Back-to-School Disciplemaking

As Navigators, we have an incredible opportunity to share Christ with people at the time in their lives when they are most likely to respond to Him. Let me tell you how my wife, Judy, and I are taking advantage of this opportunity—the exciting, fruitful ministry of holding Bible reading clubs in local public schools!
In fact, Judy and I have led Bible clubs since 2003. We began with one public school, are now in eight, and soon will be in 10 and beyond. We have reached and discipled students as early as kindergarten and through their senior year in high school. And as we train adult volunteers from local churches to lead the clubs, they become disciplemakers!
Over the years we have seen scores of young people come to Christ. This past school year alone, 71 students trusted Christ as Savior! Along with the church volunteers we have trained, we disciple these children each week in daily devotions, Scripture memory, and how to study the Word and apply it to real-life situations. We teach them how to talk about their faith with others. We’ve even seen school staff come to Christ and grow as disciples.
Bible clubs give students like “Carrie” an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. We met Carrie last semester when she sheepishly wandered in to our high school club and asked, “Is this where you study the Bible? I saw the poster up in school.” (Yes, we can also put up posters with Scripture verses in a public school!)
She was nervous but inquisitive. We welcomed her, offered her a snack, and assured her she could stay as long as she liked—no pressure! After listening for a few minutes she left for another after-school activity, but a little while later she came back! She then asked what the Bible says about homosexuality and sex before marriage—in our experience, the questions young people today ask most often.
Before we addressed her questions, we wanted to share the gospel with her. Whenever possible we start by sharing the gospel. We don’t always know if the student will be back. After I explained the gospel, I asked Carrie if she would like to receive His free gift of eternal life. She first said she wasn’t sure Jesus was God. I talked with her about C.S. Lewis’s “liar, lunatic, or Lord” apologetic. She didn’t think Jesus was the first two but wasn’t sure He said He was God. We showed her where He did. Then said yes, she would like to put her trust in Him and we all prayed with her to receive Jesus as her Savior! She was clearly elated after this decision.
This bright and insightful teenager has been excited to come to Bible Club each week! Among other things, we have addressed her initial questions. Along with the other teens, she is learning a biblical worldview as she studies the Bible. Bible clubs allow us to clear up many of these teenagers’ misconceptions about God’s Word and Christianity. Students also learn how to lovingly and confidently respond to their classmates’ comments and questions about their faith.
This ministry reaches young people at a critical time. Various studies show that 71 to 85 percent of American believers come to Christ between the ages of 4 and 14. Furthermore, according to Barna Research, people’s worldview is developed by the time they are 13 years old. Judy and I are impassioned about reaching young people before the window of opportunity closes!
How can we hold these clubs on school property? Thanks to the 2001 Equal Access Law, if a public school allows any outside community organization to use their facility, they must allow religious groups to use it as well. We can also post flyers advertising the clubs because what schools allow any other outside community group to do they must allow religious ones to do. They can’t discriminate.
By leading a Bible reading club, we have an opportunity to share Christ with many children like Carrie. I have developed a curriculum for leading a club and training volunteers to start other clubs. I would be glad to share it with you and show you how to start a Bible reading club in your public school. Once you get started, I can help you troubleshoot any issues that come up.
Thanks to the process created by The Navigators’ CARM department, I can also guide you through the process of obtaining the insurance schools require. You can complete the necessary child-protection training and background checks online.
Finally, Bible reading clubs provide an incredible opportunity to reach and disciple adults. When I told my congregation about this outreach opportunity, many volunteered to help. As word got out, more came forward, and they began to tell Christian friends from other churches about this opportunity. The principles of disciplemaking we teach our helpers equip them to disciple others in their spheres of influence: their families, neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, and beyond.
This outreach fits the new emphasis in The Navigators: getting the ministry into the hands of laborers beyond Navigator staff, and to those of every ethnic background. Here is an exciting way to begin to reach our goal of one million laborers in the next ten years. Every community in America has public schools and potential new laborers.
Would you pray about getting involved in this incredibly fruitful ministry? Let’s reach young people when they are most open to Christ!

Ernie and Judy Scalabrin have been on staff with The Navigators for 24 years. Judy is also a part-time home-visiting children’s hospice nurse. They live in the Greater NYC Metropolitan Area in Northern New Jersey. Contact Ernie at for more information.