Day three of Foursquare Connection 2014 in Dallas was a busy one, with a lot of opportunities for learning and connecting with others packed in. The evening session was no exception, with depth of teaching while also offering time for the Holy Spirit to move.
The session included a tender word of caution from one of the movement’s most widely respected elder statesmen, Pastor Jack Hayford, founder of The Church On The Way (Van Nuys Foursquare Church) in Van Nuys, Calif. Attendees offered hushed prayers in small circles at the close of an appeal by Pastor Jack for Foursquare leaders to seek a fresh “baptism of love” that would free them from any judgmental or critical attitudes they might harbor toward others, and protect the movement’s unity.
With a bright future to look forward to, as the Reimagine changes intended to align Foursquare for greater fruitfulness come into effect, it is important that leaders maintain “a loving, forgiving, accepting, gracious, family stance” toward one another, Pastor Jack encouraged the crowd.
Speaking from the John 13 account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, Pastor Jack noted that his message urging the pursuit of a servant’s heart was “an exhortation, not a reprimand,” offered “because of the deep delight I have in the things that are happening in our movement right now.” But it is a human tendency to form set opinions about others, and “nobody deserves to be put in a slot,” he said.
As Pastor Jack closed in prayer, Ordained Foursquare Minister Kathy Shaw joined him on the platform and sang a prophetic song. It included Jesus’ words from the passage in John 13, telling His disciples that the world would know they were His followers because of their love for one another.
Pastor Jack’s message capped a full day during which attendees, with a clear sense of direction for Foursquare’s future having been firmly established, turned to more immediate concerns as they focused on ways to maximize everyday ministry.
Having embraced the realignment changes proposed in the Reimagine process on Tuesday, pastors and leaders were given plenty of ministry tools and food for thought as presentations and reports explored the event’s “Multiply” theme. From keynote messages to breakout sessions, speakers addressed the whys and hows of multiplying discipleship, churches and spiritual impact.
Preceding Pastor Jack in the evening session, Daniel Brown, director of teaching ministry Commended to the Word and founding pastor of The Coastlands (Aptos Foursquare Church) in Aptos, Calif., touched on the message that was to follow when he announced that “you don’t multiply in the kingdom unless you add, subtract and divide first.”
That means adding love by welcoming and honoring people, taking away attitudes like “brattiness,” self-importance, and fear that can limit someone’s ministry, and doing both those things by dividing the Word of God for them, he explained.
In his morning keynote address, Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of multisite Community Christian Church in Chicago, offered three essentials for multiplying churches: recruit apprentices, release new leaders when they are ready rather than according to a formula, and “ordain” all members for ministry in their spheres of influence.
“Movement is important, because without movement, you don’t accomplish the mission,” he said, noting that new churches reach three or four times more people than those that have been in existence for 10 years or more, and grow two to three times faster.
Missiologist Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, outlined the four commissions Jesus gave to His followers that are crucial for effective church multiplication. Sacrifice and inconvenience in following God’s direction are unpopular but unavoidable, he said, and “we need to worry more about mission than mortgages.”
Learning and Inspiration
Lively interviews, QuickTalk presentations and inspiring video reports helped pack a lot of helpful and inspirational content into Wednesday. Two such videos were a profile of Life Center (Spokane Foursquare Church) in Spokane, Wash., pastored by Joe Wittwer, and their emphasis on mentoring young leaders; and a report on Tammy Toft’s Butterfly Project outreach to sex workers in Tallinn, Estonia, where she and her husband, Brett, are Foursquare Missions International (FMI) missionaries.
“We speak different languages, but the language of the heart is the same,” said Fernando Castillo Sr., pastor of one of the Hispanic congregations at The Rock (Anaheim Foursquare Church) in Anaheim, Calif., during a discussion about multicultural ministry and the way the church supported Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking congregations.
“We need churches within churches that can reach out to the community,” said The Rock’s senior pastor, Jerry Dirmann. His church provides support services to the other congregations “so they don’t have to do all that; they can do the ministry.” Though there are challenges, he said, “we stay in unity, the love of God transcends all that, and Jesus makes it work.”
In a lively evening interview, David Moore Jr., senior pastor of Church for the Nations (Oxnard 2 Foursquare Church) in Oxnard, Calif., told how his congregation is involved in issues such as campaigning for better conditions in local jails because justice matters to God. Many churches are better at “turning people into worshipers than we are at turning them into activists in terms of living the message of Jesus in this world,” he said.
Multiply Tracks—practical sessions where leaders could learn the nuts and bolts of how to multiply ministry in a smaller setting—were repeated twice, featuring more informal presentations and including time for questions and answers. Presenters included Pastor Jack, who discussed multiplying Spirit life, and Francis Chan, who talked about multiplying disciples.
How-To Workshops on Foursquare opportunities and services were also repeated, to give people a chance to learn as much as possible in the day. Topics included higher education, retirement and estate planning, capital programs, and how to serve with or support Foursquare Missions International.
Although the focus of the day was forward-looking, there was also time for honoring the past. Forty-four men and women with 50 and 60 years’ Foursquare service were recognized in the morning session, and later celebrated at a special ForeRunners reception.
Mason and Virgene Hughes, pioneer Foursquare missionaries to Papua New Guinea, and members of the multigenerational Greer family, who followed them in ministry there, were called to the platform in the evening session and honored after a video report recounting the remarkable Foursquare growth in the country during the past 50-plus years, with now more than 1,300 churches.
FMI Director Jim Scott’s global update for the past year highlighted beginning new works in 13 countries—including Surinam, Ukraine, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The evening session included a five-minute live-stream security blackout, when those present were also asked to switch off any recording devices, for an update on what has been happening in closed countries.
After the evening session, friends old and new enjoyed one more night of fellowship at the Late Night Connection Center.
Those not in Dallas can watch Thursday’s closing session online through June 6, 2014.
And whether you’re in Dallas or at home, you can capture everything Connection has to offer by ordering the Foursquare Connection 2014 Experience Kit at the Connection Store. You can purchase the Experience Kit With Digital Downloads or the Experience Kit With DVDs and CDs Mailed.