Summer 2005 Letter to Credential Ministers

An open letter to all credentialed ministers of The Foursquare Church from President Jack Hayford at the start of the Summer season.

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Dear Fellow Servant,

Though I am at a retreat location where Anna and I have a few days of late-August rest, I just rolled up my sleeves (literally) as I have sat down to write you. Since this will arrive on your desk shortly after Labor Day, I hope you will have had some well-deserved, summertime-reprieve yourself.

This letter begins my second year of service to you, one of the trusted leaders in our movement. And it is with thanks to you and to our Lord Jesus–the Faithful and True Head of HIS Church–that I begin this new season beside you in partnership. He has graced us with a blessed beginning, and now–with this new season–I would like to talk with you about our “vision” as a family.

Mission-Vision statements are common everywhere today, and they are a useful way to define any group. As you have, I’ve formulated them as a pastor and have counseled in their development as a member of boards I have served on in the Christian community. Stepping into our second year together, I am asking you to think with me about our collective “heartbeat, mindset, and self-view” as a specific MOVEMENT–about how we see, or vision ourselves, as a distinct people.

TO BEGIN, “OUR VISION” MUST SERVE “LOCAL VISION”

The foremost “vision” I care about is yours, for your congregation. Having pastored my whole adult life, I can hardly describe the prayerful dependency I have lived in–(a) waiting upon God for His leading by the Holy Spirit’s “dreams and visions,” (b) receiving counsel from my congregation’s leaders and pastoral staff to refine the vision, and (c) pursuing the task inherent in the vision, with prayer and diligence to the task. ALWAYS, the vision’s goal was the blessing, growth, and fruitfulness of each member of the flock I was charged to lead.

Similarly, any “vision” I propose as president of our fellowship has you–with every pastor and leader of each congregation–at the heart of my care and concern. I present to you what it seems to me I have been given by the Lord. It is only proposed to you after having been submitted to and processed with the leader-team here. And ALWAYS the vision’s goal is your personal and congregational blessing, growth, and fruitfulness. However, a “whole family vision” is essential, too. Let me explain.

I am proposing no “corporate business” vision, but one inviting the Holy Spirit to bring a “movement” alive to its place in God’s purposes, power, and provision! As I step with you into our second year of partnership, I want to address “vision” with you.

“FOURSQUARE, COME FORTH!”

Each of the thousands of us present for the closing night of convention in Chicago will remember the prophetic word the Holy Spirit prompted through Pastor Burt Smith, of Olympia, Wash., one of our 76 district supervisors. The Spirit’s call was to “unwrap the grave clothes,” in the same way Lazarus was liberated–after he had been resurrected by the power of our Lord Jesus!

Our response as a church family was dynamic as, with childlike simplicity of response, we literally unwrapped each others heads (to see, speak), hands (to reach, touch, serve), and feet (to go, serve, preach). Exhorting our “prophetic response to a prophetic word,” I was moved to cry aloud, as Jesus did to Lazarus (John 11:33), “Foursquare, Come forth!” As a dynamic spirit of faith and unity filled the room, a discernible, supernaturally begotten spirit of praise began to rise like a tidal wave of grace. It was clearly more than emotion: we were being “moved” by a present sense of God’s calling us to a new season of liberty and faith for our future as a movement!

CALLING FORTH A PEOPLE BORN TO BE A MOVEMENT

My passion as a Foursquare pastor for all my years of ministry has not been to be “part of a denomination.” It has been to be a participant in “a movement.” Our history makes it clear that this was our calling from our inception. But time has an eroding effect on movements. When the founding vision of a beginning is forgotten, a mixture of acceptable-but-unfocused alternatives creates a smorgasbord of ideas rather than a common vision that unites people of varied gifts and callings.

I treasure the variety of leadership styles, visionary thrusts, and unique ministries that populate our ranks as credentialed Foursquare leaders! As I indicated above, I strongly believe in local pastoral and congregational vision. At the same time I affirm YOUR ministry vision, I am strongly caught in the Holy Spirit’s grip as your fellow servant to reassert our call to “come forth!”–as partners in a movement again. It’s a call to renew an intrinsic grip together on (1) a world-mission we envision collectively, (2) an identity we embrace unapologetically, (3) a full-orbed message of Jesus Christ we declare in unity, and (4) a love-filled lifestyle we model to all–openly.

You have doubtless noted that my letters have regularly used the word movement. To my mind, there may be no concept more important to our collective life than this. More than wordplay: “a movement” describes a people (1) joined by heart-gripping convictions; (2) who share a sense of living in a life-defining moment of history; and (3) who carry a Spirit-ignited “word” that compels their mission.

I hope to see the idea of “movement” fixed in our hearts through God’s Word. It is there; a description of the kind of “forward motion” the Holy Spirit produces. Not all translations use the word “moved” in the following texts, but the Greek verbs originally used frame a composite of that triple-type of people I referenced above. And this is what I see–the vision I want to propose we embrace in answering the Spirit’s call to “come forth–together.” Whatever vision or mission a local leader or congregation may have, there is no way I can imagine its being reduced if all of us as leaders in our movement let the following characterize our lives and ministries:

  • A heart-gripping conviction: Matthew 9:36–Jesus was “moved with compassion, the word esplagchnisthe being the Holy Spirit’s word describing the literally “gut-gripping” feelings our Savior experienced as He called for a movement into the harvest. This would involve our passionate partnership for reaching and touching people.
  • A life-defining moment: Hebrews 11:7–Noah was “moved with a reverent fear,” the word eulabetheis expressing his sense of a prophetic hour and a pivotal mission. This would involve us, as it did him, in teaming together as a people who believe we have a distinct, collective task to serve in a “world-hour of destiny.”
  • A Spirit-ignited “word”: 2 Peter 1:21–The Spirit Himself describes His moving upon the writers of the Scriptures, pheromenoi describing His “bearing, or carrying along”” people He selects to deliver His Word. This would involve our united conviction and ministry of the “full counsel of God” (Paul’s term—Acts 20:27).

AN INVITATION–AN AUTUMN ENCOUNTER

This autumn I have been invited many places, but nothing excites me as much as the invitations issued by a number of our district supervisors to minister at cluster gatherings of our fellowship’s leaders. Six conferences, incorporating leaders within the historic district boundary lines, afford me this privilege. I mention this to inform you of three things:

  1. As in all ministry I bring to the 20,000+ pastors/leaders I speak to annually, I want to bring a message of strengthening hope and nurture unto fruitfulness. But in these Foursquare conferences I will also be addressing “Jesus’ Vision of a Movement!”
  2. I want you to know you are invited to any one of these events your schedule might allow. Of course, your priority should be your own district’s fall conference, but if you are in the area (see enclosed schedule) you are welcome, indeed!
  3. Also, know that we hope to provide you with materials from the three messages I’ll bring at these conferences. In them, I will be projecting a Word-based vision I believe we can all embrace together, setting a renewed pace forward for us as a movement.

[Enclosed is a brief, “A Movement with New Testament Priorities”—a picture of values I see as basic to serving and fulfilling our identity and mission as a people. This isn’t my “message” for the autumn conferences, but it summarizes some key visionary future steps.]

“LOOK–THERE’S MORE!”

We all chuckle over that oft-repeated infomercial line. But in concluding I certainly have matters of greater significance than a potato-peeler that will also walk your dog, or a paint brush that will also double as your wrist watch.

You will not be surprised that I have included several pages of significant information with this letter. You have already discovered my commitment to full information and ready disclosure concerning all matters in our movement and any questions regarding our offices or operations.

I believe that forthright communication is fundamental to creating community and maintaining accountability. It is also essential to deepening bonds of unity and to assuring relational credibility.

Crucial to my values is that YOU believe in my belief in your importance as a distinct, creative, gifted, and spiritually motivated leader; that you be assured that your value is not measured by prominence but by significance–by the highly significant facts that Jesus (1) called you into ministry and (2) put you in the Foursquare movement!

So, again, I want to thank you for taking time to allow me to communicate thoroughly, enabling your fullest awareness, giving you dimensional perspective, and enabling informed interaction if you desire.

OF HUGE INTEREST, I’M CERTAIN

Enclosed are introductory presentations of facts that will be of high interest to all, as I am sure you have heard that our 2007 convention will be in Jerusalem, Israel. This is more than merely exciting–but at least that, given the fact that there is time to plan for that event. There are ways and means for almost any leader to plan, prepare, and pursue this profoundly significant event.

I want to urge every one of us to THINK and PLAN with FAITH in GOD’S ABILITY. And don’t–please, do not–think selectively, as though He cannot enable your attendance at both our 2006 convention in Washington, D.C., as well as the 2007 convention in Israel! God is “up to wonderful things” with our Foursquare Family! As a leader in that family, I want to conclude this letter–urging you to join me… please.

Lift your hands with me right now!
Lift your voice with mine–
As I have paused now as I write, please join me even now as you read!
Speaking aloud, let us unite in a concert of agreeing praise.

Father God–I praise You for Your all encompassing embrace!
I thank You for Your all enabling power and grace!
I exalt You above all doubt, dismay or disease!
And I magnify Your Name with gratitude, that You
“counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry!”

Accordingly, Dear Lord, I open my whole being to fresh rivers of
Holy Spirit-begotten praise, for You are my Strength
and my Song–my Shield and my Fortress!
Through Jesus, Your Son and my Savior! Amen!

Praising Him for you and with you,
Pastor Jack Hayford

is chancellor of The King's University and former president of The Foursquare Church.
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