountable to steward those things they were given,” he observes. Alongside this, he sees improved training and equipping of local leaders as paramount. From experience leading a multiethnic church, Huey says Foursquare’s future depends on truly embracing and making space for people from other cultures, and “being willing to put up with the frustration, the growing problems that will come about.”
Grace Covenant (Cornelius Foursquare Church)
These are “thrilling times to be a part of Foursquare,” says Farrell, “because we are aligning ourselves back to mission, and the future of the movement will be both great and fruitful for God’s glory.” He is philosophical about the need to take a hard look at how Foursquare functions: “The reality is that any organization, denomination, or local church can create structure that seems valuable, but over time that restricts mission.” Refocusing on the local church is essential because “that is where life-transforming ministry and discipleship occurs”—like Jesus, Farrell says, the church is called to go where the people are, to share His truth and power.
Faith Center (Eureka Foursquare Church)
It is important to remember that, while the Reimagine conversation is expansive, it’s not all-inclusive, says Heidi. “We are not questioning our theology, our purpose, or our responsibility,” she asserts. “We are questioning if the way we have been doing these things could be done more successfully.” Answering that affords “a great opportunity for us as a denomination to move forward in greater effectiveness at growing a church transformed by the power and person of Jesus Christ,” she explains. “To that end, I am very excited, because this is what and who we are called to become.”
Living Word Fellowship (Oak Harbor II Foursquare Church)
Oak Harbor, Wash.
Denominational leaders’ willingness to give people room to ask hard questions and have awkward conversations could make this a “watershed moment for our movement,” says Russell. He commends the “tremendous” time and effort put into the Town Hall meetings to try to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard. “I appreciate that style of leadership, putting things on the table,” he says. Rather than a “one size fits all” way ahead, Russell anticipates some multi-tiered solutions to issues such as property ownership that will result from “seeing the local church as the tip of the spear, the impact players who are really getting the job done.”
Grace Capital (Pembroke Foursquare Church)
If the Reimagine issues seem a bit remote to some, they are an everyday reality for those, like Mark, who are part of multisite churches. Since 2010, Mark has pastored the first of two satellite congregations established by Grace Capital, where he was part of the leadership team for more than a decade. It’s all about minimizing the challenges that can come with structure while maximizing the strength and support that it offers. That requires “some difficult conversations,” he acknowledges, remaining “super excited” about being part of Foursquare as it has discussions to better position itself for the future. “It all comes down to alignment,” he says.
Lead Campus Pastor
River Christian Fellowship (Kansas City East Foursquare Church)
If Reimagine ends with just the streamlining of Foursquare’s central offices, as helpful as that may be, “we are missing it, and have the cart and horse in the wrong order,” cautions John. “My hope is that through this the local church will be strengthened to be more agile, to be able to respond quickly to the needs of the community around.” Recognizing Foursquare is “a 2013 church trying to function in a 1930s structural world” isn’t about throwing stones, he says. “Anything healthy changes over time. The gospel remains the same, but it’s the right time to address how we structure ourselves for the future.”
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer in the Orlando, Fla., area