The CEF challenge: Evangelizing in schools
While some people are saying we should abandon the public schools, others are saying now is the time to advance the Good News of Jesus Christ. Everyone agrees the public school system is not what it is supposed to be, but not everyone agrees what to do about it. Many voices have recently been heard to say we need to evacuate and abandon the public schools and send our children to other alternatives. Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) says now is the time to evangelize and reach the “Generation Next” with the Gospel.
Everyone knows the public schools have children who don’t know Jesus Christ but did you know that, according to George Barna, one out of ten of our 8th graders smoke? Did you know that one out of three of our 8th graders were drunk at least once in the past year? Does it concern you that 10 percent of our teens have had sexual intercourse prior to the age of 13? Do you have a way to reach the one out of five 8th graders that have used drugs in the past year? Is it time to run and hide?
Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Executive Vice President Marshall Pennell and Matt Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel and dean of the School of Law at Liberty University, say “No!” CEF has realized that 75-80 percent of children today do not attend church or Sunday School. They also know that about 85 percent of those that receive Jesus as their Savior do so between the ages of four and 14. Matt Staver was the keynote speaker for the event and he very strongly supports the efforts of CEF.
On March 1 CEF invited several Christian leaders to the Marriott West banquet hall to hear about a vision, a plan and a challenge to reach the almost 164,000 elementary public school children in the greater St. Louis metro area. Each attendee was given a folder of information about CEF and their “Generation Next Challenge.”
The Project Overview says, “On June 11, 2001 an event took place that has the potential to change our country forever. The USA Supreme Court brought a majority ruling in a case involving the CEF Good News Club that allows Christian organizations to go into the public elementary schools of our country and teach the Bible in after-school programs.” The case was the Good News Club v. Milford Central School District and it involved an adult-initiated and adult-led after-school religious club sponsored by CEF.
CEF is offering free initial and ongoing training to groups and churches who wish to begin a Good News Club in a local elementary school. The Good News Club meets once per week for about an hour to an hour and a half using a team of five to ten adults. The average cost is estimated at $325-$1,025 per year depending on the amount and type of snacks offered. And best of all, they meet in the public school building immediately after the school day.
To learn more about how you can be involved in the Generation Next Challenge in the St. Louis metro area, contact Dave Howe, director, at his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are outside the St. Louis metro area and need more information you may contact Child Evangelism Fellowship, PO Box 348, Warrenton, MO 63383. You may also call them at: 800-200-4033 or visit their website at: www.cefonline.com. (Bruce Tegg is associate pastor of education, family and youth at First Baptist Church, Lemay.)