First Baptist Church of Monahans has been actively involved in after-school ministry for five years. Judy Braswell, minister of Children, Education and Missions, began the ministry, and she continues to run it with a passion to this day.
Braswell first became interested in starting the program after she received a brochure from Kids Beach Club, a scripture-based after-school ministry. FBC Monahans agreed to fund the program, so she contacted the Superintendent of the local school district, who was a member of the church. The Superintendent helped Braswell get in touch with the principal of a nearby elementary school, who approved of the program.
From there, Braswell gathered volunteers to run the after school program and look after the children. Because the program took place directly after school, which was in the middle of the afternoon, it could be difficult to find adults who were available to help. This was a great opportunity to partner with other churches in the city, several of whom also provided volunteers. The number of volunteers needed fluctuates each year depending on the number of students participating, and Braswell has had as many as 10 volunteers committed to weekly ministering to the children.
Building a strong ministry
The after-school program took place on the school’s campus, making it convenient for parents, who would not have to make multiple trips to the school for their child to participate. It lasted an hour-and-a-half every Tuesday, during which time the children would eat snacks, sing worship, listen to a Bible study and play games.
For the curriculum, Braswell partnered with Kids Beach Club. Jack Terrell, founder of Kids Beach Club, explained that the entire purpose of Kids Beach Club is to give children in third through sixth grade a “Jesus experience” within their own public school. He created easy to use plans and activities that would give churches an easy way to form a relationship with a nearby school.
Terrell explained that he wanted churches to have a program that would make long-term partnerships with schools easy to maintain. “You’ve got to be in this for the long haul, because principals have had people come in and do a song and dance, then leave,” Terrell said.
Bonds that last
Building trust with the school administration was key to providing a successful ministry. An after-school program is an opportunity to minister not only to kids, but also to the teachers, administrators and parents at the school. To strengthen their relationship with the school, Braswell often relates the week’s Bible study and character word to a character trait the school also is promoting.
The school has grown to truly appreciate the ministry that FBC Monahans provides.
“We have had tremendous support,” Braswell said. “Teachers have said they can see a difference in the kids that participate.”
FBC Monahans’ after-school program averages about 30 children in the fall and 19 in the spring. Braswell explained that it is common for spring attendance to dip because of sports and other programs.
Braswell strongly encouraged other churches to start long-lasting programs with their local elementary schools. She suggested speaking directly to the school administration when planning the program. They will have the final say in it, and they know the needs of the students and faculty better than anyone else. Furthermore, come with plenty of information about the intended program, so that schools have a vision of what the meetings or activities will look like.
Most importantly, Braswell urged churches to pray as they begin setting up their after school ministry. After school ministries can be incredibly beneficial to the entire community, but they have to be done prayerfully and intentionally.
Terrell explained, “When you do it right, everyone is blessed. The students are blessed, the teachers are blessed, the volunteers are blessed, and the administration is blessed.”