Sunlight Community Church, a Christian Reformed congregation in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., has developed a new club-based gospel curriculum to reach boys in their local and church community.
C.I.A. (Christ in Action) boys club was founded by Adam Sculnick to provide his church with a program that would create an environment for boys that would make them excited about Jesus. C.I.A. began as a ministry at Sunlight Community Church in September 2019 and has expanded to 10 more churches, including one Christian Reformed church, in the United States and one church in Canada.
“C.I.A. came about as a solution to a problem at my church,” Sculnick said. Sunlight had previously run a ministry called Heroes, which was an athletic-based program for boys to have fun with other Christian boys, though it was lacking in its gospel content.
When the Heroes program ended, Sculnick began researching programs. Cadets, a program with elements of scouting, earning badges, and a focus on fundamental theology, was one option, but Sunlight had tried to run Cadets in the past, and there hadn’t been enough interest.
Sculnick did not find a program he was happy with, so he made his own. He took the athletic concept of Heroes and combined it with gospel-centered lessons. C.I.A.’s stated mission is, “Helping boys connect deeper with God, learn and understand the gospel and grow into men who live out their lives in passionate response to the good news.”
It serves a different need than Cadets, and one church, Faith Christan Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Ill., is running both programs.
Sculnick said, “The difference between C.I.A. and Cadets is that rather than focusing on an inclusion culture where everyone has a uniform and grows together with merit badges … C.I.A. focuses on growing into the culture and being a place where kids who don’t believe in Jesus can come and hear the gospel, have fun, and want to come back.”
At Sunlight, 60% of the boys in C.I.A. don’t regularly attend church or identify as Christian. The club is a bit smaller this year with 70 boys registered. In December 2019 they had 94 registrations. Fourteen leaders, including four high school students, support the club. When COVID-19 shut things down in March 2020, they launched a YouTube channel and created several online lessons as well as a series of 90-second devotionals to share with the boys in the club.
Sunlight’s C.I.A., as well as its active girls’ GEMS club, running for more than a decade, are both back to in-person meetings, with some adjustments to the check-in and other procedures. Masks are optional. (Florida is not currently in a quarantine nor does it have any mandates in place.)