We drove 750 miles with 840 Krispy Kreme donuts and 7 of us in the Enclave to make the 20th Anniversary celebration at Destiny Foursquare Church this weekend. Deanna and I were on staff for 9 years as co-youth pastors, starting back in 2001, when the church was just 3-years-old.

This church family is very special to us and has a lot of personal and deep roots for the Shoup family for several reasons. It’s always been a “church away from church” and still feels like family, even after having moved away almost 8 years ago now.

I first met Brent as a teenager. I was doing some music at our church’s Winter Faith Festival and he was, too. Towards the end of the event, the speaker for the conference had all the teenagers line up front and asked for adults to commit to praying and fasting for us for at least once a week for a year. Brent came and stood behind me. I found my picture on his fridge several years later from that time period where he had covered me in prayer.

I already looked up to Brent as a musician, so I was super pumped when I found out that he was a worship leader at a church in Pierre, SD, where our family was moving later that summer. For a short season, I got to be on the team with him there. That’s where he met Tani and then God called them to Rapid City to plant Destiny Foursquare. I was pretty bummed, at the time, to be losing someone I looked up to so much, but was happy for them, too. I was only 15 or 16 at the time.

When I moved to Pierre, that’s also where I met my future wife, and Brent ended up being one of the officiates that married us.

After graduating from Christ for the Nations Institute, God brought Deanna and I back to Pierre to take our first full-time ministry position. We were there for just a year and three months. We were hosting our first Valapalooza event there and God was doing some pretty cool things in student’s lives. That’s when my mentor in youth ministry, John Collins, who we had invited to speak at the event, put his hand on my shoulders and said to me, rather unexpectedly: “Get your resume ready.”

There was more to it, but that is mostly what I remembered because it seemed like such an odd time to hear that. God was moving so deeply in students’ lives — right in front of us — and THIS is the word that God had him share with me?!

Long story short(er), it was within a week that we received word that our position at that church was being terminated for various reasons (not related to performance). It was very unexpected. Thankfully, I had listened to John; I respected him and knew he heard God’s voice. My resume was updated and ready to go. John referred me to a couple of large churches that were looking for a youth pastor. They were both interested in hiring us, but then we heard that Brent and Tani were looking for youth pastors at Destiny as well. They had gone through a pile of applicants and were down to the final two.

We went out that weekend, resume ready and in hand, and God ended up saying “yes”. Our nine years at Destiny afforded us a lot of growth. We were young and inexperienced, but we saw God using Destiny to shape and mold us pretty significantly.

As I look back on our time at Destiny, I think there are a few things that stand out and make Destiny such a beloved place for us and many others: 

  • Passion-Filled, Spirit-led, Unashamed Worship

Probably anybody that loves Destiny, can point to this as one of the things they love. Brent and Tani have created a safe place for those that love to worship God with abandon. Worship is at full volume and full passion. Dancing, flag waving, and children engaging — and maybe even leading the way — in worship is commonplace.

In-house songs and prophetic words being released through worship is just part of the expected atmosphere. For those that want to worship with all your heart, Destiny is your place!

I can still remember my first Sunday on the team (“co-worship leader” was also in my job description). Brent pounded out one of his “on fire” solos on the keys — and I’m pretty sure that the keyboard was smoking after he finished. It was that good. Then he looked at me and said, “Take it, Shawn!” I was like a dear in the headlights — had absolutely no idea what to do! GULP!

I’m by no means at the same level as Brent Parker when it comes to musicianship, but I grew a ton in my confidence and ability playing with him and the Destiny team over the years.

  • An Absolutely Fun Place to Party 

I know this weekend is going to be a party because I’ve been around long enough to know how important it is for Tani to help set the atmosphere. From Chili-Chowdowns to annual birthday celebrations, Tani has always made them extra special by putting in a lot of thought, time and preparation.

Party weekends have always meant piles of Krispy Kreme donuts, party blowers, hats and poppers. Palm Sunday has always meant palm leaves waving in the hands of everybody walking through the door. And there are always special videos and service elements to go along with every celebration.

The kingdom of heaven is a party and that rings very true at Destiny!

  • A Safe and Celebrated Place for Releasing of the Gifts

I first learned to hear God’s prophetic voice at Destiny. I was encouraged to share what God was speaking to me for others. And so many others have been released, equipped and encouraged in the same way.

And we’ve heard God speak into our own lives so many times, too. The one that is sticking out to me right now is when the prophet, David Wagner, was going down the line and praying for everyone at the service one night. Deanna and I had just gone through several miscarriages (which he didn’t know anything about) and when he got to Deanna, he put his hands on her to speak and started praying about “sons of thunder”. It’s been several years since that word, but I couldn’t help but think about it now as Deanna and I are in the adoption process of bringing two little boys into the fold. Our two little “sons of thunder”.

God is good and faithful to bring his Word to completion.

I asked God for something to share that would speak into the heart of our Destiny family this weekend and this is what I believe I heard him saying:

As a NextGen pastor for so many years, I’ve told countless teenagers that to be at the place of “asking and seeking and knocking” is the best place in the world you can be. Destiny has been faithful, as a “teenager”, to be consistently and passionately seeking God. And maybe this is a bit too easy, but I really feel a “coming of age” anointing in the coming years.

Teenagers who have been faithful to learn and grow and seek at a young age will many times be exponentially more potent as they shift into their adult years — because of their faithfulness and willingness to pursue when they were young. I believe exponential will be a word that will define Destiny in this next season.

Exponential is “an increase, becoming more and more rapid.”

Exponential growth.

Exponential reach.

Exponential impact.

Exponential love.

Exponential grace.

Exponential Jesus at the center of it all.

Some of you may recognize the name Dan Sneed. He’s a good friend and mentor of Pastor Scott’s and to Pine Valley Church. He’s also recognized in our Foursquare denomination as a friend and close ministry parter to Pastor Jack Hayford.

A couple of week’s ago, Dan was visiting our area and Pastor Scott asked him to speak to our staff. He asked us about what we thought God was doing at Pine Valley and then closed our time together by saying, “I believe God is using Pine Valley Church to create a new template of grace for church ministry.”

Man! That resonated in my heart! And I see the same thing in Destiny’s DNA. Destiny is a place where grace and love is so extraordinary that it’s breaking the molds!

All that to say, I am super proud to be a part of the rich history of ministry and love at Destiny Foursquare Church and I can’t wait to celebrate 20 years tomorrow morning! 


Shawn Michael

Husband, father, musician, pastor, Internet junkie, and Foursquare District NextGen Rep for the Gateway District