On a Sunday evening, 23 Oct 2017, Wes White met with members at my church who were interested in working in a Good News Club. Wes came from his posting in Spain as church planter to accept the position of Missions Pastor at Williamsburg Community Chapel.
One purpose of the informal meeting was to introduce CEF staffers who would train and support the team. The other – and more important – subject was how a Good News Club at Matoaka Elementary fit into the church’s stated purpose.
With the Lord Jesus’ command to His followers in Matthew 28:19-20 as the starting point, Wes shared his vision of missions for The Chapel. What we heard was a clear, 4-point criteria for an effective evangelistic outreach ministry:
1. “Go” – Jesus sends His followers out to proclaim the gospel as they are going, to meet people where they live. (Acts 1:8)
This is very different from a “build it and they will come” mindset where we find ourselves content to invite folks to an activity at our church. That invitation is a good thing, but falls short of taking the Good News outside the church walls.
2. “ye… and make disciples” – Jesus asks his followers to be personally active in evangelism. That requires knowing how to share the gospel at any moment when an opportunity arises. (1 Peter 3:15)
Giving funds to send evangelists is wonderful and necessary. However, sending others does not fulfill the Lord’s command to you and to me.
3. “teaching them to observe all” – God’s desire is that His children mature in faith by learning His Word and spending time with Him in prayer. A plan for continued teaching is needed in any outreach.
Trusting Jesus as Savior is only the first step in a lifetime of becoming more like Him.
(1 Peter 3-4; James 1:25)
The last point Wes made is taken from a quote by Dr. Howard Hendricks, a noted Christian lecturer and teacher, who said, “If our faith doesn’t work at home, don’t export it.” This message was to families, emphasizing the need for developing healthy relationships at home before inviting others to faith in Christ. The principle is the same in missions:
4. Let’s be sure we are reaching our neighbors for Christ effectively here, in Williamsburg, first before we go farther afield. (Acts 1:8)
This will require each of us to learn how to share the gospel simply and confidently to friends and family before we volunteer for mission trips elsewhere.
The conclusion: based on these criteria, partnering with CEF and gathering a Good News Clubs team was a perfect fit and was Wes’ first initiative as Mission Pastor at The Chapel. Why?
- After-school Good News Clubs go to children where they already gather. Matoaka ES is one of 83 elementary schools here on the VA Peninsula – a largely unreached mission field of 43,000 children.
- CEF partners with churches: training members to share the gospel simply and effectively on a child’s level. Youth who are challenged to teach children in 5-Day Clubs and Party Clubs grow strong in their faith, so they can stand for the Lord when challenged.
- CEF curricula outline a dual message in each club lesson: 1) for the unsaved child, the need to trust Jesus as Savior and 2) a message for the saved child on how to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) Discipleship is built into song and memory verse explanations as well as in Bible lesson outlines.
- As adults and teens learn to share the gospel with children, the Lord will use their obedience and send them to neighbors, friends and family. Sharing Jesus with confidence becomes a way of life.
- Evangelistic missions to other cities, states and nations naturally follow when God’s people experience the joy of leading someone to faith.
Fast forward to February 2020. The Chapel now supports and makes up teams for 3 after-school Good News Clubs at Matoaka, JB Blayton, and Laurel Lane elementary schools. Over 25 volunteers from our church are active in outreach to children and school staff in the schools!
Let’s be sure we are reaching our neighbors for Christ effectively here, in Williamsburg,
Wes shared his vision for local missions, CEF trained and supported, God’s people were faithful to obey His call. Children’s lives are being changed! God is glorified!
John the Baptist was the first witness to Jesus’ glory and purpose, pointing others to “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) That is the mission of every believer. Assisting individuals AND churches in accomplishing that mission is what CEF has done for 82 years.
Written by Martha Clouse
GNC Coordinator at the Chapel and church member