Nicole Stark, a youth pastor at The Rock (Anaheim Foursquare Church) in Anaheim, Calif., hopes to see Angel Stadium filled to 90 percent capacity for a “Backyard Revival.” But her goal for the April 30 meeting isn’t to stage a big event—she wants to inspire attendees to tell others about Jesus.
The first-of-its-kind gathering draws from the story in John 4 about the woman at the well. Last year, Nicole says, God showed her how many people believed in Jesus simply because they heard about the woman’s meeting with Christ. Nicole felt the Lord ask her, “What if all it takes today is one genuine encounter with Christ for people to return to their workplaces, schools and families, and tell them about Jesus?”
“God was saying to the woman at the well, ‘I want to satisfy you, fill your thirst, and give you something the world can’t give,’” explains Nicole. “I believe that’s what God wants to do with our generation. We’ve been running and looking for things to satisfy us, but we’ve been coming up empty-handed.”
The origins of the upcoming gathering go back to 2019 when Nicole sensed the Holy Spirit telling her to “count the faithful.” The faithful were a group of four 20-something friends. After organizing a Zoom meeting, they started holding a series of small prayer meetings in Nicole’s backyard—the only kind of in-person gatherings possible during 2020 lockdowns.
Regular prayer led to the idea of a gathering where young adults could experience a genuine encounter with Jesus. They felt God leading them to book the 45,000-seat Angel Stadium as the venue. Though the original price was more than they could afford, stadium officials kept lowering the cost. Sound, lighting and other suppliers have also offered discounts, with a major Christian radio station doing free promotion.
“With this type of biblical alignment and passion, how could we not come alongside a team of young people boldly following God to see their generation follow Jesus? This is the goal of NextGen ministry!” — Marcus Ellington, National NextGen team lead
The NextGen national team sees this as an excellent opportunity to partner with the next generation.
“We believe in the mission of God expressed through the next generation of Christ-followers,” states Marcus Ellington, Foursquare’s National NextGen team lead. “With this type of biblical alignment and passion, how could we not come alongside a team of young people boldly following God to see their generation follow Jesus? This is the goal of NextGen ministry!”
Western District NextGen Coordinator Natalie Werking, and Communication and Event Coordinator Brittany Johnstone, are a part of a team coaching the organizers.
“This story is about five young people who set out to change their generation,” Natalie explains. “Everyone at the event will go home with a pocket-size journal, helping them to think through how to share their story. I’m excited about this because it’s organized and led by young people who want to make a difference.
“A young, single, immigrant woman, with a passion to reach a generation, might just start a movement,” she says with a wink, referencing the similarities between Nicole—who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines—and Foursquare Founder Aimee Semple McPherson, who immigrated to the U.S. from Canada.
Christian rapper Miles Minnick is the only big-name performer at the revival, which will include 40 minutes of praise and worship music followed by a sermon from 25-year-old Nicole.
With the onstage plan set and take-home prayer journals for all attendees ready to go, the biggest remaining need is for volunteers. “There is a robust plan to enlist pastors for 100 sections of the stadium and to have volunteers for specific types of prayer,” Natalie says. The NextGen coordinator says the most important thing about the Backyard Revival is not the event, but what happens afterward.
“They don’t want it to be about big names, them, or an organization,” Natalie states. “They just want people to encounter Jesus, and go home and do something about it.”