It's no secret that within the walls of American public education, biblical values and principles are no longer welcomed. I have accurately heard the public high school system referred to a mission field, but what are we doing to reach these teens?
During my first year in youth ministry, I was asked to begin looking into starting a Bible club on a nearby public high school campus. For me, this was a daunting task—especially since public education was so foreign to me. From kindergarten through twelfth grade, I attended the same Christian school.
By God’s grace, we were able to start two clubs in one year. And now, our student ministry staff helps to conduct four Christian clubs on nearby high school campuses.
In the next three posts, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned while starting these clubs.
- Starting a Christian Bible Club
- Leading a Christian Bible Club
- Maintaining a Christian Bible Club
Part One: Starting a Christian Bible Club
Begin with Prayer
I know this seems elementary, but in reality, I believe this is the most important aspect of starting a public high school ministry. In these next few posts I hope to share some practical advice on how to start a Christian club, but ultimately it is God who will open the doors opportunity.
I won’t take the time, but I could share numerous stories of how God answered some very specific prayers in amazing ways.
Collect Key Information
If you're looking to begin a club from scratch, you'll need to begin collecting as much information as possible. Later, you'll use this information to put together a strategic plan. Here is some information that you'll need to get:
- General School Information
Take an hour, hop online if you need to, and identify which schools are in your area.
- Names of Students, Teachers, Coaches, and Administration
As you share your burden to begin a club, people will start sending you names of potential sponsors and students. This is very important, because most likely you, as an outside youth pastor, will not be able to start the club yourself. You will need a student leader to act as the club president, and sponsor who is willing to provide a classroom and some oversight.
Begin Meeting with Potential Sponsors and Club Leaders
Now that you've collected the names of potential sponsors and student leaders, set up meetings with them to discuss the specifics of the club. We usually hold this initial meeting after school in the potential sponsor's classroom.
Make sure you catch their heartbeat first. The teacher's I've met with in the past have a good feel for what will work and what won't when it comes to launching a club in their school. Here are some things you will want to decide with the teacher & student leader:
- Determine A Club Meeting Time
You have three options here: before school, during lunch, or after school. All four of our clubs are conducted after school for a couple reasons.
1. No one likes to get up early—so we ruled out the early morning club.
2. Many of the larger school campuses have multiple lunch hours making it difficult for students to attend at the same time. After school has been the best option for us, however some students who are involved in extracurricular sports etc., are unable to attend.
- Create a Club Constitution
Each school is unique, but generally the student leader or club president must present a club constitution before the student body counsel. In some cases, we have been able to simply register the club with the activities office.
- Establish a Timeline
Once you’ve decided on the specifics of the club (location, time, curriculum, etc.) establish a clear timeline of events leading to the launch date—and stick to it!
Promote the Club
Before you launch the club, you’ve got to get the word out. You will need to rely heavily on your student leader and teacher sponsors since they are on campus more than you. Here are some ideas:
- Word of mouth
- Sunday school bulletin
- Public school announcements
- Posters on campus bulletin boards
Do your homework and find out if the school needs to approve any of these methods. If you know of students who attend that school, encourage them to help promote the launch and invite their friends.
I highly recommended reading Dr. Gibb’s book, Keeping Christ in the Public Schools. This book clearly outlines the Christian rights our students have in the public school system.
You can spend entire year trying to perfect your plan, but at some point, you've got to set a date, stick to it, and launch. Oh yeah, don't forget the pizza. The club launch will most likely flop without it. In the next post we'll cover the logistics of ordering enough pizza for the club…