History of the Good News Club

Berkeley Roots

The “Good News Club” has a long and influential history, with roots dating back nearly a century.

The concept was born — improbably — in Wheeler Hall, on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, where for three years founder Mr. Irvin Overholtzer taught regular Bible classes, planting the first seeds of his dream of building “an army of evangelists to children circling the globe.”

I began to show the members of these classes, from the Scriptures and my experience, that little children can be brought to a saving knowledge of Christ, and that it is our duty to lead them to Christ.

One day in the early 1920s, Mr. Overholtzer’s students joined him in prayer to reach five classes of children: “those completely outside the church; those in liberal Sunday Schools; those of other faiths and cults; isolated foreign or minority groups; and unsaved in evangelical churches.”

Three teachers, including two graduates of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, were hired. Each teacher conducted five classes (not yet referred to by the “Good News Club” moniker) a week, immediately after the close of school, at various churches in the San Francisco Bay Area, all deliberately located near public schools.

These classes were at first held in churches. We would secure a church near a public school and gather as many children as possible of grade-school age into the class.

Soon, they discovered that it was more effective to hold the classes “in a good Christian home which had the respect of the neighborhood.”

In 1923, Mr. Overholtzer opened a nine-month training school in the Bay Area for teaching students in child evangelism.

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