This holiday season, Foursquare churches nationwide will utilize the news of Christ’s birth to spread the gospel, reach out to the poor, bless missionaries and keep tradition alive.
The creative outreaches will include Family Christmas Blessing, conducted by Molalla Foursquare Church, located about 50 minutes south of Portland, Ore. Church members will purchase toys, games and other gifts for children from needy families, and then devote Dec. 21 to a fellowship dinner prior to wrapping and delivering presents.
“It is best described as organized chaos,” says Senior Pastor Barry Wood. “Reaching out to the community is as great a blessing [to us] as [to] those who receive the gifts. We are committed to ‘church outside the walls.’ This is our way of celebrating Christmas in a selfless way.”
Such selflessness will be expressed in many ways. Multiple churches will join with holiday drives such as Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, Foursquare Missions International‘s Bless A Missionary Family, and Toys for Tots, as well as local food banks and Salvation Army programs.
On Dec. 14, New Life Christian Fellowship (Encinitas Foursquare Church) in Encinitas, Calif., canceled its services to host another of its ongoing community outreach breakfasts. Says Pastor Michael Roberts: “We serve an average of 450 breakfasts at these events. Even though we’re a small church and they cost an average of $1,500, we’ve never had to pay anything for them because of outside donations.”
In southern Washington on Dec. 9, Battle Ground Foursquare Church sponsored its third annual Christmas party for about 30 students from an alternative middle school and their families. Co-Pastor Joy Russell says that despite administrators’ initial apprehensions, the events have gone well: “These are students who otherwise might not receive anything for Christmas.”
StreetLight (Elizabeth Foursquare Church) in Elizabeth, N.J., served a meal to more than 500 people in need on Dec. 14 before distributing bags of gifts. The church expects to give out 50 food boxes this month, as well. Co-Pastor Karen Yuschak comments: “We look at each guest as if he or she is the Lord. What a privilege it is to serve them.”
In Monticello, Ill., Open Hearts (Monticello Foursquare Church), co-pastored by Rodney and Samantha Burris, will present the gospel through a nativity and Christ-centered lawn displays. This year, they put a new twist on it by purchasing a transmitter so passing motorists can hear the Christmas story on their car radios.
Concern for the less fortunate extends beyond Christmas Day. New Life Foursquare Church (Laurel Foursquare Church) in Laurel, Mont., for example, is collecting food boxes to help families make it through the two-week Christmas break, when school lunches aren’t available to needy kids. Senior Pastor Jacob Schreiner sees this outward focus reaping results, along with prayer helping change hearts, to advance God’s kingdom and restore families.
“God is giving us favor in the hearts of our community,” Jacob says. “As people are catching God’s heart for this world, we are seeing a shift that has all of us excited.”
Others direct their December efforts toward the mission field. Members of Fairhaven Foursquare Church in Bellingham, Wash., pastored by Tamara Krantz, and Lewiston Foursquare Church in Lewiston, Idaho, pastored by Robert White, will be wrapping gifts at local stores, with funds going towards various missions causes.
Horizon (Victorville 2 Foursquare Church) in Victorville, Calif., pastored by Larry White, reaches out locally and globally. This month it will partner with the town of Baker—located on the edge of the Mojave National Preserve—to provide families with bags of household items and non-perishable foods.
But Horizon didn’t wait till the holiday season to help others. A pair of major fall fundraisers they conducted generated $2,200 toward an $8,000 goal. The funds will bring the president of Foursquare Bolivia and his family to Foursquare Connection 2015 in Anaheim, Calif.
East Valley Foursquare Church (Yakima Foursquare Church) in Yakima, Wash., pastored by David Edler, will be taking its fifth Gift to the World offering this month, with 2014’s proceeds going to buy medical equipment for a clinic in Kenya it funded several years ago. Funds also will go to a new Christian school in Pakistan, where it built a pastoral training school two years ago.
Thanks to Foursquare churches across the U.S., children and adults everywhere will receive the gift of God’s love this holiday season.
In East Helena, Mont., Helena Valley Faith Center (East Helena Foursquare Church), pastored by Jeff Richards, will celebrate Advent with its “hybrid” version of Advent Conspiracy and Foursquare Missions International’s Bless A Missionary Family project. Each week, Helena Valley will highlight a Foursquare missionary or local organization and take a special offering, asking people to also write accompanying greetings in cards for Foursquare missionaries serving worldwide.
After hosting its 30th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast for a crowd of 170 this fall, Vista Christian Fellowship (Vista Foursquare Church) in Vista, Calif., pastored by Roger Friend, will sponsor a women’s Christmas Dessert Social that will include unchurched friends and relatives. And instead of a traditional Christmas service, the Southern California church is hosting a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” party.
After gathering to sing carols and watch a special DVD, people will fan out to decorate cookies, make popcorn balls and experience other Christmas traditions. Many Christmas traditions are fading in modern life, Roger notes, and he says they are particularly important to the fatherless families joining the church.
“We had heard from our own grown children that these ‘carried on traditions’ are like an anchor,” Roger says. “They give fuller life-meaning to the differing family seasons. So we want to start incorporating these into the lives of all children here.”
Thanks to Foursquare churches like these across the U.S., children and adults everywhere will receive the gift of God’s love this holiday season.