How much do you care about reaching people with the Good News of God’s love for them? When you think about missions, do you usually think of people in far away countries, or do you think of the largest mission field in America: the unchurched public school students in your neighborhood schools?
Searching for ways to bring in new church members? Your church is not alone. An article published in the 2001winter issue of the Journal of the American Society for Church Growth documents the obstacles experienced by many churches:
- “…half the churches across the United States did not record the conversion of one person last year.”
- “In America it takes the combined efforts of eighty-five Christians working over an entire year to produce one convert.”
- “Here on American soil every other religion is gaining coverts while Christianity is losing them.”
Other research supports this grim outlook. For example, a 2008 survey, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that in America:
- for every 8.5 people joining a church, 11 are leaving.
But there is hope! By creating or partnering with Released Time Bible Education (RTBE) programs, you and your church can effectively reach unchurched families by bringing the Good News of Jesus’ love first to the children and through the children to their parents and other family members. If you are interested in ministering to the families in your area please contact School Ministries and learn how you and your church can share in this great mission effort.
How can RTBE benefit our church?
There are four major ways in which churches benefit from offering Released Time classes.
- MORE CHILDREN ARE STUDYING THE BIBLE: Experience has shown that many parents, who will not take their children to church, will sign them up for Released Time.
- AFTER ACCEPTING JESUS AS SAVIOR, MANY SEEK A CHURCH HOME: Released Time classes are designed to bring public school students into an understanding of the Bible and into a relationship with Jesus Christ. When this happens, they are encouraged to get involved in a church.
- MORE PARENTS ARE COMING TO CHURCH: It is not uncommon for students, after accepting Christ as their Savior, to start going to church bringing their parents with them.
- GREATER GROWTH IN CHILDREN’S CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW: For some children, the only thing they know of God is what they hear at Released Time. Children, whose families do bring them to church, have their knowledge of the Bible enhanced by what they learn at Released Time.
Will RTBE distract from our church mission?
No. Quite to the contrary, Released Time programs can be effective tools in helping your church respond to the God-given mission of going to all the world with the Good News of Jesus’ love and his specific directive to bring little children unto Him.
How can our congregation provide assistance to RTBE?
There are many ways in which your church can support Released Time programs.
- Pray for Released Time programs and for School Ministries. Ask God to guide your church in how it should be involved in this ministry.
- Be spokespeople for the benefits and legality of Released Time programs.
- Find out how your church can support existing programs in your community. If there are not any, pray asking God if He might be calling your church to start a program.
- Provide leadership, sponsorship and encouragment for programs in your community.
- Financially support your local Released Time programs and School Ministries.
Where can our church get help in starting a RTBE Program?
This is the purpose for which School Ministries (SMI) was created in 1990. School Ministries is a nonprofit association with the mission to assist local communities in the creation of Released Time education programs and to provide support for existing programs.
- You may inquire about existing RTBE programs or learn more about starting up a new program by contacting the School Ministries national office. Contact Us
- The First Steps Kit, available through the Products Center, consists of booklets, manuals, and brochures that will guide you through the steps of developing a successful Christian RTBE program. It also includes a DVD that provides an overview of RTBE and its benefits.
- Click Become a Member to inquire about joining School Ministries, Inc.
To learn more about School Ministries and Released Time, go to the SMI Home Page or visit www.ReleasedTime.org.