Greetings, in Jesus’ name! I trust that this communication finds you well as summer comes to a close, and we head into the autumn months. For me, one of the highlights of summer took place yesterday as I attended an intimate gathering at the home of Debbie and Glenn Burris. We were there to celebrate their ministry and conclude Glenn’s tenure as president. It was a meaningful and appropriate celebration filled with shared stories, gifts, cards and loving tributes. We also spent time praying together. Glenn has run his leg of the race and finished well. He has passed the baton with his soul intact, his relationships healthy, and with his eyes fixed on a clear vision for the future. Glenn’s intentionality and integrity throughout this presidential transition has set an example for all of us to follow. With his presidency concluded, a new season filled with fresh assignments awaits Glenn and Debbie, and we bless them in it!
I have also been in transition for the past year, switching seats with Glenn in March and being formally installed as the president of The Foursquare Church at the end of May. However, September 1 marks my first official day in office. I am writing on this first official day and asking that you read thoroughly and prayerfully, as I share more about my personal commitments and my circles of relationships. Also, I am laying out four priorities for our movement that our team is committed to and in which I ask you to join us. I’m committed to starting well, setting our trajectory for the days ahead, and running the race with you one day at a time. Inspired by Glenn’s example, I have every intention of finishing in the same way that I start today.
- My heart is fully devoted to loving and following Jesus, seeking first His kingdom
and His righteousness.
- I am genuinely in love with my wife and maintain a commitment to prioritize
- I have a deep desire to serve Jesus and our Foursquare family with humility
and integrity, daily yielding to the Holy Spirit for guidance and empowerment.
- I maintain a great hope for the church that Jesus said He would build. She is the spiritual force, faithful presence and prophetic witness that our world desperately needs.
- I remain passionately committed to Jesus’ mandate to go into the entire world, preach the gospel of the kingdom, and make disciples of all nations.
I’m also aware that I need your help. So, I have a question: Could we fervently and regularly pray for each other? The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to distract us from our first love. He seeks to divide us in our relationships, to lure us into human-engineered approaches to ministry, and to obscure the focus of what Jesus has called us to do. Because we all face these spiritual headwinds, I’m praying earnestly for you and would welcome your prayers for me.
Circles of Relationship
A Foursquare president doesn’t lead alone. One of my primary responsibilities is to lead a team of women and men who help discern God’s will and shape the direction of our movement. This team serves at our central office, on my leadership team, on our board of directors, as district supervisors and as area missionaries. I will also regularly connect with pastors and leaders serving on the field.
In the coming months, I intend to give significant time and attention to these relationships. My goal is to ensure that our focus is on serving you, the pastors and leaders of our movement. You serve the churches, congregations, communities and collectives that Jesus is building into His church. The team I lead exists primarily to help you. Foursquare is organized as a corporate entity, which has an essential purpose. However, our shared life and mission aren’t about the corporation; they’re about the local church in all of its manifest expressions. That must be our top priority. Therefore, balanced perception of its needs and a clear focus on supporting its mission must come from trusting, mutually supportive relationships at all levels of leadership.
Four Main Priorities
One church research expert has said that the Western church is in such decline, that outside of supernatural intervention, things cannot be turned around. They say that the church has passed the point of no return. I don’t know about you, but I want to do more than manage the decline of the Western church.
I believe that prayer is the most important thing we can do right now and a powerful spiritual practice that the Holy Spirit has always used to renew the church. This alone gives me tremendous hope. But I also look at empirical evidence that suggests we are in the greatest revival of prayer in the history of the church, especially among younger generations. There is a growing hunger and desperation for God’s divine intervention, for God to “rend the heavens and step down” (Isaiah 64:1, NIV).
Remember the story of Nehemiah? He surveyed more than a 140 years of destruction and devastation. Jerusalem had been burned, Judah and Israel razed, and virtually nothing remained of David’s kingdom. Nevertheless, Nehemiah prayed amidst a seemingly hopeless situation. And everything changed. What sat in ruins for generations was rebuilt in days.
“I believe that prayer is the most important thing we can do right now and a powerful spiritual practice that the Holy Spirit has always used to renew the church.”
I believe that God not only can, but that He also will, accelerate a breakthrough as His people pray. God is always at work in the unassuming spaces, transforming our lives as we press into His presence and seek His face. God is also at work through His people to alter the trajectory of history. He pushes back the darkness, as they remain devoted to prayer and give Him no rest (Luke 18:1-8).
So, let’s lead people who know how to intercede together. Let’s be leaders who see the importance of time spent praying together. Let’s stand in the gap and war against the evil one that we might go forth and minister under an open heaven. Let’s pray as if the very mission we’ve been entrusted with depends on it.
Jesus was the greatest disciple-maker in history. He unabashedly shared His life with a few He was preparing. What if we followed His example? What if we equipped people as if we were going to leave them in three years? How would we go about it? We would do so like Jesus, who was leading with the idea of leaving. There was urgency to His practice of discipleship. The future of the mission depended on it.
It’s possible that we’ve lost some of that urgency in recent years, which is ironic given the history of Foursquare. Our missiology spawned a global movement whose impact is disproportional to the size of our denomination. The Four-Stage Model, so thoughtfully articulated by John L. Amstutz, has served as the guiding framework of The Foursquare Church. It sets forth the infinitely reproducible life cycle of making disciples and developing a healthy church.
It simplifies this process into four stages. In Stage 1, we evangelize and make disciples. Stage 2 follows with training disciples and releasing them into ministry. During Stage 3, we train pastors and plant churches. With Stage 4, we send missionaries.
As this simple model illustrates, when we prioritize discipleship and leadership development, church planting and missionary movements are the result. Our missiology is a wheel that only turns when all four parts are in continual motion. I hear the Holy Spirit calling our church back to its mission of making disciples. And that will require experienced leaders to create relational contexts for a diverse generation of younger leaders, giving them access to equipping, mentoring and opportunity.
As we intentionally value deep relationship with younger leaders, listening and sharing our lives with them, we will see a new generation passionate about Jesus. I see it happening. There is an exciting focus on that goal in our district’s NextGen ministries. They’re working together to establish a culture of discipleship among our children and youth. I believe it will bear fruit, and I’m excited to see what is going to be released among those generations in the coming years. My prayer is that we see an avalanche of young, highly equipped leaders, deeply discipled in the way of Jesus, who want to plant all types of churches, congregations and communities being sent on mission. Theirs will be a radical devotion to Christ and His kingdom.
I believe this is not only possible; I believe it is a prophetic declaration. Let’s serve together to carry that vision into the future.
I have been handed some healthy areas within our movement to steward, and I’m grateful. This didn’t happen in a vacuum. These vibrant areas are the result of faithful prayer, intentional hard work, organizational discipline and excellent values that are faithfully lived out.
It’s easy to lose health and hard to regain it, so in this next season we will be vigilant to maintain the health we enjoy and to do the hard work of addressing areas that are less healthy. Our goal is that anyone could look into any part of our organization or business affairs and find healthy relationships, wise stewardship of financial resources, and humane HR practices designed to help people flourish in their calling and work.
“As we intentionally value deep relationship with younger leaders, listening and sharing our lives with them, we will see a new generation passionate about Jesus. I see it happening.”
Beyond our organizational and fiduciary health, I care deeply about the mental and physical well-being of our pastors and leaders. The COVID-19 quarantine—as well as economic uncertainty, political acrimony, social unrest, and issues of racial inequity and matters of injustice—have caused exhaustion, confusion, frustration and pain for so many. People are arguing about all of this. They’re arguing about what’s true. They’re arguing about what’s next. They’re arguing online, in homes and at public protests. It’s happening in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Those arguments have also entered the church, threatening its Spirit-born unity.
The church has a unique opportunity to shine as a counter-cultural movement, showing a nation spilt between red and blue that there is a third way. We are the embodied life of Jesus. We are a new humanity (Eph. 2:15), telling the world that we are Jesus’ disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:35). We are blessed when we are peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). We are sent as ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20). We work toward redemptive solutions as we boldly minister the truth of Jesus. He is our Wonderful Counselor and the One who heals all of our diseases. Jesus brings clarity, restoration and life, alongside which comes health. I hear the Spirit calling us to be healers in Jesus’ name.
As hard as the pandemic has been, it’s taught us that we need one another. We don’t have the luxury of going it alone. People need people, leaders need leaders, and churches need churches. It’s almost cliché to say it this way, but we are better together.
That said, we are not a perfect family. And we are unique and diverse in our imperfection. That is why we give one another grace because each of us bears God’s image, and together we make a more complete portrait of our Creator. As a denomination, we are not greater than or lesser than other movements in the body of Christ. We are all part of God’s grand narrative. Our Foursquare story is a remarkable part of that, and God is not finished writing it yet. As He weaves all of our stories together for His pleasure and purpose, the larger body of Christ needs us to be us, just as we need them to be them.
“Being this kind of family, this kind of global movement, requires unconditional love, believing the best in one another, and always denying self for the good of others.”
I’m not sectarian by any means, I’m not denominational by preference, but I am committed to the family that Jesus placed me in, and I value the relationships I’ve found within. It’s not a surprise to me that we are not homogenous or monocultural. Foursquare is incredibly diverse in its unity. We are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents. We are young, middle-aged and not-so-young. We are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. We are urban and rural. We are male and female. We are people of all colors, displaying every culture and tribe imaginable. But what we have in common is our shared life in Jesus. It is far greater than our distinctions. We need all of us. There is power in unity and a shared identity as a family, each of us seen as significantly called and graced by Jesus.
I believe God designed us like this. Being this kind of family, this kind of global movement, requires unconditional love, believing the best in one another and always denying self for the good of others. Most important, it requires keeping Jesus at the forefront of our worship and purpose, while committing to honest and clear communication that is full of truth and grace–conversations that speak the truth in love and impart grace.
Together is more than unity that releases diversity, it is partnership and collaboration. With the return of the tithe borne out of the Reimagine Foursquare process, resources once held corporately for mission are now relocated to the local level. Things once initiated and overseen at a district and national level are now a matter of our Foursquare family partnering and working together in unprecedented ways. Look for more conversation around these new realities in the future.
As a movement, I see so much potential. We will do much together for His kingdom because there is much left to do. I’m excited to see the Holy Spirit release a healthy new season of unity and mutual love among us, sustained in prayer, as we send a new generation of disciples into fields that are ripe for harvest. I pledge to work faithfully with you toward that end.