Church Definitions for the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada
The Bible uses a variety of metaphors to describe the church; each one captures some of aspect of this wonderful group of God’s people called “church:”
- The Bride of Christ
- A Body
- An Army
- A Building
- A Family
In keeping with how the Foursquare Church has been described around the world, the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada has chosen to use human family metaphors to describe various stages of new church development.
An Adult Church (also referred to as a “Chartered Church”): Just like a daughter grows up, leaves home and establishes her own identity, a Chartered Church refers to a church that has met the criteria established by the National Board to operate as a fully functioning church that is not dependent upon another church for its existence. It has received charter status which means that it is so recognized and has received her CRA tax number that allows her to issue official receipts for charitable giving. A Chartered Church can have several forms:
- Central Church /Traditional “family” structure that includes meeting in a central location for public services.
- House Churches (Churches that meet in homes): this is done intentionally and reflects the values of this group to do church in this way. A house church may meet the criteria for a charter church, i.e. have the required number of tithing units and be responsible for its own administration. In other cases, a House Church might be in relationship with a larger Central Church that provides the charitable receipts and other lateral support. (This is one designation that is still being defined in the greater Church of Jesus Christ).
- Multi-Campus (Satellite): A Campus Church will have a separate address, but be connected in every way (staff, communications, programs, finances, vision, goals and plans) to the main campus. The Campus Church may have its own campus pastor but remains under the headship of the Lead Pastor of the main campus.
Mother Church: in human terms, a mother conceives, gives birth and nurtures a child until she is able to care for herself. This natural progression accurately describes the process of a local church that conceives the idea of starting (planting) a new church, nurtures that new “life” in the womb, gives birth to that new church, and provides post-natal care until that new church is mature enough to receive the designation of a Chartered Church. Even after this happens, the mother will continue to relate to her daughter church as a human mother does with her adult children.
Sponsor Church: A Sponsor Church describes a church that agrees to take on the responsibilities of a Mother Church but has no previous relationship with the prospective leader or group. Like the Mother Church, the goal of the Sponsor Church is to see a healthy, self-sufficient, reproducing church be established through relationship and guidance.
Church Pregnancy (Outreach): Like a human marriage that is healthy and in loving relationship, life will come and a local church may find itself “pregnant” with a new church. This is part of the “Conception Stage” and “Pre-natal Stage” of a new life. The new life needs to be nurtured and cared for within the womb of the mother church. This will look different and somehow the same for each church pregnancy. Just like a prematurely born baby can be at risk, the same is true of a new church that is birthed (goes public) too quickly. The New Foursquare Church Development Team requests that a new work not be called “a church” until all the safeguards for a successful birth are in place (see “The RoadMap for Planting a Foursquare Church”). The Mother/Sponsor Church may sanction a group and leader beginning to meet but again, our goal is to see healthy births. Also, when a local church thinks it might be pregnant, we request that the Team Leader of the NFCD Team be contacted as well as the Unit Supervisor to begin providing the Pre-Natal care.
Church Plant: Once a church planter has successfully completed the steps on the RoadMap for Planting a Church in the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada which includes participating in a Church Planting Intensive and submitting a Church Planting Proposal and being in relationship with a Mother/Sponsoring Church, that group will be recognized as a church plant and can advertise itself as a Foursquare Church. This new church will stay connected to the Mother/Sponsor Church until it meets the criteria of being a Chartered Church in the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada.
The Three Ways an Adult/Chartered Church may be involved in Spiritual Reproduction:
Birth: This is the most straightforward and follows the pattern of how a human being comes into the world. The life is conceived, birthed and nurtured so the new baby church can grow to be a healthy reproducing congregation in its own right.
Adoption: An Adult/Chartered Church will out of relationship begin to relate to a church that is already established but is in need of family care and covering; just like what happens in the human realm where a child is orphaned or through family trauma has be cut off from the loving support needed to grow to maturity.
- An Adoptive Church will have been registered with the CRA and is an existing family of believers functioning as a church but in a place of need. The church seeking adoption will agree to go through the adoption process as outlined by the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada. Once the process of adoption is completed, which includes much dialogue to ensure that everyone is clear and satisfied with the agreement, the Adoptive Church will become a legal member of the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada family. (Again, the metaphor of “adoption” will help make this process clearer as people understand that adoptions take time and care to make sure that the adoption is mutually beneficial).
Fostering: Fostering is another family metaphor that will help clarify certain types of supportive relationships between a local Foursquare Church and another local church that is not a part of the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada but is a part of the universal Church of Jesus Christ.
- Just like in human relationships, local churches need help and support during times of difficulty. Human Resources provides foster care for children who require such care during crisis. The same can happen to a local church.
- An independent church (the Fostered Church) that holds a CRA tax number may request to enter into a “fostering” relationship with a local Foursquare Church following a strong friendship where both the church requesting help and the local Foursquare Church have developed a trusting relationship.
- The Foster Church will enter into a relationship of receiving care (which might include some form of financial assistance for a designate period of time) without the goal of that church becoming an Adoptive Church. (This does not rule out the possibility of this happening at some point, but it is not the stated or implied goal of the fostering relationship).
- The Fostered Church will place no legal responsibilities on the Foster Church. It is not a legal part of the Foursquare Gospel Church family.
- The Fostered Church may be invited to enjoy some family activities such as Pastor’s Meetings, Conferences, etc.
As with other relationships, this whole scheme is in development. We have endeavored to put down in writing our thoughts on the various stages of “church” and how the FGCC views them. Please feel free to contact a representative of the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada for more information or clarification.