Reaching youth for Christ is goal of outreach evening

F4 offers Central Kansas teens and extra dose of food, fun and fellowship

A total of 231 students, leaders and staff participate in F4 Night 2022 hosted by Koerner Heights Church, Newton, Kansas. Photo: KHC

Students, laughs, fun and the gospel—F4 was an evening packed with all of it! Approximately 150 junior high and high school students gathered at Newton Athletic Park October 5 to engage in games and contests, comedian entertainment, student-led worship and the gospel message at the F4 event hosted by Koerner Heights Church in Newton, Kansas.

Since 2019, Koerner Heights has ministered to area youth through F4 with a goal to provide entertainment, fellowship and an opportunity to reach youth for Christ.

Youth pastor DJ Toelle began organizing F4 events in 2019. Photo: KHC

“F4 exists to give students a high-quality night of fun where they can hear the name of Jesus,” says DJ Toelle, youth pastor and founder of F4. “’High quality’ meaning that it is impactful and engaging and with the ultimate purpose of not just having fun but having a place where youth can invite their friends and share the gospel with them just by being there.”

Toelle believes one of the greatest impacts of F4 is its intentionality about evangelism. He noticed that youth who were invited to church seemed to be turned off but were less intimidated when invited to an event like F4. As a result, Toelle created F4 as a place to engage local youth and provide a bridge to church and a place to get plugged in.

Creating such an event was no small undertaking.

“Our first year it was intimidating trying to pull together such a huge event and fighting the fear that asks, ‘Is anyone going to come?’” Toelle recalls. “But then, I felt like the Spirit was saying, ‘Hey, whether it’s one or one thousand, they are going to hear about me so it doesn’t matter.’ It’s not for the fun stuff but doing it for Jesus that really matters.”

After seeking the Lord and planning, Koerner Heights welcomed 30 youth to its first F4 night of games, pumpkin carving and fellowship. One youth received Christ as his Savior.

“That’s that one,” Toelle says he remembered thinking as a boy approached with questions about what F4 was and why the church was doing it. Toelle answered the boy’s questions about the event and the Lord and prayed for him to accept the Lord. This gave the congregation both joy and passion for what God was doing and could do through F4.

A variety of games were offered Oct. 5, 2022, when Koerner Heights hosted its fourth F4 event. Photo: KHC

Ignited with a desire for outreach, Toelle and members of the Koerner Heights congregation sought to make the next year’s F4 bigger and more engaging despite unforeseen obstacles.

In light of pandemic-related restrictions in 2020, F4 was the only event of the school year in Harvey County. F4 drew 80 students from four different schools that year and went on to welcome 475 students and adults from 17 churches and nine counties in 2021.

With each year bringing an increasing number of students, Toelle and members of Koerner Heights saw that F4 was an increasingly large platform not just to invite youth to church but to directly share the gospel. F4 began including speakers and entertainers that shared the message of salvation in hopes that again even one would be saved as a result.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve from one year to the next and new ways to present the gospel to kids,” says Del Fleming, member of Koerner Heights and one of the many hands behind F4. “The church does a great job of getting involved in a lot of different ways and serving kids who come out from all different churches and backgrounds, but mainly the church backs F4 with prayer since we know that’s where the real power comes from.”

Comedian Jaron Myers was the special entertainment at F4 2022. Photo: KHC

One of the unique highlights of this year’s F4 was a live performance from viral Christian comedian Jaron Myers. Toelle says they were excited to bring a comedian this year which was different than a band or rapper as they had done in prior years but just as entertaining.

Don and Jan Schroeder, members of Koerner Heights, say they have seen the church come together with its talents and abilities to make F4 successful.

“F4 is an outreach arm of our budget,” says Don, a member of the church’s stewardship committee.  “We have seen it used in the Lord’s ways with youth coming to know and accept Christ.”

To reach as many youth as possible, Koerner Heights makes it a goal every year to offer the event and meal completely free of charge to attending churches and students. Schroeder says the church is grateful to have received a majority of its funding from the congregation.

Organizer DJ Toelle reports that three students made first-time decision for Christ and 10 recommitted themselves to following Jesus at F4 2022. Photo: KHC

Jan Schroeder, member of the hospitality committee, says she has seen the church come together in volunteering service as well. In her two years of serving at F4, Schroeder says she has worked with other volunteers who took time off, came early and stayed late to serve youth by helping at various booths, security positions or behind-the-scenes roles to make F4 an impactful night for everyone who attends.

F4 gave students what the Koerner Heights congregation hopes was a life-changing night of comedy, entertainment and ultimately an invitation to know and follow Christ.

Note: Since this article was written, DJ Toelle has left his position at Koerner Heights Church to pursue a youth ministry role in Olathe, Kansas.



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