Foursquare churches nationwide celebrated Easter by reaching their communities with compassionate service, teaching the gospel message and preaching the freedom that comes because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Representing churches from coast to coast, 80 Foursquare pastors responded to our post-holiday survey to share their stories from Easter weekend. In total, they reported 2,453 first-time decisions for Christ. Scores of people rededicated their lives to the Lord, and many took a stand for faith through water baptism.
Foursquare leaders also told of their innovative ways to invite newcomers, including social media platforms, radio announcements, TV partnerships, door hangers and personal “One Invite Can Change a Life” challenges to congregation members. While effective, these creative methods were merely tools to initiate life transformation for new believers.
To bring the gospel message to those who generally wouldn’t set foot within a church building, Foursquare leaders engaged communities with acts of service motivated by love.
“On Saturday morning, we served a little over 200 homeless men and women a hot breakfast of eggs, grits, ham and hot coffee,” says Senior Pastor Samuel Infanzon of the outreach activities of The Mission (St. Petersburg Mission Foursquare Church) in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Then we shared the life-giving message of Easter.”
In Utah, Church at Liberty Park (Salt Lake City 5 Foursquare Church) in Salt Lake City hosted a community Easter egg hunt with free food, gift bags for kids, grand prize drawings for scooters and bicycles, and a gospel presentation for the 464 people who participated. Many churches nationwide included similar Easter activities to gather their communities for good food, good times and Good News.
Meanwhile some missionaries and pastors, including Joseph Sutton, senior pastor of Minneapolis Believers in Christ (Minneapolis Believers Foursquare Church), opted to involve their communities with traditional Passover Seder dinners.
“This [Seder meal] comes at the end of 40 days of fasting and prayer,” says Pastor Joseph of his church’s commitment.
In Santa Cruz, Calif., Senior Pastor Daniel Bennett led Santa Cruz Hope Church (Santa Cruz Hope Foursquare Church) to the beach on Good Friday to connect with his community’s culture.
“In a beach community, when a surfer dies, his friends and family paddle out to remember him,” he explains. “We [observed this tradition] to remember Christ’s crucifixion, and it was powerful.”
Counting the Cost
To share the message of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, Foursquare leaders also built on relationships they had already fostered.
“We all went out in different groups, to the same apartment complex where we usually have a weekly homework assistance program, for door-to-door witnessing,” shares Alaba Obiri, senior pastor of Freedom Life (Houston South Foursquare Church) in Houston, Texas.
Then, as outreaches received positive responses, leaders encouraged their congregations to continue to show compassion beyond Easter Sunday.
“I marvel at how the resurrected Lord who had just conquered sin, death and hell took the time to cook His disciples breakfast,” says Jon Burgess, senior pastor of New Hope Seattle (Shoreline Foursquare Church) in Shoreline, Wash., as he reflects on John 21. For the past few months, his church has offered free food and coffee to people at a bus stop near a methadone clinic every Friday. “Rain or shine, we are there to love on people,” he says. “It’s a simple, reproducible, consistent outreach.”
Through The Foursquare Church’s desire to serve others, the Holy Spirit is invited to stir hearts and engage minds.
“God’s Spirit moves graciously as we just make ourselves available,” affirms George Magdalany, senior pastor of Hawthorne Hope Chapel Foursquare Church in Hawthorne, Calif. “It brings us together and lets the community know that Jesus cares.”
Gathering to Worship
While churches gathered to serve communities, Foursquare leaders also witnessed commitments for Christ through their weekend services.
College students found a reason for faith. Seniors experienced the overwhelming power of grace. Single parents discovered refuge. Children danced, those in mourning sought solace, and the ill praised the Lord despite their circumstances.
“There is great power in praising God,” Senior Pastor Richard Oloidi says in response to a potent time of worship at King’s Palace Foursquare Gospel Church (Riverdale Foursquare Church) in Riverdale, Ga.
Chad Budlong, senior pastor of Faith Harvest (Goodyear Foursquare Church) in Goodyear, Ariz., agrees. During praise and prayer at his church, he reports, more than 50 sick and afflicted people embraced Jesus as Healer and reported experiencing recovery.
Senior Pastor Andrew Ferguson of Hope (Snohomish Foursquare Church) in Snohomish, Wash., shared how one older gentleman’s salvation even refocused his perspective.
“He responded to the weightiness of God's Word,” Pastor Andrew recalls. “He raised his hand, not because we decorated our stage so beautifully, but because God’s Spirit had led him to truth.”
Many were led to the truth this holiday as Foursquare pastors, leaders, members and volunteers united in love to share the life-changing message of Christ’s resurrection.
As Robin Nagasako, assisting minister of New Hope Leeward (Leeward Oahu Foursquare Church) in Waipahu, Hawaii, says: “If we all work together and have a unified front, then we can accomplish greater things for Jesus!”
By: Allyson Siwajian, content coordinator for foursquare.org and Foursquare Leader magazine in Los Angeles