Posted on : Wednesday July 13, 2016

COLUMBIA, Md.—Last week, Columbia Baptist Fellowship (CBF) had their annual Backyard Bible Club (BBC) for kids at Forest Ridge Apartment Complex; but this year, rather than church members going to the apartment complex, the children came to the church.

Youth Pastor Neville Johnson said having the children at the building was a big step in the growing relationship and trust between the apartment residents and church members.

Johnson said church leaders realized about five years ago, that the church really didn’t look like the community. Johnson walked across the street to Forest Ridge, and asked the apartment manager about the possibility of bringing youth to host a Backyard Bible Club. God had already prepared an opportunity. “I found out she was a believer, and she welcomed us there,” Johnson said.

June Holland, the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network’s church strengthening specialist in the areas of children/Bible teaching, helped the church with supplies, and Johnson took the youth group once a year to host the event.

“It became our ‘summer mission trip’ for our youth,” Johnson said.

As a result of the BBC, many of the children began attending the Wednesday night youth programs.

Last year, at the end of the BBC, the church hosted a celebration night at the church.  The kids attended with their parents and that allowed the families to get more familiar with the church.

Though CBF wanted the children to come to the building for the Bible club so they would have more room and supplies, the families were hesitant; but this year when the church asked, and the families agreed.

The club averaged 25 children each night with a high of 36. This year’s highlight, Johnson said, was “Kinderman,” church member John Taylor, who used creative, interactive storytelling along with singing, dancing and games to keep kids engaged.

Children who attended at least three nights also received backpacks filled with school supplies.

Twenty church members helped at this year’s club. Johnson said that through the years, many of the church’s youth have left for college and other endeavors, but more adults are now volunteering and are intentionally building relationships through the club and Wednesday night programs.

Johnson said he’s thankful for the friendship that church members have developed with the apartment residents. Next month, the church will host an ice cream social for the children and their parents.