By Steve Waring
Special to The Milwaukee Times
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) recently announced that it had selected Milwaukee as its partner city for its 2016 Good News Across America outreach. “We want to begin meeting with interested churches as soon as possible so they can begin developing their outreach strategy,” said CEF national program director John Luck. “We are targeting Milwaukee for a major blitz of the Gospel. This is a time tested and proven technique that has worked in diverse communities.” For the past eight years, CEF has focused on helping about three dozen churches in one city to reach out to youth with a lesson program and trained volunteers to help implement it.
There is no cost to participating churches except for the cost of food for the closing picnic, Luck said. Previous cities where CEF has worked include Chicago, Little Rock, Boston, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, Portland and Indianapolis. Since 2008 nearly 19,000 young adults, most of them unchurched, have heard the Gospel and over 2,100 of them have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. “The goal is to impact the community around your church with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to do so by reaching children and their families with the message of Christ’s love,” CEF said in a promotional booklet. “Effectiveness is the result of the faithful praying and faithful planning of your church family and the CEF family.
Together we can make a difference by reaching the children and families right where they are in your community.” Luck said that Milwaukee met the four criteria that CEF looks for in deciding on a partner city. There is a tremendous need, a large population center with many churches and great potential for growth. Mission team members raise their own funds, Luck said, adding that CEF planned to have 175 volunteers working in Milwaukee next summer. “We make the investment so that the church can grow. CEF members are passionate about making a difference,” he said. The program materials encourage each partnering church to research and choose at least three locations near the church where youth congregate. These locations might be playgrounds, housing projects, schools wherever youth gather, Luck said.
The idea is to bring the church to these youth. “We call it Vacation Bible School on the road,” he added. The program will culminate with a week of ministry July 25-29, 2016. During that week each church will host three outreach events which will be conducted by the team of trained volunteers from CEF. Luck said CEF has developed age-appropriate materials that deal with the issues children face in a manner that will capture their interest. On Friday evening all churches will hold a rally across the city. After the rally, partnering churches agree to adopt a nearby elementary school at which to hold a Good News Bible club meeting one day a week. “The result of partnering together will be increased impact on your community,” CEF states. “Churches which have partnered with us have testified of being able to reach families through this simple and effective approach to ministry.”