Bowersville Baptist hits bullseye with new program
The Bowersville Baptist Church gymnasium was buzzing Sunday night as dozens of kids enjoyed a brand new experience - archery lessons.
Pastor Justin Cason found out about the program through good friend Jason Webb, pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Hartwell.
“He and I had a conversation about creativity in ministry and he was telling me about using this archery ministry called Center Shot that they had used in a church he was at in South Carolina some years ago,” said Cason. “The more he talked, I just thought this is a really neat way to allow kids to have fun in the church while sharing the gospel with them. Also, there’s some of the self-discipline the kids learn through archery.”
This was actually the second Sunday for the program. With over 35 kids participating on opening day last week, Cason was pleasantly surprised by the reception.
“That’s a lot for our church,” he said. “We haven’t seen that kind of activity in a kids’ program in years.”
The kids (ranging in age from six to 16) are divided into two groups called flights during the eight-week semester. One flight is in the archery range while the other is studying discipleship with either Cason or youth assistant Amanda Futrell.
Even at the first round, Cason could see how it was positively affecting the youngsters.
“All of the kids were really excited. One of the goals was seeing the growth and self-discipline,” he said. “I sat there and watched all of those kids, who a lot of people think you can’t get that many kids to sit still. They sat there and they listened because they knew this is a serious thing. I was just really blessed to see our kids already maturing, even at the first archery lesson.”
Emmanuel College student (and New Zealand native) Rachel Burge oversees the lessons. Burge is a certified instructor. She even attends Emmanuel on an archery scholarship.
“It’s been a great opportunity to kind of give back to the community and help get local people into this church,” said Burge. “I’m really grateful just to be a part of it. I’ve shot archery for a while and it’s just a really amazing sport. Not enough people realize the dedication and also how cool it is. So, this is introducing kids to a different dynamic of the sport other than hunting.”
Deacon Chris Trotter serves as the range master during the lessons. It’s his job to make sure safety is top priority, which is why he usually has a whistle to his lips for the duration of the event.
While most of the kids patiently wait behind a barrier, Trotter gives various signals with his whistle to alert the kids to their next task. Two whistle blows gives the green light for four participants at a time to select a bow; one blow signals them to take a shot; three signifies it’s time to remove the arrows from the targets; and multiple rapid blows alerts the kids to stop shooting immediately.
“We’re actually teaching true archery form along with the discipleship part,” said Trotter. “Discipleship is just basically learning the Bible and what we can do as human beings to bring glory to Christ, bring other people to Christ and bring kids to Christ.”
The overall feeling on Center Shot is that it’s already a huge success. The church plans to provide another eight-week semester sometime in the fall.
The church welcomes anyone interested in checking the program out by contacting Cason through email at email@example.com. Bowersville Baptist Church also has a Facebook page where further information can be found.
Love offerings at the lessons are appreciated but not required for participation.