Imagine 3,500 students from 16 countries and across the United States; imagine cross-country road trips, thousands of backpacks, Christian bands and Holy-Spirit anointed speakers all converging with those students in Anaheim, Calif., for one of the most impacting events ever in The Foursquare Church.
The Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07, a three-day event convening over New Year’s Eve weekend, offered students the opportunity to redefine their legacy, in light of society’s unfavorable characterization of their generation. Leaders of The Foursquare Church communicated clearly that there are people who believe in the next generation and recognize that these students can change their world as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The event gave these young leaders the opportunity to rewrite what history might otherwise have said about them.
During the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07, hosted by Foursquare NextGen national director James Craft and E! News correspondent Jason Kennedy, hundreds of lives were transformed. According to student response following the event, 499 people accepted Jesus Christ as personal savior, 520 were baptized with the Holy Spirit and 741 students acknowledged a call to ministry. Prayer leading up to the event, extraordinary planning with purpose and a focus on cultural relevancy all contributed to the life-changing decisions that were made.
“The world will be forever changed by the people here this weekend,” Matthew Barnett, pastor of Angelus Temple and director of the Dream Center in Los Angeles told attendees. “Imagine… what if the young woman who’s going to be the next Mother Teresa is sitting in here tonight?” Various speakers spoke of the need to embrace orphans, to stop human trafficking and to fight poverty—all in the name of Jesus Christ.
In much the same way as Jesus did during His earthly ministry, the students were encouraged to respond practically to pressing needs of their generation. “The gospel has to be more than fire insurance,” said relationship expert Lakita Garth as she challenged an arena full of students to offer the world the strongest testimony possible—their faith in action.
Foursquare president, Pastor Jack Hayford, challenged students with the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and encouraged them to be open and willing to respond as she did to God’s call. The students celebrated Pastor Jack’s spiritual role in the life of The Foursquare Church and embraced his right as their spiritual elder to speak into their lives. He spoke candidly about the intimate spiritual relationship every person can enjoy with God by the Holy Spirit. As with Mary, he said, God wants people to expect the miraculous, as they submit to His will for their lives.
Donald Miller told the students that every person has a distinct story to tell with his or her life. He said each person can change the world simply by allowing God to use the events—and even the pain—of his or her life to affect others.
Foursquare General Supervisor Glenn Burris Jr. spoke this blessing over the next generation: “I pray that you will be known for compassion to the needy, for a commitment to justice, for uncompromising character and for Christ-likeness, though surrounded by a world of desperation.”
The weekend included the stories of people who are already changing their world. A young female artist who serves as a Foursquare missionary in Africa told her story of spending time at Christmas singing carols about Jesus’ birth with Muslims. A teenage boy talked about starting Hoops of Hope, a free-throw-shooting fundraiser that is expected to raise $150,000 this year, part of which will help to build a medical lab in Zambia and provide health care for AIDS orphans. He started Hoops of Hope when he was in the fifth grade!
Foursquare minister and district supervisor Robb Hattem reflected on the event, saying, “As I participated in this summit, I realized that our generation hasn’t done such a good job of living for anyone other than ourselves. At a time of year when, more than ever, consumer religion is so often sought after, the message that was loudly, clearly, and prophetically given to this new generation is what profoundly rang in the New Year.”
Following the event, James Craft thanked all those who served so well at the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07. “Without a doubt,” he said, “God helped us achieve what we set out to do: ‘Imagine completely changed people completely changing the world!'”
Most sessions will be available for download at www.Foursquare.org in the coming weeks allowing youth groups around the world to experience the outstanding speakers from the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07. Visit youth.foursquare.org for more information on Foursquare NextGen National Ministries.