Making Disciples in the CF
IN this era where church youth groups are often seen as the hub of youth ministries, the role of school Christian Fellowships (CFs) in discipleship is often overlooked.
School CFs remain important for establishing a Christian presence in the public realm and for the grooming of student leaders. School CFs reach youths who are believers, but who may be barred from attending church by their non-believing parents. And for many non-Christian children, the school CF is often the first point of contact they will ever have with the body of Christ.
| Photo courtesy of SMK Damansara Jaya CF
So is your church near a school? Then there's a ministry field right there waiting for labourers!
The Christian Work in Schools Seminar on 16 March 2013 looked at, among other areas, how churches can partner with Scripture Union (SU) and the Teachers' Christian Fellowship (TCF) to help start and nurture CFs in schools. The seminar was co-organised by SU, TCF, the Malaysian Christian Schools' council and NECF Malaysia.
While a few churches around the country do already have ministries in this field, there is much to be done for many other schools around the country.
Churches can help by providing speakers or bible study facilitators to CFs. Or they could help CFs by sponsoring the cost of undertaking certain projects that will bless the school community. They may provide a temporary venue for CF meetings while waiting for the school to approve the use of a room. The guidance of pastors and youth workers will also be invaluable in mentoring and developing students to lead the CFs. And the over-worked school teacher who serves as the CF adviser will certainly treasure the spiritual covering that a church can provide.
Continuity of student leadership is also a key challenge given the many co-curricular activities that vie for students' attention. School CF leaders will eventually leave after Form Five. Stories abound of CFs dying out after a vibrant leader graduates.
A missional church, however, will groom its teenagers not just to serve in its internal youth ministry but start them young in the public square by serving as leaders in CFs! A missional church will also get parents of teenagers to support the formation of school CFs.
School CFs continue to face many challenges even though the Education Ministry has given them permission to exist. A ministry circular dated 18 March 2011 allowed schools to set up religious clubs or societies, albeit with caveats and subject to the discretion of the school principal.
Therein lies some of the challenges. Some CFs operate in "hostile" environments under an uncooperative school administration. The fellowship and support of churches nearby becomes even more crucial.
Churches that want to get involved in ministering to school CFs should remember, however, that the school CF is not an extension of a church's youth ministry. It is an inter-denominational setting and different styles of worship and prayer ought to be acknowledged. Hence, pastors and church workers should work closely with SU and the CF teacher-adviser who would know the do's and don'ts of the school context better. Churches interested should contact Scripture Union at 03-7782 9593.
The survival of school CFs is essentially a freedom of religion issue. The right for Christian students to meet in schools is the result of a hard-won battle. Wouldn't it be a waste not to use it?
Be salt and light! Ideas for your school CF:
- Give out free drinks on sports day (get your church to sponsor!)
- Borrow jet spray cleaners and wash the school toilets
- Organise a "Clean our school canteen" day