Some things inspire us to get out of bed in the morning, out of the house or off the couch. Some things inspire us to invest significant amounts of time, energy and resource. Finally, some things inspire us to risk everything, including our lives.
That’s the kind of inspiration that drove Dietrich Bonhoeffer to leave the safety of the United States and return to Germany to confront injustice. He died as a martyr in Nazi Germany at age 39. In his book The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote: “How impossible, how utterly absurd it would be for the disciples—these disciples, such men as these!—to try and become the light of the world! No, they are already the light, and the call has made them so.”
That inspiration drove Bonhoeffer to risk everything for the cause of Christ, believing that disciples have been given the task of going into the darkness and fulfilling the plan of God to reconcile the world unto Himself. It was a compelling cause beside which everything else paled in comparison.
In the 2013 edition of ChurchLeaders Top 100, Alan Danielson said that the No. 1 reason churches plateau and decline is that they have lost their outward focus. We get busy doing church and, over time, lose the edge of risking everything to win the lost. Denominations can become so complex and institutional that they can easily forget the compelling reasons of the why of what they do. We can easily lose sight of the joy that floods heaven when just one finds the truth!
One of the goals in our journey during the last couple of years has been to peel back the layers of organization and ask some really important questions. “What if” has been a part of our dialogue at strategic meetings with pastors, leaders, board members, supervisors and the cabinet; the question has also been posed at convention.
We will continue to question, research and discuss. To ensure that we are including all local Foursquare leaders in these discussions, we have scheduled 20 Town Hall meetings across the U.S. to facilitate the discussion of important issues as well as exciting opportunities. The Town Hall meeting dates can be found at reimaginefoursquare.org. An outline for the meetings, which will be hosted by the district supervisors, will be sent out soon.
All of our Town Hall conversations will be about seizing opportunities and removing obstacles. General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo and I will be visiting each district personally. The meetings will include a significant question-and-answer time so that participants will have the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions.
We will be live streaming two of the events, including one in Spanish, so that those who can’t attend in person can still attend online. We are also developing a blog to outline the history of how we arrived at this point and the clear objectives that we have for our meetings.
Foursquare leaders can begin preparing for these important discussion times by reviewing the video of the panel discussion that was part of our convention in Florida, also found at reimaginefoursquare.org. Leaders can visit 4sq.ca/2013report to read my report to the 2013 cabinet and the research that has been done so far by a task force that was commissioned by the board of directors. Such exciting things are ahead of us as we work together to bring the whole gospel to the whole world!
I am asking that Foursquare leaders join us in a prayer focus as well. Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42, NIV). That is our prayer for these days. We want God’s plan for our movement, not ours. We plan to continue our research, gather leaders’ counsel during these next six months, and present our findings to the 2014 cabinet and Foursquare Connection.
We may find ourselves, at that point, to need more research and/or conversations. We have no strict timeline to which we must adhere; we want to make decisions that are deliberate and that clearly reflect the will of the Lord. We want to be like the apostles in Acts 15, who concluded that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” regarding their vision to build bridges to the Gentiles.
As I conclude, I want to thank Foursquare leaders for their time and partnership. Nothing is more important than accomplishing God’s plan for us together. There was a sweet spirit of community when we gathered in Florida for Foursquare Connection 2013. The worship, the messages, the stories and the fellowship all focused our attention on the importance of listening, learning and then leading.
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, said that, if he had 1,000 lives, he would give them all for China. The seeds he planted continue to yield a great harvest for the kingdom in one of the most significant nations in the world. Are we willing to demonstrate that level of devotion by giving our all to the task that the Lord has placed before us? Let’s risk everything for Him!