Pastor John Gargis (middle) at YOKE’s Team Leader training.

YOKE Clubs around the area are kicking off this month and there are lots of opportunities for you to get involved. It’s a great way for you to connect with students and families in your community, to make a positive impact on your local school, and leave a lasting impression on a middle school student. In addition, you’ll benefit from being a member of the YOKE family and gain valuable ministry experience along the way.

YOKE’s volunteer mentors, known since 1977 as YOKE Folk, are assigned in teams of 6-10 to a specific school. Together they host a one-hour weekly club at the school. Club time provides YOKE Folk with a fun and engaging opportunity to initiate relationships with students, and the platform to continue building those relationships outside of club. It is in the context of those personal relationships that transformation occurs – both for the YOKE Kid and the YOKE Folk.

When it comes to recruiting volunteers, YOKE’s top priority is to build them. We are committed to raising up a generation of servant leaders to help engage and reach the next generation. A significant number of YOKE Folk are serving today because of the impact YOKE had on their lives as middle school students. That’s how YOKE has continued to flourish through more than 40 years of ministry.

Another proven strategy is to engage local churches. Naturally, churches are a great source of volunteers and financial support for YOKE. Churches benefit as well by partnering with a proven program to engage students, families, and schools in their neighborhood. YOKE is also a great training ground for future church leaders. Finally, we hope that families will also be enriched from a relationship with a local faith community that will outlive middle school.

John Gargis, pastor of Valley Church in Hardin Valley, immediately saw the value in such a partnership.  “When Jonathan first approached me about partnering with YOKE at Hardin Valley Middle School, I immediately said yes,” remembers Gargis. “We had actually been praying about an effective way to serve our school and I saw YOKE as an answer to that prayer.”

YOKE now serves at 31 middle schools in Knox, Blount, Loudon, Anderson, Jefferson, and Grainger Counties, so wherever you are, there’s an opportunity nearby. Get started today by filling out a volunteer application, or send your questions to