After School Programs…A Christian Distraction?

by Joseph Parker

I wonder…with all the money that is now coming available to after school programs are we, as Christians, losing sight of the big picture?

I am getting prepared to go to Indiana on Monday for an all week Training with Strategic Global Assistance, an organization committed to training Christian Leaders using the model Jesus exemplified. At the heart of this training is this understanding from their CEO, Malcolm Webber:

“The centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ in Christian leadership. Union with Christ, the cross, suffering, holiness and dependency on the Holy Spirit (John 15:4-5) must be at the center of all our leader development. The Person of Jesus Christ is the Beginning and the End of all Christian leadership and leader development.”

As I read articles by The Search Institute and After School Alliance and the Federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act, I have to wonder…are we, as Christians…doing all we can to develop our children into the leaders of tomorrow?

Is an after school program the answer for us in accomplishing this goal? Is keeping them “safe and off the streets” 3 hours a day an effective enough tool to accomplish this responsibility of the Church?

The obvious answer is, “NO!”

An even more obvious question is that just because it will not meet every need of a child, do we not do it?

But as Christians, if we take government money that tells us we must not include the Gospel, not talk about Jesus, not walk with these kids through life in such an intentional, long term manner that must include Jesus…are we doing all we can?

I truly believe, that as Christians…as the Church, if we truly believe in Jesus being the Christ, we must do everything we can to keep Him at the center of ALL we do; to keep our kids safe, educate them and develop them into the adult leaders they will become one day!

Visit our website at www.kidtrek.org to learn more about KidTrek’s plan to accomplish this goal.

Please…let me know what you think.

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2 responses to “After School Programs…A Christian Distraction?

  1. Very interesting question. I am a Director for an After School Program with the YMCA in Wake Forest, NC. After School, in my view, is a necessary misfortune. In an ideal world, children would be spending time at home with their parents after school. Their parents would be discipling them in Christ, in partnership with their local church. However, we have seen much spiritual fruit from our program and have reached many unchurched families that would not have otherwise been reached. So, while I wish we didn’t have to exist, we do, and we minister as best we can for His glory above all else.

  2. Justin,
    Thank you so much for responding to my post. I love interacting with people who have a similar passion to my own. I love what you are doing in Wake Forest; I would love to hear more about it.

    And I hope you did not misunderstand me; I am not saying after school programs are bad. I have actually worked in the after school world myself the past 12 years (Nearly 8 years in downtown L.A.’s skid row community, and nearly 5 years managing school-based after school programs). But I am asking, as Christians, are after school programs enough?

    KidTrek, for instance, uses an after school program as a tool to get our foot in the door with the local community, but it is not all we do. In fact, it probably comprises of about 20-30% of the total work load of one of our secondary nurturers. Visit our website at http://www.kidtrek.org to learn more about our mission to walk with at-risk families through life in such and intentional, long term manner, we will see these kids grow to become Christ-changed hope-filled, productive adults.

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