Foursquare churches have wrapped up their summertime camp ministries, missions trips and outreaches, and are ready to launch into the back-to-school season—a time of year ripe with fresh opportunities and new vision. Even though the fall can be a busy time for families, the routine of school and extracurricular activities offers unique prospects for reaching young people.
Some churches are teaching young people—literally educating kids through Christian schools—while others are initiating innovative outreaches. But no matter what vision or strategy is promoted, one thing is true: Foursquare congregations are reaching out to students, and the salvation message of Jesus is being preached in creative and practical ways.
Educating Kids and Teens
New Life Christian School (NLCS), situated on the 22-acre campus of New Life (Frederick Foursquare Church) in Frederick, Md., has a long and successful history of raising up disciples and leaders. The school will celebrate its 25-year anniversary this September. Currently, NLCS serves 248 students grades K-12.
New Life’s founding pastor, Lloyd Fuss, began the school 25 years ago when the congregation felt a burden to provide an avenue of discipleship for families who desired Christian education. Jason Burrell, the academy’s headmaster, explains that the school’s mission is to disciple young kids into a full knowledge and acceptance of the salvation message.
“In 25 years, we have successfully graduated 300 students,” says Jason. “We recognize that with every graduating class, we are sending out well trained ‘ambassadors’ and ‘missionaries’ into all areas of life who are equipped to face life’s challenges and hold the light of Jesus out to others.”
Last year, NLCS was approved by the Department of Homeland Security to launch an international student program. The school is expanding its reach from the local community out to the world.
“We can’t send all of our students overseas,” explains Jason, “so bringing five or six students to Frederick from different parts of the world gives us a special opportunity to interact with different cultures. We want to provide an avenue for both the foreigners and the local students to learn from each other and gain a cross-cultural perspective.”
This year, six international students have enrolled in the school: three students from Korea, one from Guatemala, one from Uganda and another from Brazil.
Reaching Youth in the Community
Beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, lots of churches are finding ways to fill the practical needs of their communities with genuine love. The back-to-school season is a time when our society traditionally makes more room for family, and when the church can take advantage of a window of opportunity to care for kids.
In Simi Valley, Calif., New Hope Christian Fellowship (Simi Valley 2 Foursquare Church) launched their Backpack Blessing giveaway for the first time this year. Church families donated school supplies and 800 backpacks for families struggling with the financial pressures of back-to-school shopping. The backpacks were given away during a special outreach service on August 19.
Families from the community, most of which had never been to New Hope Christian Fellowship before, received new backpacks filled with supplies. The giveaway was coupled with a hot meal, and every family was sent home with a bag of groceries and useful information on family resources in the church.
“We gave away 500 backpacks on Sunday, but we’re not done yet,” notes Senior Pastor James Craft. “We are excited to donate the other 300 backpacks to the local schools to be distributed to other needy kids.
“My heart is filled with joy in seeing our church team come together and care for people, and fulfill such great need,” James continues. “We saw 32 people give their hearts to Christ on Sunday. It was an incredible outpouring of God, and we are excited about the fall and our opportunity for ministry.”
In Bismarck N.D., New Song Community Church (Bismarck Foursquare Church) kicks off the school year with a traditional Back to School Bash. The bash is a social outreach—designed to serve and bless the community, and demonstrate that the church cares about the needs of the whole community.
“We just want to pump the kids up, bless them, encourage them and use the opportunity to invite kids to other events that our church puts on throughout the year,” explains Senior Pastor Kurt Chaffee. “We rent a 500-foot waterslide, provide lots of food and music, and show a drive-in movie in the park on a large screen.”
The church also kicks off the school year by providing a free lunch to students at the nearby high school. Once a week, Kurt estimates that about 300 students walk to the church for the homemade lunch. Providing free food creates an opportunity to build social bridges with the teenagers that paves the way for more honest discussions about the gospel.
Christian Assembly (Missoula Foursquare Church) in Missoula, Mont., has a vision to meet the needs of families by providing a dynamic after-school program where kids can participate in a popular extracurricular activity: archery.
On September 1, Ken Wise—who serves as an assisting minister at Christian Assembly as well as on the staff of the Great Northern District—and his team of volunteers from the church launched the Centershot Ministries archery program. This outreach ministry uses archery as a tool to lead children to Christ.
The mission of Centershot Ministries is to “[make] Christ the target of your life.” Ken explains that after the students practice skill development and shooting, they are guided through Bible devotions based on archery principles. The program introduces a salvation message based on the analogy that everyone has “missed the mark” and needs Jesus to help stay on “target.” Their prayerful goal is to see 100 salvations this calendar year.
Impacting the Nations
Thinking globally, Foursquare has a window of opportunity every school year to reach foreign students that come to be educated in American colleges.
New Horizons (Radford Foursquare Church) in Radford, Va., is one church that has a vision for reaching international students. Volunteers meet and greet foreign students who arrive from other countries every fall. Church members pick up students at the airport, take them shopping at Walmart or run errands for them.
The congregation also works in partnership with the international student office at Radford University, providing lunch for their international student orientation. Families from the church sponsor welcome baskets for every student, filled with an assortment of items that students need in a dorm room but can’t bring from oversees, such as towels, laundry detergent, school supplies and lamps. The church also invites the international students to an “all American” barbeque during the first week of school.
“If we are the first person they have a connection to when they arrive in the States, it helps us develop relationship right away,” explains Renee Hidalgo, an assisting minister at New Life. “Once the students feel cared for, they are often willing to come to church events throughout the year, where we can share the gospel in a relational setting.”