By Shari Hawkins and Kim Yetterberg
The following are some tips to help you start and develop a great Bible Club at your local elementary school. God has many blessings in store for your journey. We have always been amazed at how God worked. Hopefully the following ideas will give you some guidelines to create your own Bible Club.
Approaching the School Administration
1. Pray before you approach the school principal. Take another parent if it makes you feel more comfortable.
2. Explain that you would like to start a nondenominational Bible Club during non-school hours.
3. Have a copy of legal documentation to give to the principal. Explain that you want to make sure your club operates within the law and that you have made a copy for him or her to keep.
4. Ask what school space would be appropriate so that the club does not interfere with other school activities. (The principal and I brainstormed and came up with the PTA portable building. It was used to store PTA items and was empty most of the time. We did try to use a teacher's classroom, but it was hard to get the desks rearranged in time for the incoming students. The library or gym might be another possibility.)
5. Tell the principal that part of the purpose of the club is to teach children good character and that one of the character traits you want to instill is serving others. The first service project could be providing flavored coffees and donuts or bagels at a school-sponsored teachers' workshop. Ask if there is an activity coming up where you could provide the refreshments. A principal will probably be happy for the offer, giving him or her one less thing to organize. Our teachers were very appreciative of the snacks provided by the club. This is a great way to build positive relationships with the school staff.
6. The principal will probably want a teacher or two to be sponsors for the club. They monitor the meetings. Schools like the accountability, so have a teacher or parent fulfill this role.
Tips for the Bible Club
1. Keep the club nondenominational (i.e., methods of baptism and speaking in tongues are not discussed). Stick to the basics of the Christian faith.
2. We found meeting 20-30 minutes before school starts is the best time. After-school times don't work because so many students have to leave for day care and school buses. Tuesday proved to be the best day for us. We meet once a week.
3. We usually have a 15-minute devotion or message. We have encouraged children to volunteer to prepare pre-approved lessons or help with object lessons. This encourages leadership qualities. The last five minutes are devoted to prayer requests. We gather in a circle and take prayer requests. A parent sponsor prays with the children. (Be careful...once we allowed a child to lead prayer and we didn't know she was a Buddhist. She started praying to Buddha.)
4. You must provide permission slips for children to attend the club. (We include the day and time of the meetings, the names of the teacher sponsors, and the names and phone numbers of the parent sponsors, with a place for the child's name, address, phone number and parents' signature.) Usually the principal of the school will require the slip. If children want to invite a friend, give them a permission slip for their friend. We announce this at the end of every Bible Club time and pass out permission slips as children are leaving.
5. Make it fun! We do lots of hands-on object lessons. Once a month we show a Christian video and serve donuts.
6. We purchased club T-shirts. The children can wear them on Mondays to advertise for Tuesday's club meeting on campus. You don't have to do this. However, it is a great way to advertise on campus.
7. Our club does a monthly service project to show appreciation for the school staff. Here are some examples:
- Provide donuts for safety patrol kids.
- Provide a carnation for each teacher. Each child may draw his or her hand and cut it out and attach a preprinted card that says, "Jesus loves you and so does the Bible Club." Then attach these to each carnation.
- Make a large card and have all the Bible Club students sign it. Give the card to the administration office staff along with some baked goods in gift baskets provided by the Bible Club students' moms.
- Cafeteria workers and janitors are other groups to show appreciation to.
Thanks to Shari and Kim for sharing these tips that worked for them as they started their Bible Club in San Antonio, Texas.