For Potential Students

What Should I Expect from a Year in the Program?

Young adults face a mountain of decisions about life, often eager for the adventure ahead but needing spiritual preparation to discover their calling. Spend a year getting equipped at J-Serve. 

What will a typical day look like?

In J-Serve, every day holds a new opportunity to grow in your walk with the Lord through a variety of acivities that have you learning, serving and engaging in God's redemptive story. Through these activities you will be learning and developing your part in that story.

Every morning students start with personal devotions. This is an important part of the day as it allows the students to seek God first and give him their day. Most days will have a time prayer or worship with all the other J-Serve students or in your assigned small group. This time allows for fellowship to help focus you for God's work for that day.

As the day continues, you will be attending a mixture of Biblical Emphasis classes, Released Time Bible Program, Area of Service, special service projects and other activities.

Each day you will find yourself immersed in a variety of service opportunities in practical ways. Whether you are ministering to elementary and middle school students across Franklin County or finding your niche in a ministry environment, you will be learning how to practically use your gifts to serve God and His people.

Most evenings are unscheduled free time, and you will be encouraged to spend time in recreation and fun with others. Throughout a typical day in J-Serve, you will find yourself being challenged to see how learning, service, and engagement with the community are important to your personal growth and spiritual development.

What Will a Typical Week Look Like?

A typical week in J-Serve will include a mixture of Biblical Emphasis classes, Released Time Bible Program Experience, Areas of Service Experience and Student Life.

Breakdown of the Week

During a typical week, students may spend their time in:

  • Biblical Emphasis Classes: 5 to 7 hours
  • Released Time Bible Program Experience: 6 to 12 hours
  • Areas of Service Experience: 9 to 15 hours
  • Student Life: 1 to 3 hours
  • Mentoring: 1 hour
  • Small Group: 1 hour
  • Study Time: 2 to 4 hours

On weekends, you may be working 5 to 10 hours or more doing various jobs that serving guests for camp events, group rentals, programmed retreats or other hands-on activities that need assistance. During the weeks that you are working on a weekend, you will have some time off during the week. Every student will have scheduled time off to enjoy a well-deserved time of rest. In general, you will be free on weeknights and on the weekends when you are not working. Occasionally there will be student life activities that will be planned. You are encouraged to spend free time resting, fellowshipping, and bonding with your community group.


What Classes Will I be Taking During the Biblical Emphasis Experience?

You will be taking a variety of Biblical Emphasis classes throughout the year. Students will learn a wide variety of content that encompasses a broader idea that is important to their own spiritual development. The Biblical Emphasis classes are taught using lecture and discussion styles to facilitate many opportunities to grow and stretch your thinking and your ability to coherently share your ideas within a community. The intent is to see how these concepts relate to each other and how they fit together to create a bigger picture.

Topics covered include (but are not limited to):

  • Biblical doctrine--Introduction to Theology
  • How to study the Bible
  • Prayer and worship
  • Introduction to worldviews: 10 ways to look at the world
  • Worldviews and how to maintain a biblical worldview in the face of today's culture
  • Contemporary Christian life and practices
  • Interpersonal and public communications
  • Writing/English composition
  • Fundamentals of leadership
  • Fundamentals of discipleship

The Biblical Emphasis classes will also give you opportunities to have hands-on experience that will further your understanding of the topics you're studying.

How many hours a week will I be spending in these classes?

You will be spending 5 to 7 hours a week in the Biblical Emphasis classes.  You will participate in the enrichment classes three times a week. You will also have a couple hours of reading and other homework each week that is connected to what you are learning in your Biblical Emphasis classes.

What is the Released Time Bible Program Experience?

The Released Time Bible Program is an opportunity of public school students (3rd to 5th grades) in Pennsylvania to receive weekly biblical instruction (with parental permission) from caring adult volunteers. Released Time (or RT) provides mentoring, personal sharing, prayer, scripture memorization, and Biblical training for young students that allows them to ask questions about God in a safe and loving environment.

Along with the elementary school Released Time Bible Program, there is a middle school version that is called CIA (Christian in Action). The middle school program students are released from school or after-school for Bible instruction once a week with caring adults, like the elementary version. CIA is also a great place for middle schoolers to build strong, close friendships with other like-minded teens. Students involved in CIA will gain an understanding of God's Word and why it's important for today, and specifically how it applies to their lives personally.

How will I serve in Released Time?

In both the elementary Released Time and the CIA program, you would be connecting with students in a variety of ways like through music, teaching the weekly lessons, listening to students as they share their memorized Bible verses, as bus chaparones, in planning games and more.  You will assist in a variety of aspects of the program to help lead and mentor the elementary and middle school students in the Released Time program.

Why is serving in Released Time important?

Serving in Released Time provides weekly opportunities to invest into the next generation, so that you are helping ignite a generation that seeks God first. It also is fulfilling the Great Commission commandment and allows you to fulfill your purpose as a follower of Christ as you serve children each week. It also provides you an opportunity to serve using your particular gifts. Alongside adult volunteers of various generations, you will learn how to fellowship in a multigenerational grouip of believers who also love children and are seeking spiritual growth. Released Time enhances your spiritual growth through the renewing of your mind as you memorize scripture along with your students. Released Time allows you to experience God as you lead children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

How many hours a week will I be serving in Released Time?

You will be spending 6 to 12 hours a week in the Released Time Bible Program Experience. You will participate in two to three elementary Released Times or CIAs each week. You will be assigned two or three Released Time locations in which you will spend the entire school year consistently serving the same classes of children.

What are the Areas of Service?

The Areas of Service are ministries associated with Joy El that you will be volunteering in on a weekly basis.  You will be, after considering your own spiritual gifts and passions, choosing a ministry that you want to serve in for the year in order to get hands-on experience and practical skills that you can use after J-Serve. The Areas of Service that J-Serves will be serving in are:


  • Public Relations
  • Development
  • Media

Released Time

  • Elementary
  • CIA (middle school)
4.12 Leadership Training Program

Camp Programs

  • Guest Groups
  • Programmed Retreats
  • Summer Camp
Food ServiceMaintenanceFinance

Office Assistant


Why is the Area of Service Experience so important?

The Area of Service Experience is important in the personal and spiritual growth of a J-Serve student. You will have weekly opportunities to learn how to practically serve in a diverse ministry.  You will have the opportunity to find your passion in life, to get practical life and job skills, as wells as, discover your gifts and how to apply them in other ministries and life experiences. Serving in an Area of Service will help you to practice leadership skills while getting valuable mentoring from the Joy El staff in that area.

"In the Area of Service, I've learned what I do and don't like, and what jobs suit me better. I've got a much better idea of what I could do." -- Forest (a J-Serve student).


How many hours a week will I be serving in my Area of Service?

You will be spending 9 to 15 hours a week in the Area of Service Experience. You will choose one Area of Service to volunteer in for the duration of J-Serve. You will be doing various activities and jobs within that Area of Service each week.

What will community life be like in J-Serve?

In J-Serve, we are not only about the development of students' spiritual growth but also about how to engage with a body of believers that are diverse and how to maintain biblical community.  J-Serve students are active through the various ministry opportunities they are involved in each week, but also in their free tiem with other students. Students will be learning, serving, and engaging on a daily basis with community. Students will have as many opportunities to rest, relax and hang out with other J-Serve students every evening. Students are encouraged to build friendships with each other and to spend time encouraging, fellowshipping and building each other up.

How will community be developed between students in J-Serve?

J-Serve students develop community through free-time activities, like playing basketball in the gym, singing worship songs around a camp fire, playing board games with each other or just hanging out and chatting about the day. Students also build community through weekly scheduled Student Life activities. These activities can consist of going for a hike, playing a game of volleyball or going on an adventure. The student life activities will be a required experience for all J-Serve students, as it will be an important way for students to develop a strong community with each other through having fun and playing together.

After a year of J-Serve, how will my life be different?

After a year of J-Serve, you can expect to have a deeper understanding of the Bible, your own biblical worldview, and how it answers the tough questions of this 21st century culture. You will have had multiple experiences that have taught you how to cultivate your own spiritual development and practically serve in a variety of ministries. You will have developed a solid foundation in which you have found who you are in relation to what God is doing in the world and your specific gifts and passions to be able to jump right into any situation to serve God. You will also have gained leadership skills that you can use to lead others in cultivating their personal spiritual development.

J-Serve Calendar 2017-2018 

Phase 1:Fall SemesterAugust 20th to December 15th
Holiday BreaksThanksgiving - November 20th to November 26th
Christmas - December 16th to January 2nd
Phase 2:Summer PracticumJune 4th to August 14th


Tuition and Fees

The total annual cost to participate in the J-Serve program is $5,495.00. There is a $40.00 fee that should accompany your application. This fee is deducted from your program balance due and is nonrefundable. Each J-Serve student will receive a monthly allowance, during Phase 1, of $100 for 9 months from September to May. During Phase 2, J-Serve students will become part of the summer camping staff, after an interview process and can earn approximately $1,800 from June to August. Tuition can be paid by the participant or raised through supporters. Participants should contact Joy El to discuss how to raise your funds.

2017-2018 Class

Total annual cost = $5,495.00
Phase 1 monthly allowance = $100.00 per month (for 9 months from September to May) = $900.00
Phase 2 summer staff employment = approximately $1,800.00

For tuition payment plan, one payment plan is available. 


  • Deposit $995.00
  • August payment $3,000
  • December payment $1,500