Every Friday night, the halls of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Chatham, Ontario, bustle with people and activity as the church hosts “Fridays at Grace,” a family outreach program now in its third year.
“Fridays at Grace” includes games, crafts, singing, and child-friendly lessons for children aged five to 12, a junior youth group for young teens, men’s and women’s Bible studies, and a teaching series for adults.
Many of the 80-90 children in attendance come from a large housing complex next door to the church. Prior to starting the program, a group of church members had committed themselves to prayer walks through the area.
Church member Alice Van Stempvoort said, “God was preparing people’s hearts already then, and my heart was changing, too: it started to bother me a lot more that these people didn’t know God.”
In discussing what could be done to reach neighboring families, the church decided it needed something ongoing, not just something at Christmas or Easter. “We wanted to have something for everyone,” says Elaine Wolting, a coordinator of the ministry. “An effective ministry has to involve the whole family.”
About 20 volunteers help out every week.
Mackenzie, 12, said, she likes coming to “Fridays at Grace.” “I get to play and learn about God,” she said. She has also started coming to church on Sunday mornings.