This post is written by Christian Learning Centers of Greenville County (CLC) Board Member, Donna Jackson. She attended the School Ministries Conference July 21 & 22 with several other CLC members. School Ministries, Inc. (SMI), is a nonprofit organization that was created in 1991 to assist local communities in the creation of Released Time Bible Education (RTBE) programs.
The School Ministries Conference I attended this year was a powerful presentation of several dynamic speakers who clearly shared the same vision. The ultimate goal of SMI is to serve the Lord and help bring the King, our Lord into children’s lives. All of the speakers shared the same concerns about our world today and the lack of church involvement, especially in our young people. The following statistics shared by presenters supply the evidence for CLC’s theme this year: Urgency!
1. 8 out of 10 young people are no longer going to church in America.
2. Not 1 County in the United states where Christianity is growing.
3. In some European countries, churches are completely gone in 1 generation.
The presenters shared their perspectives from various walks of life. A former government official stated that changes in our country will not come from the government leaders but from changes in the human heart. We need to love all people unconditionally in order to see the great commission take place. He shared the urgency of unity in our land especially in these days of violence and unrest in our communities. He made reference to the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the blueprints for living and loving like Christ. He reminded us that to change the world, God used ordinary people and did so with a small group of twelve disciples. Jesus poured himself into this “small band of brothers and sisters to instill love and unity”.
Four components are crucial to becoming agents of change:
1. Fellowship (Relationships)
2. praying together
3. Reading Scriptures together
4. Breaking bread together
I believe that these areas are very much a part of the release time program and a part of CLC’s mission.
We also heard from Educators who presented their views on the urgent need for unity in our programs in Christian organizations. We were given an in-depth look at a variety of curriculum that are available in Christian education. First of all recognize that the Bible is our curriculum. There are specific standards and goals that should follow the basics of “Backwards by Design”, Begin by starting with the end in mind. Several resources and curriculum were listed and sample goals were stated. This will be very beneficial for CLC as we look into new curriculum for our school programs.
One of the most informative presentations came from two attorneys from the Board that gave very pertinent facts and information related to our School Ministries Programs and the law. This team of lawyers shared that in accordance with Colosians 4:3, we should “pray for us that God will open a door for “utterance”. The doors for Christian ministries in schools has been opened however, the lawyers and the law are the door stops.
Their primary purpose is:
1. To protect children and make sure that you and the children are in a safe environment.
2. To protect the Gospel.
The Goal being to increase visibility and accountability which in turn will Decrease vulnerability and ability for wrong. Reference was made from one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson who stated the “Religion is a matter solely between man and God.” We were given specific guidelines to follow and court cases that have been won by young children who stood up for their civil rights to share the gospel in school.
The featured guest speaker known author of “The Truth Project” shared disturbing facts about the world in which we are now living. He stated that we are living in an atheistic society that no longer sees the truth being found in God’s word. Instead, this culture of today sees truth as whatever is generated in the human heart. Our country and our churches are not healthy. Overall, we are living in the land of “NO Ought” (Babylon) where our is culture no longer one that is governed by the principles found in the word of God.
The presenter left us with a great challenge, he stated that although we are living in turbulent times, you and I are in the midst of the greatest miracle. We are living with the hope of a remnant…because we are still here, God is not done with us.
Front Row: Nathaniel Butler, Janice Butler (CLC Executive Director), Katie Sarbacker (CLC Development Associate), Jean Lilley (CLC Northwest Middle Coordinator), Donna Jackson (CLC Board Member) Back Row: James O’Bryan (SM Chairman), Ken Breivik (SM Executive Director), Hunter Howard (SM Board Member), Avery Hilton (SM Board Member)
In all of the presentations, a common thread could be found that was consistent throughout. That is the importance of God’s word. Seeds that are planted in the hearts of children will grow and produce fruit. Testimonies from those whose lives were changed by the words found in the bible only helped to emphasize the crucial need to reach children in Release-Time programs and our spheres of influence. The Urgency to spread the Gospel in our world was made evident throughout the SMI Conference. I thank you for the opportunity to share in this awesome event that ministered to minds, hearts and souls.