Every Friday night after the final school bell rings, 20-30 students storm into the gym of the local elementary school, eager to see their leaders and begin club time.
From the outside, it may look like the usual after-school activities – snacks, games, even the occasional craft.
However, if you look a little closer, you see that Crossroads Kids Club offers something a little different…
The students attending this club participate in many of the same activities as other after-school clubs. However, in this club, the children are introduced to the Gospel.
In an age when most men and women never experienced open prayer and Bible reading in a public school, Crossroads Kids Club is the avenue to bring unreached youth the love of Jesus Christ.
So how is God, Jesus, and the Gospel being shared in a public school when, since June of 1963, the US Supreme Court declared school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading unconstitutional?
The ruling triggered unparalleled controversy, leaving many school districts in chaos and causing considerable confusion. School districts around the nation were left to interpret, implement, and apply the new laws into daily school life.
How would no prayer or Bible reading change the curriculum? Was religion still allowed to be part of their daily schedule? Was the mention of God now outlawed altogether?
The ruling placed restrictions on teachers, but what about the students? Were student-led religious activities allowed or prohibited?
Many concluded that the ruling abolished God altogether from our educational system. Others did not feel the same, and as a result, programs like Crossroads Kids Club still thrive today.
The new ruling may have placed restrictions on how people handle God in our schools, but as God often does, He continued to show up in schools every day.
Religious organizations before and after the ruling established their places on public school campuses around the country.
Campus Crusade for Christ – or “Cru” as it is more widely known – began its journey into schools before the banning of prayer and Bible reading occurred. Established in the 1950s, Cru is now sharing the love of Jesus on over 5300 campuses across the United States.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, established in the mid-1960s, currently serves on over 8,000 high school campuses nationwide.
In addition to these organizations, churches large and small participate in “adopt a school” programs – all to provide for children in need, provide parenting help, and even offer after-school programs on school grounds all across America.
The proof of Christ being present in our schools after the court ruling is profound. However, in the ’90s and early 2000s, two landmark cases pushed religious rights in public schools back to the forefront.
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of high school student-led religious clubs or activities receiving the same access as non-religious activities, as well as elementary schools that offered non-religious after-school clubs would now have to allow religious ones.
One Christian after-school club became well known after its 2001 court battle against Milford Central School District. The Good News Club, started by Christian Evangelism Fellowship, sued the school district and was victorious.
The ruling handed down established free speech rights for the organization, stating that school districts could not prohibit or exclude Christian programs from approved after-school activities.
The ruling on these cases and many others like them carved a pathway for volunteers and believers to bring Christ back into public schools.
Most of the students and leaders who attend Crossroads Kids Club have never known a time when prayer and Bible reading were openly allowed in schools. And thankfully, most will never experience the fight that occurred to allow them to meet on Friday nights in the gym.
Club nights are loud, crazy, fun, and life-giving. At any given time, you can hear praying, Bible readings, and the reciting of Bible verses. The volunteers openly teach children the stories of the Bible and how to apply them to their lives.
It is exciting to watch. The volunteers make Jesus come alive and tangible.
A life serving Jesus calls us to be different. And reading the Bible, memorizing scripture, and praying in a public school is certainly different!
The people who serve at Crossroad Kids Club and all the other organizations like these, hear the calling and readily serve. They are willingly and openly worshiping Christ and obeying their calling.
Jesus, prayer, Bible reading, and public school in the same sentence may seem erroneous, but those who faithfully serve don’t care – they are there to make an eternal difference.
Let us praise God for how He is still making His Gospel known despite all attempts to silence it!