When you think about the ministry of YOKE, the after school clubs that we now host at 27 middle schools are probably the first thing that comes to mind. But in reality, more of our ministry takes place outside of the weekly YOKE clubs. In 2016, our leaders invested 45,000 hours in those clubs. While that is an impressive number, they actually invested an additional 65,000 hours in the lives of middle school students outside of club time. One of our leaders in West Knoxville wrote to us recently about one of their most effective times of ministry – lunch time at the school.
We’ve been actively participating in the school lunches from 10:30 am until 1:00 pm every Friday. While we remain a small starter club with somewhat humble club attendance numbers, our connections with middle school students have exploded.  We now have 3 leaders every week who are being invited to lunch tables with different students, most of whom do not come to club.  During the lunch time, we find ourselves laughing with students and sharing life together.  Some students challenge us for a biblical response to the decisions they have made.  Others are sharing their hurts and fears with us. The students that we have connected with are referring other students to us on a regular basis. When students have questions, issues or fears they are facing, other students send them to talk to us. These students are hungry for an adult to spend time with them, to notice them, just to be real with them. 
We encourage anyone looking to connect more with middle school students to invest a regular lunch time each week. But be prepared to see and hear more than you ever expected.  Doughnuts, tacos, and chicken sandwiches have become tasty tools for us in advancing the cause of Christ in our community.