Happy New Year! You are receiving in January an update that we intended to communicate in December. However, although we were not able to meet our original deadline, it is very important for you to have the information.
In Matthew 9, Jesus stated that it is not prudent to patch an old garment with a piece of new cloth, nor is it sensible to put new wine into old wineskins. In other words, the religious structure of Jesus’ day was not able to contain the kingdom principles that He was proclaiming.
Those insights are applicable to the current season that The Foursquare Church is experiencing. We must come together to seek the Holy Spirit’s counsel as we strive to exist as a vibrant organism while acknowledging the fact that we are an organization. Atrophy will slip in when vigilance is not a discipline; systems that were once effective can become hindrances to the mission rather than serving it. As we near our 100-year anniversary, we must determine when it is better to acquire a new garment instead of patching the old one, and when a new wineskin is necessary to accommodate new wine.
This past June the board of directors met and committed to authorize an audit of our missional and administrative effectiveness. Our goal is to align all of our resources to mission and evaluate every area to determine its effectiveness and efficiency. This followed an 18-month process of rectifying a decade-long practice of deficit spending. Interest monies and aligned businesses had offset those deficits, but the current economic realities exposed a needed change.
Though we have arrived at a balanced budget, continued disciplines will be necessary as we structure more effectively for mission while maintaining a high priority of getting more money to the field. The audits will pave the way for further discoveries and important decisions. Assessing the impact of further cuts will ensure that those decisions do not erode essential services.
Shortly after the June board retreat, a group of pastors contacted me and asked if I would be willing to meet with them to review concerns over the spending of past years of and respond to concerns about our missional effectiveness. After conversations with the sitting president, Pastor Jack Hayford, and the board of directors, it was determined that a meeting with those pastors would be productive and appropriate. The group met in August in Portland, Ore. Several members of the board of directors and observers were also present at the meeting: Steve Schell, Eric Hulet, Jim Hayford and Greg Campbell.
Greg Campbell presented a thorough and transparent financial report, which prompted probing questions regarding the finances and many of the processes of decision making at the central offices. While there was an appreciation of the decisions by the board to ameliorate the financial crisis, there was also a passion about committing to our missional effectiveness and funding it adequately. Valuable conversations arose concerning a review of the operations that are best left to local churches.
A consensus developed that we would be well served to identify some “next steps.” We want to move forward with clarity and unity as we continue to make courageous decisions regarding the alignment of resources appropriately in the field. In other words, we want to continue to reduce corporate dependencies and empower and fund the ministry in the field.
The board of directors invited a representative group of the lead pastors that assembled in Portland to meet in Christiansburg, Va., to present a summary of their views. The newly appointed supervisors were also present in the meeting. It was clear that we all want to be a part of a healthy and fruitful movement that makes responsible decisions and exercises appropriate stewardship of its resources. We may have different ideas about how to accomplish those goals, but everyone wants to participate in helping our denomination achieve optimal effectiveness.
Arising from that joint discussion was the recommendation that the board of directors reconstitute the National Church Committee (NCC). The committee’s initial task is to examine all activities and review all available resources in order to determine what can be done most effectively by local churches and what can be done most effectively at the district and central offices.
The board unanimously agreed to the recommendation and identified potential NCC members. The committee comprises eight pastors, Peter Bonanno, Wayne Cordeiro, Dennis Easter, Farrell Lemings, Nate Poetzl, Stan Simmons, Burt Smith, Jim Tolle; three supervisors, Kimberly Dirmann, Sam Rockwell, Jim Scott; three board members, Eric Hulet, John Mazariegos, Doretha O’Quinn; and three executive officers, Glenn Burris Jr., Tammy Dunahoo, Jonathan Hall. Dennis Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church, is the chair of the committee; Tammy Dunahoo, interim general supervisor, is the vice chair. The committee’s first meeting was by conference call on November 24; the first face-to-face meeting was December 8. The NCC will give its first report to the board and the cabinet in January in Glendale, Calif.
We believe that the NCC will be an invaluable resource as we move toward becoming a “we” movement instead of maintaining an “us/them” focus, thus the need to consider the paradigm change that has been articulated by various leadership groups within our movement. In fact, denominational leaders all across the country are engaged in intense conversations and internal scrutiny regarding how they can work together more effectively and how they can maximize field input and partnership. So it seems that Foursquare’s efforts are right on track with our assessment plans.
Join with us in prayer during this incredibly important season. We need the Lord to give us discernment concerning which garments can’t be repaired and which wineskins need to be replaced. Positioning ourselves for new wine is paramount. Our prayer is that we will discover together how we can best steward the talents and treasures entrusted to us to accelerate our mission of reaching, evangelizing the lost; Training, discipling devoted followers of Christ; and Sending, multiplying churches, ministries, and people for the harvest.
We will keep you apprised of new developments as they occur. Thank you for your partnership in proclaiming the Foursquare Gospel around the world.
By: Glenn Burris Jr., interim president of The Foursquare Church.