Generations of Life Pacific students have navigated the waters of Foursquare Polity and rejoiced when they successfully completed their licensing panels and received their ministerial credentials. In it’s new iteration, Foursquare Polity taught at LPU focuses on fully preparing graduates for success in the daily life of the church as well as offering insight into the Five Keystones of The Foursquare Church.
Jennifer Thigpenn, a guest lecturer in the polity course at LPU, appreciates how the program prepares students with a solid foundation and equips them for a new season of service as licensed ministers.
“The future is built on how we steward what we have today, and the pipeline of leadership is no exception,” Jennifer says. “Stewarding the voices and experiences of those in the field, the polity process becomes a passing on of legacy – similar to the oral histories passed from generation to generation throughout the biblical narrative – in addition to the passing on of information.”
Sam Rockwell, also a guest lecturer in the polity course, found it helpful to walk students through how the “Five Keystones” of The Foursquare Church were discovered and to review the methodology for how they were determined. Sam says that these Keystone markers define the identity of The Foursquare Church: Women in Senior Leadership, Integrated Mission, Pentecostal Ethos, Middle of the Road policy, and Indigenous Empowerment.
Sam believes the “Keystone” perspective is important because it highlights aspects of Foursquare history and distinctiveness that nothing else will. “For example, potential ministers intuitively understand the “ethos” of being Pentecostal, that it is a practice and a way of seeing and experiencing the world, not just doctrine and teaching. This resonates with students, particularly, and is a vital aspect of being a ministry leader,” Sam says.
Ministers like Jennifer and Sam are pouring their lives into LPU students by sharing their experiences and their knowledge about Foursquare doctrine, ethos and mission, history and heritage, as well as polity and practical ministry. Jennifer believes that guest lecturers in the polity course provide students with an array of perspectives – gender, ethnicity, generational, and geographical – and that they also bring depth to the conversation that a singular perspective or narrative cannot.
More than just topics to be studied, Jennifer says the guest lecturers offer context for how these topics are lived out every day in the local church. Leadership development does not happen in a vacuum, Jennifer says, but is “expanded as we listen, learn, engage and practice with those who are doing Kingdom work in the vast and varied communities to which they have been called.”
Sam concurs. “It is a good precedent to have experienced ministers from various cultural and social perspectives interact with license candidates. They need the broadest view of Foursquare possible.” Further, he says the Five Keystones were not created as an aspirational set of themes, but rather, they represent what has been historically consistent in The Foursquare Church.
The polity course, as a whole, is an orientation to our Foursquare culture, our doctrine, our history, and our structure. “Even though it comes at the end of a student’s time at LPU, it truly functions as a beginning; a foundation that will be built on as they move into whatever the Lord has ordained for their lives,” Jennifer says.
Sam appreciates the commitment and dedication of the polity students to learn about the foundations of Foursquare. “Students were eager to learn, very perceptive and inquisitive about the content of the class,” he says.
“I love participating in the polity process and licensing interviews because I love being able to see where people begin and watch their stories develop over time,” Jennifer adds. It’s a holy moment to be part of affirming the call that the Lord has on a candidate’s life as well as to celebrate the diligent preparation they put into learning about and identifying with the family that they are joining,” she says.
No single course can fully prepare a person for all that comes with vocational ministry, but Jennifer, Sam, and other ministers who guest lecture in the Foursquare polity course at LPU believe they are helping prepare students to lead in the future with full appreciation of their past.