What: Child Evangelism Fellowship will host a luncheon for church leaders
When: 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Feb. 28
Where: Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church at 1734 E. Third St.
Cost: There is no cost to attend, but reservations are required by Feb. 24. Call 423-622-1737
For decades, Child Evangelism Fellowship hired missionaries to teach summer Bible clubs throughout Chattanooga. The problem was that when the missionaries left, there was little follow-up with youth.
This year, the nonprofit organization is attempting to fix that problem by partnering with local churches and training their young people to conduct the Bible clubs. Churches then will be responsible for following up with participants to see if they have questions or if they want to start attending a church.
Child Evangelism Fellowship calls the program Christian Youth in Action, and is inviting local pastors and youth ministers to a free luncheon this month to hear about the idea. The luncheon will be Feb. 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church. Reservations are required by Feb. 24.
"A lot of churches tell us that we want to reach our community for Christ, but we don't know how," said Patti Harris, executive director of the organization. "And so what we're going to do is train them and give them the tools they need so they can reach their community for Christ."
The organization wants youth ministers to suggest from two to 10 young people between ages 16 and 21 from their congregations who have a heart for sharing Christianity and working with children.
It's important that the youth want to work in ministry, because when the training is over they will be expected to lead Bible clubs. The Bible clubs will operate like vacation bible school, organizers said.
The organization will send the youth to Gallatin, outside of Nashville, for a week of training, and is asking churches or parents to pay that $300 cost.
Scholarships are available for youth from churches that aren't financially able to send them, organizers said.
Eighteen-year-old Emily Pyle and her brother, Seth, will lead Bible clubs this summer.
The club lasts for only one hour, but within that time leaders tell children a Bible story, sing songs, play games, learn a Bible verse and have a snack. Bible clubs usually operate for a week at a time.
"A big part is getting everything smooth and connected together," Emily Pyle said. "Keeping their attention with games and songs."
Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church officials were so enthusiastic about the training that church leaders offered to host the luncheon and already have selected youth to send for training.
The Rev. Charlotte S. Williams, pastor of Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church, is interested but she wants Bible lessons relevant to youth who live in her area.
"So often we don't think about it, but you're going into a predominately African American community and if there are pictures, everybody in the picture is white including the angels, the prophets and the Messiah, so the children don't see themselves," she said. "If we are made in his image, why don't I see that?"
She said she hopes the Bible lessons will speak to challenges many young people face because they come from different cultures and have low incomes.
"I hope they will have persons who not only talk about the Bible," she said, "but will be able to walk into the neighborhoods and speak into those children's lives and give them a sense of somebodyness."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.