Day 7: Bible Club



It was 1996, and I was still dating James and living in the dorms while I worked on my accounting degree at WTAMU.  James’s dad, Don Lane, had just had a life saving liver transplant and found an old building in downtown Amarillo that was a perfect place to start the ministry in.

As Citychurch began, immediately we started having Sunday morning services in the building, and Don decided our first outreach would be focused on kids.

The very first Citychurch Bible Club was in October of 1996.  We picked up about 12 kids from the area of housing northeast of the church in the Lane family’s personal vehicles.  Don had spent the last of his food stamps on candy, and his daughter Anna baked cookies.  Rita Carpenter from Child Evangelism Fellowship had volunteered to teach.  Handing out cookies after the lesson, we realized they were hungry.  That was the last time we would pick kids up without providing a real meal.  Don knew that the children could not be expected to listen to stories about Jesus while they fidgeted in their seats with grumbles of hunger.

That first Bible club, a young boy named Manuel asked Jesus into his heart.

God had blessed our first effort.

It is hard for me to believe that it is almost 19 years ago to the day from that first Bible club.  After 19 years, Bible Club is still Citychurch’s most effective outreach.

Today as I write this, I’m thinking about this afternoon when I will go to the northeast side of Amarillo and teach at a Bible Club.

I’ve been helping at this particular Bible Club for over 3 years now.  We teach them in a small church adjacent to the elementary school.  For the past few years, we have had about 50-60 kids, and we split the them into two classes, older and younger.

This school year we’ve been averaging 100 kids from just that one elementary school.  We’ve had to divide into four classes.  I have the 2nd graders.  We are teaching them through the new testament, covering a book of the Bible each week.

Citychurch’s Children’s Director, De-An Turner, does an amazing job coordinating classes, volunteers, and keeping records.  She makes copies, gathers supplies, writes out name-tags, and transports snacks, including the meal sacks that we hand each week.

Citychurch has other outreaches that are glitzier and get more attention.  The feeding ministry, the bike delivery ministry, the Christmas box ministry, the youth ministry, our Jesus Loves You Celebration in the park are all amazing ministries, and when I tell people about them, I see an excitement in their eyes.

But our Bible Club ministry is honestly less exciting.  The news will never show up for a story on Bible Clubs.  It is the treadmill of ministries.  It takes a slow, steady dedication.  We have Bible Clubs all school year long at that time of the day when everyone is sluggish.  It is right after school at 3:00, the hour of the day that causes companies like 5 Hour Energy and Red Bull to exist.

I love teaching the kids, and I feel confident in my ability to do so.  But when I think back to our very first Bible Club, I didn’t have any confidence then.

That first Bible Club 19 years ago, we had 12 kids attend.  As the weeks went on, more and more kids wanted to come.  We went from 12 kids to 20 to 50 to 100.  That forth week of Bible club, Rita yelled a lesson over 100 kids sitting on the tile floor of what is now our Citychurch dining room.

We had to change plans.  

We recruited volunteers and began splitting them into classes by age.  

Honestly, our old downtown building was not ready for this growth.  We had enormous empty rooms, and we tried partitioning off classrooms with the wood paneling we took off the walls upstairs, propped up with folding chairs.

I remember one lesson was interrupted when a kid bumped a chair and the sheet of wood paneling slowly came falling down towards us.

Thank the Lord that no one was harmed in those early years in the rough and tumble building.

As we split kids into classes, there was even a class meeting in the upstairs room that James’s family was using as a house.  The kids would set in a circle for Bible club at the foot of Don’s bed as a volunteer would teach them.

When we split up for classes, I felt unprepared to teach even the simplest Bible lesson, so I volunteered to be the craft lady.  I was paired up with an elderly lady named Mary, and we were given the 3rd and 4th graders.

I had been a councilor at a Girl Scout camp the summer after high school, I had worked at a daycare the next summer.  I felt like I probably could come up with a craft or activity each week.

One week I thought it would be fun to do something we had done at the daycare.  I bought shaving cream for the kids to draw in.  We sat the kids down at a table and sprayed a blob of shaving cream in front of them.  Our eyes got big as we saw the white shaving cream turn black.  I had turned craft time into bath time.  The towels we cleaned up with would never be the same.

Looking back after being a home school teacher for 13 years now, I really didn’t know anything about crafts for kids.  I knew as much about kid crafts as I did teaching the Bible.  I wish I had been brave enough to step out and try teaching the kids’ Bible lessons.

I know now that I would have learned, gotten better, and it would have been good for me.

It would be a couple years before I even volunteered to teach at all, and a lot more years before I start teaching consistently.

If you are reading this feeling unqualified to share or teach Bible lessons, studies, devotions, or Sunday school.  Please be brave and step out.

The book of James says not all should become teachers, and if you are gifted in other areas besides teaching, the kingdom needs that gift too.  My goal isn’t to shame anyone.  Spiritual gifts aren’t ranked by importance in His sight.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
— James 3:1 ESV

But I’m sure there are excellent teachers holding back out of the same insecurities I felt after being a Christian for almost a decade.

The truth is that if God calls you, he will equip you. 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
— Esther 4:14 ESV
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV




I like to include a song with each blog post, because music is the best.  Starting ministry in downtown Amarillo, one of the first things James and his brother Donnie did was find Christian hip-hop music that would relate to the kids.  Here's some 20 year old Christian music.  This was an early Citychurch hit.  We still bump Christian hip-hop that the kids at Citychurch will enjoy.  This Friday we are taking the youth to a Christian hip-hop concert that will feature Andy Mineo, Propaganda, and Mali Music.