How to Start a Christian Club
Pray. This is the first step—and last, and every step in between—toward starting a club. Ask God to lead you, to pave the way, and to draw other students to the club.
Recruit. You can start a club alone, but it's better to have a small group of students to help. Actively seek the support of parents, youth leaders and at least one faculty member, though none of them can play a leadership role if the group meets on a public school campus.
Plan. Don't rush. Define a purpose for the club. Ask: Why do I want to do this? What are my goals? What will we do at meetings? Bible study? Sing? Pray? Socialize? Should we invite non-Christians to attend? When will we meet? Where? How often? How long will meetings last? Ask your youth leader, or another wise adult, to help in this process.
Observe. If possible, visit a Christian club at another school. Learn what works, and what doesn't. Ask that club's student leaders for advice.
Consult. Discuss your plans with your school principal. Ask if there are any school rules about clubs; you might need a "constitution" or mission statement. Be confident, but not combative. Your tone should be "when and where can we do this?" not "we're going to do this or else." At the same time, your tone should not be "may we do this?" because the law clearly says you can.
Know. Understand your legal rights. The Equal Access Act gives students the freedom to hold religious meetings on campus, as long as the group is student-led. (For more on Equal Access and your rights, see the Web sites below.)
Finance. Ask the adults you've recruited if they'll donate to the club's treasury. It'll cost some money to get the club started—fliers and posters to promote it, study materials for meetings, and, of course, munchies!
Promote. Get the word out—by word-of-mouth, fliers, posters, the P.A. system, by whatever means school policy allows. The Equal Access Act only applies to your right to meet, not to how you promote the club. You don't have a legal right to use school facilities—the P.A., bulletin boards, posters on walls—to promote the club. That's dependent on school policy. If policy bans those avenues, you still have the right to hand out fliers promoting the club and, of course, to talk about it, though not during class. (If other non-official clubs are using school facilities for promotion, yours can too; school policy can't discriminate against yours because it's religious.) Finally, don't forget the goodies—juice and donuts, pop and pizza.
Meet! Now it's time for your first meeting! Don't worry about having a 45-minute Bible study. Your first meeting should probably be more of a social event, where people get to know each other and discuss why they're there. Be willing to adjust your long-range plans to accommodate the wants and needs of the group. End the meeting by reading a Scripture passage and praying for one another.
Press on. Your second meeting will likely be smaller than the first, but don't be discouraged. Some students may attend the first meeting just to check it out, then quit coming. Pray for them, and continue to meet and promote your club. Don't worry about numbers; these things usually start small. God isn't interested in the size of your group; he just wants your heart, your obedience and your faithfulness to him.
Copyright © 2000 by the author or Christianity Today/Campus Life magazine.
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