Big dreams are not realized overnight, but through a series of steps taken incrementally toward the goal. So sometimes it is important for people to stand back to get a clearer picture of just how far they have advanced along the path.
A lot has been going on since Foursquare Connection 2014 in Dallas last May, when attendees approved the realignment proposals presented as part of Foursquare’s comprehensive Reimagine process.
Intended to better position Foursquare for greater fruitfulness in the days ahead, Reimagine comprises Five Stakes that will help enlarge our “tent,” as God spoke to His people in Isaiah 54:2. Here are updates on the Five Stakes and some of the key ways Reimagine has become more of a specific reality since the overall direction was approved at convention.
Stake 1: Align everything Foursquare to the Great Commission.
This overarching goal might be best viewed as the center pole of the Reimagine tent, from which the rest of the stakes are drawn out. This stake establishes the standard against which all the practical steps that need to be taken in the other stakes will be measured.
We should always be asking this question: How does this help us transform communities through the multiplication of disciples, leaders, churches and movements?
Stake 2: Align the National Church Office and district offices to a catalytic culture.
Many of the visible results of all the Reimagine work so far are to be found here. That includes the consolidation of Foursquare’s districts from 14 to 12, as of Jan. 1. Eight former districts have been part of this consolidation that brings together Great Northern, Northwest and Gateway; Mid-Atlantic and Northeast; and Greater Los Angeles, Pacific Coast and Valleys, and Southwest. The new Distrito Hispano del Suroeste (Southwestern Hispanic District) was created to help further the growth of Foursquare’s thriving Hispanic ministry.
Juan M. Vallejo was named district supervisor of Distrito Hispano del Suroeste. He is a former executive pastor at La Iglesia en el Camino (Van Nuys Hispanic Foursquare Church) in Van Nuys, Calif., and a former missionary, church planter and district supervisor in Latin America.
Peter Bonanno, former lead pastor at Grace Capital (Pembroke Foursquare Church) in Pembroke, N.H., from 1996-2014, and district supervisor in the historic Northern New England District from 2003-2009, has been appointed the supervisor of the Northeast Atlantic District, comprised of the consolidated Northeast and Mid-Atlantic districts.
NCO is being reorganized, with the aim of developing a “one team, 12 districts” mindset. To help foster this cohesion, four district supervisors each will work with the general supervisor, field team specialists, local pastors and interdenominational relationships to champion strategies and action in one of three main areas, sharing their learning in leadership development, church transformation and church multiplication. The supervisors will participate in three annual gatherings, one for each of the three focal points. Clear definition of a catalytic culture and leadership is helping to frame our evaluation and analysis of districts moving forward.
These three focal points reflect a change in language as Reimagine unfolds, replacing the Five Targets identified when Glenn Burris Jr. became president in 2010: leader support, healthy churches, reaching nations, diversifying leaders and resourcing ministries.
“The target values still exist, but we are tuning and narrowing our language and how we communicate,” explains Lisa Penberthy, director of operations for the National Church Office.
Significant operational shifts are also occurring, among them the replacement of Foursquare’s long-standing Ezra database. Much more user friendly and efficient, The Foursquare Hub will launch in 2015 with improved functionality that will include monthly church reporting, event registration and licensing information.
“So often you hear local pastors say, ‘All I want to do is reach the harvest, but I have to fill out all this paperwork,’ ” says Lisa. “Paperwork is obviously necessary, but we are making sure it is the right paperwork, and it is expedited.”
Stake 3: Align 100 percent of the tithe to the field, local and district.
As announced last month, $4.5 million will be returned to local churches for increased missional opportunities. These funds will be distributed to every church that participated in the covenant of tithe in 2014. The first distribution will be made in April for the tithe received July-Dec. of 2014. A second distribution will be made in Oct. 2015 for the tithe received January-June of 2015.
The expectation is that these funds will be used to accelerate the mission of multiplying disciples, leaders, churches and movements, as well as congregational and community transformation. An annual report will be completed by each of the churches that received these distributions, at the conclusion of 2015, to explain how the funds were used to accomplish our stated missional focus.
For 2016, contingent upon board approval, funds will be distributed the following year, after the district supervisors and district councils review the alignment of each local church to our stated missional focus.
In addition, developments such as The Foursquare Hub, which will provide better service for less money, are just part of the way Foursquare’s central office has been working hard to reduce expenses to release more resources to local ministry.
Significant strides have been made at the central office’s home at the Rolf K. McPherson building on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, across the street from Angelus Temple. Since 2008, Foursquare has cut the space it occupies in the 100,000-square-foot center by more than half; 60 percent of the space is now leased to a variety of tenants.
These tenants cover all the costs of the building; they also contribute to what is a projected cash revenue for 2015 of almost $300,000. “This represents a $1.7 million positive change in seven years,” notes Adam Davidson, Foursquare’s chief operating officer.
Other Foursquare properties in the same area are being evaluated for similar efficiencies, and staffing adjustments are being made as necessary. “Much focus is being given to eliminating redundant processes and looking for all opportunities to increase effectiveness and efficiency,” Adam continues.
Stake 4: Align Foursquare Foundation to resourcing and supporting the Foursquare mission.
Good stewardship isn’t just about what we do with God’s money, but also the way in which fiscal decisions are made. As such, changes in the way Foursquare Foundation allocates resources are intended to strengthen missional unity as well as increase effectiveness both at home and around the world.
From this year (2015), rather than making grants direct to applicants, Foursquare Foundation is allocating $2.4 million of its $6.1 million budget to Foursquare Missions International. A further $1 million will go the Foursquare Global Council, which met with Foundation leaders to determine the best way to distribute this money.
At those meetings, the Global Council, comprised of international Foursquare elders and leaders, identified three priorities for guiding their decisions: “shared mission” based on Foursquare’s six internationally adopted Global Distinctives, including a focus on world evangelization and church planting; training of leaders; and regional development. Task forces for each goal are due to present plans for implementation before this year’s convention in May.
The Foundation’s changes in the way it handles what executive director Joe Wainer describes as “a blessing from heaven” have domestic implications, too: In addition to funding returning to the field from the extension tithe, the Foundation has committed $3 million to NCO’s Global Cities Strategy in partnership with local churches and districts. The Foundation is also allocating $1.7 million to leadership education and training, through NCO.
While the procedural changes are important, ultimately “it is not about the money,” says Joe. “Kingdom work is not equal to the amount of money you put into something. It can, however be more closely linked to the degree that the body of Christ responds to His call in a unified way, and how well elders and leaders can hear Jesus together. We are after the commanded blessing of Psalm 133. This ultimately means that loving and respecting one another is more important for kingdom work than allocating resources entrusted to us.”
Stake 5: Align polity to provide property options for local churches.
The organizational change associated with Reimagine has many legal and financial implications. One of the realignments offering alternative ways of handling property is going to take longer to realize than had originally been expected.
The preferred option, presented at Foursquare Connection last year, had been to allow local churches to establish separate entities for their properties—limited liability companies, or LLCs. However, Foursquare’s legal team learned late in 2014 that this is not a viable option.
Since then, the task force overseeing polity revisions has been looking into alternatives; changes to Foursquare’s existing structure to permit the formation of local corporations is being strongly considered. These corporations would be structured in such a way that the churches remain under Foursquare’s traditional modified episcopal form of government. The polity task force was due to meet early in the year to finalize proposals for the new direction.
One consequence of the unexpected roadblock is that there is now not enough time before Foursquare Connection 2015 to complete all the changes that will need to be made to existing Foursquare bylaws, which were due to have been voted on then. As a result, this will not happen until convention in 2016.
A strategic plan further updating each of the Five Stakes, along with specific objectives and measures, is due to be presented to Foursquare’s cabinet in March, with reports on subsequent progress at Foursquare Connection 2015 in Anaheim. Visit reimaginefoursquare.org for the latest updates.