Archers take your stance, draw, anchor, aim and release. That arrow will surely find its mark.
Laura Chapel in Patterson may be a self-described “country church” but their members have found their mark — they’re investing in kids from all over Pierce County one bow and arrow at a time.
Last year the church launched Centershot, a youth program that teaches archery skills and Biblical concepts. Every Wednesday night church members teach children Bible lessons themed around archery, provide archery instruction on the range constructed at Laura Chapel, and feed 15-30 participants.
Pastor Daniel Harris was looking for a “hands on” children’s program when he heard about the curriculum.
Centershot was the perfect fit.
“It was just something we could do to engage our young people and our kids,” Harris says. “So many kids these days have a cell phone. That’s all they do, have their heads down.”
Centershot, a nationally-used Christian youth program, has been a successful outreach for churches who implement it for one simple reason.
Everyone can shoot.
Small children, teens and adults alike enjoy learning archery. It’s a program that brings families, or church communities, together to learn the sport. Laura Chapel operates Centershot in two 8-week sessions, one in the spring and another in the fall, and they hope to incorporate adult competitions soon as well.
Every week students gather at the Patterson church where they are taught a variety of skills through the sport of archery — hand/eye coordination, focusing on a target, proper stance and operation of a bow.
“There’s a number of physical skills they’re learning,” Harris says. “Everybody loves it.”
Each student on the range is accompanied by an instructor. The group is typically split into two sections by age. One class stays in the building for their Bible lesson while the other class heads to the range. Then they swap places.
The program keeps students moving, burns off some energy and makes for a good time, but Harris is quick to point out archery is not the primary focus of Centershot. The program’s motto is “making Christ the target of our lives.”
“That’s the most important, of course,” Harris says. “We just want to share Jesus with them.”
It’s important to teach children when they are small how to make Christ the center of their lives because statistics show the likelihood of a salvation experience drops dramatically as they grow up, Harris adds.
Several Centershot participants have had salvation experiences and been baptized because of the program. And, new families have begun to attend Laura Chapel as a result.
The father of one family whose children attended Centershot has since died, and Harris tears up telling their success story.
“That’s our whole goal — to let others see Christ!,” he says.
Laura Chapel’s program has not only served as a successful outreach to the community, but it’s brought their members closer together too.
Harris and his team spent several months preparing to launch the program, They learned how to shoot, built a range at the church and studied the curriculum.
“That’s pretty cool,” Harris says. “It takes all hands on deck to make everything work. It’s 100 percent effort on everybody’s part.”
They may get tired, but success stories impassion Laura Chapel’s members to keep at it. Every person whose life is changed becomes one more ‘pinwheel’ — an arrow that hit dead center in the scoring ring — and another person who made Christ the target of their life.