As a church leader, you are prayerfully considering how God would use your church this fall season. In any community, there are many ministry opportunities available, including local schools. Across the nation, churches have found that focusing some of their ministry efforts on a local school allows them to serve and connect with school administration, teachers, parents, and children.
Ministering to a local school may be a good way for your church to impact the local community for Christ and share the love of Jesus. There are many ways a church can serve a local school. Here are nine ways churches make an impact at local schools:
1. Care for the physical campus.
Schools have limited financial resources. They are not able to pay for companies to paint walls and care for the campus’s landscaping as much as they desire. Especially leading into a new school year, you may notice that the grass needs cutting, weeds need pulling, and mulch needs to be laid in the flower beds.
Your church could recruit volunteers to help care for the physical campus. This type of volunteer work often takes place on Saturday mornings. To understand the current needs for the campus, connect with the principal. Ask him or her how the church can help keep the school’s campus beautiful.
2. Provide backpacks and school supplies.
At most schools, many students’ parents face significant financial challenges. Unless someone steps in, children show up without the supplies needed to start the school year. These moments can cause a child to experience shame and hinder their ability to have a successful school year.
Your church could give needy children a sense of dignity at the beginning of the year by providing new backpacks and supplies. In coordination with the school’s administration, set a goal for the number of backpacks, filled with school supplies, your church will provide. Point the church toward a specific collection date. As the date draws near, make the pile of backpacks visible for all church attendees to see. This will motivate participation and demonstrate how the church is making a difference in the community for Christ.
3. Purchase items on a teacher’s classroom supply “wish list.”
Teachers often use their own money to purchase classroom supplies for the school year. Though most teachers do not receive a lucrative salary, they willingly cover the cost for items they know their students need to better understand the educational material and to give students a great experience.
Ask a teacher or several teachers if they would provide you their classroom supply “wish list.” Then, share the needs with the church. Manage the list to reduce excessive purchases of one item and a lack of purchases for other items. Once the items have been collected, present the supplies to the teachers.
4. Have church members volunteer as tutors.
Many students need tutoring, but the costs associated with private tutoring often leave children without this additional help.
Encourage church members to fill this void in a child’s education. Have church members commit to the time period recommended by the school’s administration. When a person volunteers to tutor, the visible act communicates love and concern for the child, their parents, and the school. Odds are, you even have some retired teachers in your congregation that would love to serve a local school in this way.
5. Demonstrate the church’s appreciation for teachers.
Teachers often feel unappreciated for their work. They are responsible for educating the next generation, yet their difficult and important work often feels taken for granted. They regularly get the complaints, but they rarely get the praise.
Have your church showcase the love of Jesus and its appreciation for teachers. There are several ways to do this, ranging from simple and cheap to complex and more costly. The church could send several handwritten notes of appreciation to each teacher. The church could provide teachers a catered lunch at school. Or the church could hold a banquet for its local school teachers, highlighting the work they do.
6. Attend PTA meetings.
PTA meetings can be very informative. One of the ways church leaders can better understand the challenges and needs of their local school is to attend the PTA meetings. If there is already a relationship established with teachers and school administration, church leaders’ presence will also demonstrate a genuine desire to care for the school beyond a one-time volunteer event.
7. Make church facilities available for school use.
A school’s facility may place limitations on activities and events. Depending on your church facility, consider allowing the school to use the buildings. These events can raise the visibility level of the church in the community, making invitations to a church service easier.
8. Have small groups adopt a class.
Your church likely has some type of small group or Sunday school structure. If so, encourage each group to adopt a class at the local school. A group liaison can communicate with the teacher to understand the needs of the class. The group may be able to serve the teacher by providing classroom supplies, some student needs, occasional in-class help, or after school tutoring.
9. Ask what additional support the school needs.
When generously serving your local school, one of the simplest, but most important steps, is to ask what needs the church can meet. Church leaders should not assume they understand the school and its challenges. Set a meeting with the principal and ask him or her how the church could serve the school. And then listen. Demonstrate that you care about what they care about. And when the needs are expressed, attempt to meet them.
God has placed a school full of men, women, children, and children’s parents within close proximity of your church. This is not by accident. Consider showing the love of Jesus to your local school through acts of service and appreciation. Such an effort is almost always a good use of ministry resources. Reflect God’s generosity by being generous to teachers, administrators, students, and parents this fall.