Rock 'n Roll After School Draws a Crowd
Initially, Music and Fine Arts Director Gene Evans, FUMC Henderson, was stumped. He wanted to revamp the youth music ministry to be more missional, in response to Bishop Janice Riggle Huie’s challenge for all congregations to Invest in the Young, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. “Having taught private guitar lessons in my past, I decided to test the idea of group lessons within the youth group of our church,” recalls Gene, “and about seven elementary students participated with excitement in my first class.”
That pilot program set the stage for Gene to “go public” with his offer, and he was stunned by the response. “I named it the Rock & Roll After School program and gave the local school a flier announcing free guitar lessons at the church on Tuesdays,” he says, “and I had to scramble to close registration pretty quickly after 40 signed up almost overnight!”
Gene now had a different challenge. “I had to recruit helpers and find more guitars – and fast,” he says. “We shared our success with the congregation and soon we had donations to cover costs of guitars for each student. The men’s ministry built wooden guitar racks. Soon, I had four musically trained volunteers that enabled us to expand our offerings to piano and drum lessons as well.”
Knowing he is providing an enriching experience for many of the area’s underprivileged youth, his next dream is to add two more grade levels next year. Parents inside and outside the church are clamoring to keep their students involved.
“When more than 60% of the students told me they did not attend church anywhere, I realized this was a ripe mission field for our church, and this Christian rock band idea was a great hook to get them on the church campus,” adds Gene. Several students’ families are now attending church there together on Sundays, and several more are plugging into the “Champs” youth activities on Wednesday nights. “We are limited when it comes to evangelistic efforts when we go into the schools, but when they come to us, we are free to share the love of Christ.”
Gene is excited to share how easily this type of ministry can be done at any church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.