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Homework Club

A "guest post" by Kevin Mayer, Monterey Living Hope Nazarene Church

In the summer of 2011 I (Tim) spent several Sundays preaching at Living Hope Church in Monterey, California, when the church was between pastors. At the time, Robin and I were into our first year of Math Coaching at an under-resourced apartment complex in west San Jose. So on one Sunday in Monterey I shared something about our Math Coaching project with a Monterey couple: Kevin and Myriam Mayer. We still keep in loose contact.

Recently I was surprised to learn that Kevin and some others had launched a Homework Club as part of their Monterey youth group! Kevin's story really encouraged me. And I learned about it at a time when Robin and I really needed some good news. Isn't it interesting how often this sort of thing happens? Anyway, I asked Kevin to write something that I could post on this site as an encouragement for you. Here it is as the first entry into the new Stories section of the site. The picture below shows 3 of the adult leadership team for the Homework Club.

If Kevin's story reminds you of a story of your own that you might like to publish in this section of my site, please get in touch with me using the Contact Tim function.

Kevin’s Homework Club “guest post”

I think what our nation needs more then anything is for successful, retired, empty-nester Christians to mentor youth. It is such a huge need. A couple of verses that come to mind are:

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

2 Timothy 2:2 And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Several months ago another youth leader in our church gained custody of her two nephews. She began bringing them to youth group and our Homework Club. One of them was really hurting inside and close to joining a gang. I discovered he had real ability in math and after a few weeks he became one of the top students in his middle school. He was even selected to represent the school in a math test. He is getting A’s and B’s in all of his classes now. He is a big kid, not the nerdy type. Now, instead of being tough he excels in school. According to his aunt his life is turned around. Last night he asked me what kinds of jobs are available to people with college degrees in math. I told him that math happens to be the number one major for employment prospects. The bottom line is: spend large amounts of time with your people. That is what Jesus did with his disciples.

We have Homework Club twice a week beginning at 4:00 PM. We do homework until 5:30, then we eat dinner together, and finally we sit around a table and read Matthew one night and Romans the other night. We cannot go more than a couple verses without explaining things or answering questions and then we stop reading and talk. I don’t stand in the front of the room and talk at them. They get that all day in school. We sit around a table so it’s easy for anyone to stop the reading at any time (within reason) and ask a question or express an insight. There are no time limits for getting back to the “lesson.” We spend as much time as we need on their questions.

The kids for the most part were not raised in church so they do not know common Bible stories nor how these fit into history. In the context of studying Romans 1 we mentioned the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not one students had heard of these. How can we rush through Romans when they do not know who Jews are? We have to teach them the background. “Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. Israel had 12 sons. One was named Judah which eventually became a nation. This is where the term Jew comes from, from the tribe of Judah. Next week the question arises again (after all, this is complex story), “What’s a Jew?” “What’s a gentile?” So we review it again. It does not matter how many times we need to circle back. New questions keep coming: “Who was Paul? Who was David? What is Romans chapter 1 about? Chapter 2? 3…?”

We have plenty of time together; and we see their lives changing. They love each other (and us leaders) and want to be together as much as possible. This is their peer group. They encourage and challenge each other. When one of the young ladies enters the room the young gentlemen stand up. At meals the ladies are expected to be first in line. We are emphasizing for boys and girls that women are to be treated with respect.

No, they are not biblical scholars yet. But what they learn the Holy Spirit uses to change them right before our eyes. It’s working and they know it. This is an experiment for me too, and so far it is proving to be true: forget the program and live your life with your disciples. That’s what Jesus did. This is an experimental work in progress.

What would happen to a group of youth in your church...

… if older, experienced, knowledgeable Christians spent upwards of 10 hours every week teaching them all kinds of things from God’s Word to math to career planning to marriage?Blessings,

Kevin Mayer

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To contact Kevin Mayer directly by email, please Contact Tim and I'll forward your message to him. Then he can get back to you by conventional email. 

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