A Word From Steve Jones
January 15th, 2018
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… The great London pastor of Westminster Chapel, G. Campbell Morgan (pictured to the left), said that the local church that sought to win children to Christ was a local church that is “seeking the Kingdom… a vision of the desire for the Kingdom of God is the master passion in all work for children.” I think Morgan’s strong statement was a reflection of Jesus’ own words in Mark10:14, which Morgan described as the “Magna Carta for Children”.
About a month ago I asked you to respond to my call to hear stories of outreach to kids and youth among our churches. Thanks to the many who did respond.
The following are a few of the examples of children’s outreach initiatives that our Fellowship Churches undertook this past summer. Be encouraged by the responses below:
“Our church owns and operates a number of low-income/non-profit housing complexes in the community. Our summer ministry focus is really on the kids in these complexes. For the last two summers, our interns, Payton and Emily, have run backyard camps, afternoon clubs, sports nights, girls movie nights and more in an attempt to build relationships with the kids and share the Gospel with them. A number of these kids have transitioned into our church’s mid-week children and youth programming and are becoming more connected to the greater church body. We will never truly know the impact of the seeds these girls and others in the church have been planting. We continue to share the Gospel and pray that their eyes would be opened to their need for a Saviour.”
—Eastwood Fellowship Baptist, St. Thomas, ON
“We ran two weeks of full-day day camp for children from JK-Grade 5 and had 42 children say “yes” to Jesus! We ran only one week of full-day Youth Camp for Grades 6-8, and had five girls say “yes” to Jesus! I spoke at Pleasant Bay Camp and had 24 children say “yes” to Jesus! A Total of 71 children in the month of July said “yes” to Jesus! I thank God that I could play a part in it.”
—Pastor Eric Veen, Bethel Baptist, Strathroy, ON
“Our Vacation Bible School this year had the highest registration it’s had in many years – 150 children registered and the average attendance each day was around 130 children. I believe this increase can be attributed to the outreach that begun in the elementary school across the street from our church this year. It started last fall when the principal of the school asked if there was a room in our church available for them to use as a body break room because all the rooms in the school were occupied. There was, and this provided an opportunity to ask the principal if there were any other ways our church could serve the community through the school. I was surprised by what he said they needed: listeners for children to read to! A request went out to our congregation and people responded. That was an easy need to meet!
“In the spring the principal called asking if we could help with an afterschool program on early dismissal days. At least once a month, the school dismissed the children at 1:00pm to provide teachers with time to plan or meet with parents. This could have been a more challenging need to meet, but with the help of Youth for Christ, we were able to provide an awesome program of games, crafts, and a snack. The beauty of this program was that it allowed us to share the love of Jesus; parents saw how much their children were enjoying themselves and it brought people into the church that otherwise wouldn’t have stepped through our doors. Because parents were now familiar with the church, they had no trouble sending their kids to VBS – we were overwhelmed, in a good way!”
—Belinda Irwin, Courtenay Fellowship Baptist, BC
“About four years ago, we had a look at ways to reach our community. We decided to focus our efforts on the elementary school about two blocks down the road. Some of the ways we have sought to build a bridge with them have been to put on a Christmas dinner for the school, with turkey and all the trimmings! We volunteered in their Breakfast Club and offered to provide a BBQ for their school carnival. Because we have built a trusting relationship, they allow us to pass out advertisements for our summer programs such as Soccer Camp, Summer Day Camp (VBS), and Sunnybrae Bible Camp. They also allow us to invite kids to our Junior Youth and after school Kids Clubs. The children are starting to talk about and recognize us as a safe place, and a place that cares about them. Many of the kids are coming to different activities and we have a chance to share the Gospel. I believe these efforts can really make a difference in kids’ lives.”
—Aaron Wilson, Emmanuel Baptist, Vernon, BC
“We have a large number of families who continually register their kids for our “Fun in the Son” program as well as our March Break VBS. What is also really cool is that they are great at encouraging other families to come too, families that aren’t attending Calvary. Some are attending other churches, but there are some who aren’t attending any church. These are families that we are on a first-name basis with that regularly express their excitement at what we provide for their children here at Calvary. It keeps them connected and helps us to continue building into them as a family.
“We have also seen some of these families begin attending Calvary and become a part of our GIFT ministry (Growing In Faith Together) which meets once a month. We have food, crafts, board games, sports, and music – all with the goal of having fun as a family and getting to know each other. Lots of the families coming out are from our camps. We get to do life together, and that’s pretty cool. We have gone from getting 40 people to over 100 people.”
—Pastor Andy Spencer, Calvary Baptist, Guelph, ON
“We did a free VBS again this year for the third year in a row and it was our biggest yet, with almost 130 kids some days. We have lots of support from the congregation in terms of helpers, décor and finances. We’ll use contacts from VBS to invite to AWANA, and try to connect with the parents. We did a VBS Sunday service and it was packed.
“We are blessed at South End to be close to two camping ministries: Word of Life Youth Camp and New Life Camp are “just down the road”, and both have significant support from the church. They are great places for our kids/teens to attend, and also our teens to minister there during the summer. They always come back changed and challenged from the opportunity!”
—Fiona Evison, South End Church, Owen Sound, ON
These are but a taste of the responses I received to my August “A Word from Steve” email. Thank you to everyone who responded, it was a tremendous encouragement to read about what the Lord is doing among our local churches in children’s evangelism.
Let’s not forget evangelism to adults
While reaching kids and teens for Christ is very important, let’s not forget to reach our adult neighbours as well. Here is a wonderful story.
This summer a small Fellowship church in the Laurentian Mountains (Quebec) hosted their third annual Pig Roast outreach (July 26). A JBEQ team (summer evangelistic team of young adults) had canvassed the area and helped prepare the outreach event. What a huge encouragement it was when 157 people showed up from the community and listened intently as a retired police officer shared his testimony, filled with energy, his love of God, and the Word of God. The next day, seven visitors from the Pig Roast came for their Sunday worship service and six of them made public professions of faith.
You can only imagine the encouragement this was to this small congregation and the JBEQ students. God is a missionary God. Let’s join the team.
This week (September 12-14) the annual Billy Graham Festival of Hope will be taking place in the Toronto area. Let’s pray, across Canada and around the world, for the lost to be saved and the saved to be revived. After 30 years I’m still praying for a pan-Canada revival. Please join me in prayer.
Have a blessed week,