Whether by traditional means of communication and outreach—such as flyers, newspaper ads, word-of-mouth and special Easter services—or via more avant-garde methods—using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and hosting creative community events—Foursquare churches across the U.S. reached an unprecedented number of people on the holiday weekend as a result.
Tabulated together, the 70 Foursquare churches that responded to a post-Easter survey sent to all senior pastors via email reported an 80 percent increase in attendance compared to typical Sunday numbers, from 38,844 on a usual Sunday to 69,937 on Easter.
Most important, a total of 2,913 people made first-time decisions for Christ during holiday services and outreaches conducted by the 70 churches in the survey. Additionally, 1,565 people rededicated their lives to Christ, 286 were baptized in water, and 44 were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Senior Pastor Tim Poetzl from Stanwood Foursquare Church in Stanwood, Wash., reports 1,117 people participating in Easter services. That’s 19 percent of their town, he notes, and 3 percent of the surrounding community.
At New Life Christian Fellowship (Moreno Valley Foursquare Church) in Moreno Valley, Calif., Senior Pastor James Samples shares that they served a free breakfast on Easter to everyone, including neighbors, feeding around 200 people. In addition, more than 200 people attended dramatic musical performances and a skit by the church’s kids.
“This year we had the largest impact to families that were not a part of our church than any time prior,” James tells Foursquare.org. “That weekend, including Easter Sunday, we touched around 200 people that were not a part of our congregation.”
Many congregations worked with other churches in their areas to maximize their Easter outreaches. Senior Pastor Kenny Lee from Living Fortress (Cody Foursquare Church) in Cody, Wyo., says that for the past five years, his church has enjoyed a combined worship service on Easter with two or more other congregations. He points out that working together does something important in the community.
“This year we had an adaptation of 1 Cor. 15 read by over 12 people, and several people shared testimonies and words from the Lord,” Kenny explains. “We shared communion and worshiped together. This has become an outreach event in our community … we break down denominational walls in this special combined service.”
Abundant Life (Mooresville South Foursquare Church) in Mooresville, N.C., organized a flash mob that told the story of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, and led a group of almost 700 gathered in singing “Jesus Loves Me.” They also sponsored—for the sixth year in a row—a community Easter egg hunt. Hosting the event at an elementary school, they filled over 10,000 eggs with candy and prizes.
“Not only do we get to love our community, we also learn the value of serving as a church family,” Abundant Life’s Senior Pastor Bob Bankhead affirms. “From our preschoolers to the grandparents, we all get to help and be a part of this special ministry opportunity to our community. We are already planning for Easter 2013 and expecting an even greater response.”
Senior Pastor Clayton Robinson and his congregation, The Connection (Lake Forest Foursquare Church) in Lake Forest, Calif., made a generous gesture on Easter Sunday to help disenfranchised people in their community. For each person who attended Easter services, the church paid for a meal for a homeless person. When a check representing the total amount of meals was held up, everyone cheered—without being asked for anything, guests were helping the homeless simply by attending Easter Sunday.
For several weeks leading up to Easter, The Connection held free art classes for children in the community and also set up a table in the city’s main shopping mall to offer prayer for anyone who wanted it, which Clayton says opened up many opportunities for dialog and ministry.
On Easter Sunday, to reach the area’s children and families, the church hosted a free breakfast, an Easter egg roll, pony rides, a petting zoo and a bounce house, and served snow cones.
“To our amazement, so many people came to Christ and have now declared The Connection as their church that we no longer can fit into our worship center,” Clayton shares. “We are scrambling to catch up to what God is doing in Lake Forest!”
The Washington Post ran a cover photo that featured Capital Church's annual Lincoln Memorial sunrise Easter service. The Post reports that the Foursquare church based in Vienna, Va., that usually hosts 300 people "swells to several thousand during the outdoor Easter service."
Angelus Temple Hispanic Foursquare Church in the heart of Los Angeles is also working to keep up with how fast the Holy Spirit is working following their Easter outreach. Senior Pastor Raymundo Diaz says that it was amazing to see entire families coming to Christ all at the same time.
More than 2,000 people attended the congregation’s outreach in nearby Lincoln Park, Raymundo reports, and 617 made first-time decisions for Christ. The following Sunday, a church plant was established in the area of the outreach to help disciple new believers, and 70 people attended the first service.
“The hearts of the people were so hungry to hear the gospel,” Raymundo recalls. “Truly, the harvest is ready.”
And he reminds us all of what it takes to reap that harvest.
“We, the church,” he asserts, “must go outside our walls to reach them.”
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer living in Sacramento, Calif.