I have been a youth pastor for one year now and one of my constant challenges is finding material that connects to my students! I have always been so proud to be associated with Foursquare as a denomination, but whenever it came to asking my students about Foursquare they didn’t quite know what was up. Our youth group attended Summer Camp with SoCal NextGen this year and learned all about the Foursquare values through amazing speakers like Ashton Fish, Jennifer Thigpenn, Fernando Morales, and Cheyne Jackson. But when we got home I knew that we needed to chew all the information, digest it, and put it into practice in our own context. I was so happy that SoCal NextGen equipped us with SQUAD Books and a video series. We jumped into the series with none of the kids being able to tell me the Foursquare distinctives-even while wearing their SQUAD t-shirts (with the symbols on them!!). I realized that just because the kids had heard the information before didn’t mean that they had been talking about it consistently or using the gifts we had heard about. So for 4 weeks we set out to understand what it means to have access to Jesus as our Savior, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon and Coming King. Our first week we had a student accept Jesus as their Savior and by week 3 all of our students were proclaiming healing over one another. One of my students texted me during the following week to check on my nausea (a prayer request I had) and I was so proud of her! Our teenagers love to lay hands on and pray for one another but we often have to teach them how to “land the plane.” We can’t just have highly emotional moments with individuals and forget about the discipleship that happens afterward. I find that this is why so many young people walk away from the church. They have an “emotionally-charged” encounter with God and no follow up, no accountability, no spiritual growth. So we continued to talk over the next few weeks. Students got vulnerable and I started to see the very values that our church was founded on connecting to their hearts and spirits. We ended our month of the SQUAD Series by attending City Camp where I saw the overflow of my student’s hearts. They kneeled in worship asking God for more and came up to the altar to confess their sins to one another. Sometimes we neglect the basics because we assume our youth group already has that down pat. But I think there is amazing growth when we dig deep into the truths of our Lord and invite the next generation to step into the spirit-filled life.
Written by: Mary Willians
Youth Pastor at Vintage Faith Foursquare Church in Culver City, CA