Grand Junction, COLORADO: Western slope churches are reaching youth with innovative program that teaches young people about God while they learn how to build computers. “Instilling the love God has for us into our children is one of the most challenging yet rewarding acts of love we can give,” said Chris Portell, a member of Grand Valley United Methodist Church.
In the midst of the pandemic, Chris felt called to take his passion and skillset within information technology (IT) beyond his career. After his church supported a successful pilot project, churches in the Grand Valley region joined forces. With First United Methodist Church of Grand Junction at the hub, Tech I.T. Up has become a bridge between churches and the community. This faith-based technology education program provides a hands-on educational experience, and more importantly creates a unique environment for children to come to know God.
When reflecting on his childhood, Chris has vivid memories of a broken home with parents that ultimately divorced. It was a childhood mentor that not only taught him the ins and outs of disassembling and reassembling a computer but also taught him about Christ who completely transformed his life. Chris is now on a mission to change lives in the same way that his was changed during a time of uncertainty in his childhood.
With the help of a grant from the Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation, Tech I.T. Up was able to reach more than 50 families and held five 6-week workshops in 2022. Parents of participants have been blown away by the impact on their children with one saying, “The Tech I.T. Up program is phenomenal! My child has learned so much from the hands-on classes. This class really helps with all aspects of how computers work, coding and love of technology.”
The Tech I.T. Up program is centered around its acronym of Teaching, Education, Creativity, and Helping Hands. While participants in the workshops leave with a deeper understanding of why technology exists and how it works, young people are also left with knowledge about God and a sense of community within their church beyond the Sunday service.
The innovation and creativity of this ministry has had an immense impact by creating a deeper bond between the kids and church. Today, many new faces have been re-engaged with the community and can be seen in the pews on Sundays. The impact this program is having has only just begun. “It’s imperative that we, as a community of God’s disciples, work to bring opportunities to our youth that will allow them to come to know God’s love for them,” said Chris.
Tech I.T. Up leaders dream of expanding to more faith communities! Visit here to find out how you can bring this program to your church.