Thoughts on Convention part II

I am continuing the thoughts about convention/connection ’09 to unpack some ideas on the unplanned theme to restock the shelves. We all see the numbers that we have an aging group of senior pastors with the median age being 53 and more senior pastors over 80 than under 30. A few people have been banging the drum for years that something must change in order to grasp the future God has for the foursquare movement.
The good thing from this convention is that we were actually talking about the situation at hand. We need more young leaders to simply replenish the existing leaders as we age. If we want to go forward we need to breakthrough some barriers and release loads more of young leaders into the field to connect a world that needs Jesus with the one we profess the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I can’t escape one idea that could help both promote an empower younger leadership and create opportunity to push the envelope with creativity and enthusiasm for evangelism and discipleship. What I am thinking of is a track to church planting at the Bible College. What if we got revolutionary and designed a way to get people equipped to plant a church within the year they graduate?

I am thinking back to my class in 2002. And we will theme this what if…
What if…we did more than a class on church planting (which I believe no longer exists at the school), but an entire track. What if students began preparing as soon they hit the upper class on graduating into a senior leadership role? Maybe not everyone is cut out for a church plant, starting something from nothing, but there are many open pulpits right now this summer if one of those graduate students this year were up to the challenge.

What if we didn’t wait for people to prove themselves, but we took risks with younger leaders? As for myself, I am pretty sure I wasn’t ready upon graduation, and needed to grow in my confidence as a leader. However, I know there were several students graduating with me that would have been ready had there been a process to train and establish them in what it meant to be a lead minister.

What if we dedicated the final year of learning to an integrated set of classes with the church plant vision and plan? Secondly, we tie that into a local church with a pastor willing to mentor and coach the graduates as they enter into the tough road of starting a church, or even taking over an existing church which comes with its own set of hurdles. I believe care is the missing ingredient of the mentoring process. I see Paul write to Timothy twice that we have record of to encourage, exhort and propel him into everything God has for him. The key for Paul’s purpose is Timothy’s success and not Paul’s legacy.

What if the cream of the crop weren’t looking for the best place to gain a good job, but were identified and poured into to take the baton and run with it into leading the future of the Foursquare Church. Rather than having barely a dozen senior pastors under the age of 30, we could have dozens with years of experience by the time they are 30. They will have the youth and willingness to take risks that aren’t taken when they get older. They will make mistakes, but the lessons learned over those years will greatly increase the years of effective ministry to come. As we grow older, we are less likely to risk our reputation, our family, or our future with the necessary innovations to reach the world for Jesus. We become more likely to go with the status quo and hope some one else has the energy to change things.

What if we had a half dozen graduates per year plant a church? In the eight years it takes them to reach 30 years of age, we would have 42 new churches just from one place of input, LPC. Let LPC take the risk and lead to empower and continue the care for the young leaders we are praying for. Yeah, some would fail, but some already fail…many more would succeed, and I dare say this would greatly help change the culture and focus of the Bible College, the denomination and the local church in a positive way with out changing the core values of our movement.

I don’t want to be sitting around in a few years bemoaning how few of my friends have remained in ministry after 10 years. I want to begin to celebrate a new chapter in our movement of how many people after me I can speak future and hope into. How many can I participate with to see their dreams achieved? How many can I pull forward to fulfill their potential and fulfill the Great Commission, still the greatest commission ever?

Thoughts on convention/connection ’09

Okay, I wanted to share some thoughts from the Foursquare Convention/Connection ’09
Some time has passed since I was there. The upside of a blog is timeliness and immediacy, and the downside is timeliness & immediacy. Blogs rarely give space in this frantic overly informationalized culture to have perspective and process thoughts aside from banter on the blogs…

I get the privilege of walking the halls at a meeting like our denominational gathering as a missionary. I don’t get the typical, how are things going question (which translates to how big are you?). Sometimes we lose perspective at convention and rather than finding a way to be encouraged and refreshed, we find our self fretting my friends seeing me and wondering if I will compare favorably to what they are doing in ministry and walking away downcast and beaten.

Conventions include business meetings, worship gatherings, a hall filled with booths covering the range from social justice to fiscal health, church growth and leadership development to prayer and spiritual health. For me, I always join the meting to see friends and cultivate the relationships I have with my foursquare family.

This year the big news that pretty much swallowed up the rest of the convention was the news of a leadership transition coming sooner than expected. The surprise of Pastor Jack Hayford withdrawing his name to be president filled the conversations, twitter feeds and face book updates for the days surrounding Connection. The take away from the last five years will be a return to integrity and recovering lost ground from poor transitions the previous two times. My hope looks to gaining ground for the kingdom of God in the coming years.

I thoroughly enjoyed several of the themes that showed up on the evening sessions.
1. Youth, a push to look to the next generation definitely came across the first night, from the music to the people on stage.
2. Women in ministry. Foursquare was founded by a woman, and many women founded churches in the first generation of the movement. However, the past few decades toward a male dominated leadership. I find it funny when meetings like this will often have women in ministry workshop, and the vast majority of those in the session will be women. Telling women they should be in ministry validates an innate calling; however the men are the one’s that need to be reminded of the necessity for shared leadership. Women don’t lead because there is a void of male leadership, but because they are empowered and released.
3. Missions…I loved seeing amazing leaders from our global family sharing with the convention body. A. H. Manday from Indonesia has been used mightily by God to pastor a revival in Indonesia. We were blessed to share the diversity of what God is doing around the world.

4. Restocking the shelves…this theme was found in and out of the different speakers as we look to the future of the foursquare church. We can’t deny that we need to get more young leaders out there.

Again, Connection defines exactly why I love to be at these meetings. I love to see my friends who I have served in ministry with for years…making new connections and just dialoging with people about how God is taking care of them. We connected with many people have partnered with us as we serve in Thailand. It was exciting to have them introduce us as their missionary. We are so blessed to represent the call to reach unreached people around the world for local churches in the US.