The Jesus And Me Club — or JAM Club — is a youth Bible study group for elementary school students that is currently being held at Birchcrest and Betz elementary schools.
Jamie Spurlock, a children’s pastor at Heritage Hill Church of the Nazarene, started the program six years ago at Carriage Hill Elementary School in Papillion.
From there it has grown from that one school to seven different elementary schools in both Papillion and Bellevue.
The children, from kindergarten through sixth grade, meet for about an hour after school dismisses and have different discussions on issues that children may be facing at home or in school.
“We do everything you would think you would do in church or in Sunday school,” said Spurlock. “We have a snack, we pray, we sing a lot of songs with hand motions, which they just love, we watch Bible stories and then we break into small groups.”
Small group interaction gives students and club leaders a chance to discuss applying the lessons they’ve learned to their everyday life.
“It’s all the basic stuff — respect people and authority whether it’s their parents or it’s their teachers,” he said. “Forgiveness and stuff like that is what we talk about and just the love we’re supposed to share with everyone, regardless of who they are.”
The club uses the Bible as a reference of how God wants people to be treated. If a student is having a bad day or said something rude to someone else, the scriptures in the Bible can be used to teach students how they can better handle that bad situation the next time, Spurlock said.
They talk a lot about how it’s wrong to gang up on someone because of a difference.
“We just stress on the fact that they were created just like you were, by the love of God, and we need to express that love to them, too,” he said. “It’s all those things that changes what peer pressure says or what society says and we just show them that there is another way.”
While the lessons are Bible-based, it doesn’t mean students who aren’t affiliated with a church can’t come.
“About half the kids are unchurched,” he said. “So a lot of times a lot of the parents want their children exposed to these kinds of values and virtues.”
Also, because the program isn’t funded by the school, and the JAM Club is only using a room inside the school, talking about religion and the Bible with the children is allowed.
Because Spurlock is a children’s pastor, he is focusing his attention on elementary-aged students. He said there are programs in some of the area’s middle and high schools, so he only saw need for the program at the elementary level.
The program, in its growth, is now up to about 200 students throughout the whole program in the two districts with most schools getting up to 30 students per club.
With that number of children, it is getting harder to keep the volunteer number up as well.
“The two biggest struggles are staffing and funding,” Spurlock said. “The biggest is the volunteers because it’s at a time when most people work, so that’s where I struggle with it.”
His goal is to get other churches in the area involved with more schools, because eventually he would like to see all the elementary schools in the area have a JAM club.
Spurlock said he isn’t doing this to bring bodies into his church. He said he is doing it to bring Jesus to the children and their families.
If you are interesting in volunteering or having your student become a part of this program, call Spurlock at 402-670-2126 or email email@example.com.
The club also has a JAM Facebook profile at facebook.com/JAMclubomaha.