It’s been a little over a year since the Lord allowed me to start holding Bible clubs for children on a missionary couples front porch, and after outgrowing that began meeting at the Church every afternoon. The Lord used that ministry to touch many lives, and it was always a joy to hear children excitedly ask if I would be having Bible club that day.
Since the school year started a few months ago however children haven’t been attending Bible club the way they used to. That by itself doesn’t bother me since I would rather have a few that really wanted to learn, the truly frustrating thing is a lot of the children who used to come faithfully have now become discipline problems. This doesn’t usually involve direct rebellion but an attempt to attract attention and make themselves look cool (run in and then out constantly, try to get me to chase them, shout at children from outside ect.)
Last Monday I stood in the Church and watched as large groups of children walked by (some who used to always attend) and in my heart knew it was time to make a change with Bible Club.
Now I understand that’s a very controversial statement so let me clarify what it doesn’t mean.
- It DOESN’T mean I am quitting the Bible club ministry
- It DOESN’T mean I’m going to ignore the children who do attend
- It DOESN’T mean I don’t believe God can change the hearts of Barrouallies children through Bible club
- It DOES mean Bible club will no longer be my main evangelistic ministry towards children
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed since Bible club started again was the amount of energy focused on things that I like to call “crowd control” (reminding of rules, rewarding good behavior, calling down those who aren’t obeying, removing some who refuse to obey) and how that takes away from the work of teaching.
It felt like at least 60% of my attention was on “keeping the kids under control” while 40% was on teaching the Gospel. And as more time was invested in crowd control instead of teaching my frustration level continued to grow, thankfully it never resulted in violence towards the kids, but admittedly they saw Mr. John get mad on more than one occasion.
Standing in the Church that afternoon watching the children walk by I had an important question to answer:
- Will I continue trying to reach the children primarily through Bible club?
- Or will I look for another ministry opportunity that makes teaching a focus instead administration?
Though it was hard in that moment I decided that Bible club would become a discipleship ministry for those who “truly wanted to learn” instead of an evangelistic outreach to the children who didn’t know Christ.
With the Lord’s help I’ve taken a more relaxed approach to evangelism by sharing a Bible story with children in the community using a flip-chart version of the tract “God’s Bridge to Eternal Life.” It takes a lot less time than Bible club and doesn’t always run smoothly (children have short attention spans) but allows me to focus on the Gospel instead of keeping everybody under control.
The truth is I miss focusing on Bible club (used to run two each day) and pray God will help it become an outreach again. But at the same time every ministry must be held with an “open hand” that allows God to change plans, and when doors of effectiveness temporarily close find the ones that He has opened.