Interview: Great Commission in a Small Town | Part One


Today we’re interviewing a mom from rural Illinois who is implementing the Heroic Life Discipleship curriculum through an after-school Bible Club with a small team of believers.

Aubrey: Tell us about your ministry.

K.D.: We live in a small rural community of 250 people where everyone knows everyone. There are two unattended gas stations, one diner, and two churches. About six months ago, after living here eighteen years, Jesus opened our eyes to see the dozens of unchurched children in our community. Most of them come from low-income, broken families; some have a parent in prison; others live with grandparents. Last summer, we approached a local church about letting us use their annex, and when school began, we started a weekly after-school Bible Club, telling Bible stories and talking about them, using the Heroic Life Discipleship curriculum as a resource. We interact with a mixture of churched and unchurched kids grades K-10.

Aubrey: How did the Bible Club get started?

K.D.: Our family was involved with piloting the Heroic Life Discipleship curriculum before its publication, testing content with a group of homeschool students, and later raising up some of the older students to be leaders in a separate, after-school outreach. However, this group only met once a month in a community about fifteen miles from our home. With the beginning of the 2016 school year, our vision was to combine evangelism and discipleship (like Jesus did); to provide a regular opportunity for church kids to talk about the Bible alongside unchurched kids and build relationships with them; to create space for the Holy Spirit to speak to and through students, so that even teachers could discover new treasures in God’s Word. The Lord gave us this verse as we began: “…I will save you so that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong” (Zechariah 8:13). Our prayer was, Jesus, you are the light of the world; let your light bring life to this dark and discouraged community.

Aubrey: I love how your vision is so simple yet has the potential to make a powerful impact in the hearts of the children and the teachers as well. What does a typical Bible Club afternoon look like for you?

K.D.: Bible Club begins with twenty minutes of outdoor kickball in pretty much any weather, followed by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water. These kids have been in school all day and have a twenty minute bus ride home … we want to give them space to get some wiggles out! We have a time of worship through music and then ask the children what they remember from the previous week’s Bible story. Four leaders rotate as storytellers; after the storyteller has told the new Bible story and led an interactive review of its details, we break into small groups and discuss the story by asking inductive-style questions.

Our discussion could go something like this:

The story says that Peter told the crowd, “Jesus came to save you, and you killed Jesus on the cross!” Then the crowd was cut to the heart and said, “Brothers, what should we do?”

What do you think about the crowd calling Peter and the other leaders “brothers”?

Are they really brothers?

Did Peter reply, “We’re not your brothers! You killed Jesus!”? No?

How could he have responded when the crowd said, “Brothers, what should we do?”?

But instead Peter says, “Repent—turn around from going your own way and turn toward God.” What could that show us about Peter’s heart toward these people who killed Jesus?

If the Holy Spirit is the one giving Peter the power to speak, what could all this show us about God’s heart?

Discussion is always interesting—we learn from the kids! At some point during small group, we have the children draw pictures of their impressions of the story, giving them a chance to process through art, and then everyone listens to ten minutes of a Mighty Men story about missionary heroes. Sometimes we have a special guest come and present an Intercession lesson about another country and what it’s like to be church people in that country. We end by reviewing the Bible story, asking questions, and praying.

Aubrey: I like how you feel free to utilize the Heroic Life Discipleship curriculum in a way that best fits your needs. One thing we wanted to do was design the curriculum in such a way that allowed leaders to be flexible as they implement it. It works well in a variety of ministry contexts, and the content can be broken into parts if you don’t have time to teach a whole lesson in one setting. How do you and your team prepare for the lessons?

K.D.: Three of the four team members are related and usually have some time together to learn and discuss the story during the week before Bible Club. Otherwise, story preparation is done individually, using the Heroic Life Discipleship curriculum’s Bible Story Guide (our favorite tool from the Leader Guide!). One of our team members will sometimes sit down with her grandson and go over the story to prepare for the lesson time; another talks about the story with the children she nannies. We’re hoping to begin a monthly team gathering where we learn a story together and have interactive discussion as a team. Before the children arrive each week, we also spend time together as a team in praise, prayer, confession, and intercession.

Aubrey: I like how your lesson preparation is taking place through a lot of dialogue with children and other teammates. That seems like a unique and effective way to build unity in the team as well as grow deeper in the Word. Thanks so much for sharing.

For our readers, come back next Sunday to read the rest of the interview, which will include ideas on how to practically and simply connect with the children in your ministry.

Aubrey De Vries grew up in the Midwest where she learned to tell stories, teach music, and host tea parties. She served with Operation Christmas Child for seven years, working as a recruiter and trainer of volunteer teams. She is a graduate of Ellerslie Discipleship Training, as well as an Assistant Instructor with Simply the Story, a ministry providing tools to experience Scripture through story and discussion. Aubrey currently tutors dyslexic students and serves as the Director of Communications for Heroic Life Discipleship.

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Mary Ann Limkeman
Mary Ann Limkeman
7 years ago

I thought it was wonderful. Really enjoyed the presentation of the whole program and the varieties of things being done. Breaking up into small groups is a great idea. Keep up the Good work!It is so good to share the gospel with young people they need something good in their lives these days.

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