Four Steps to Building Inroads to Public Schools
Learn How to Better Serve Your School
Recently in our kids’ church, we talked about the first time the term “Christian” was used to describe followers of Jesus Christ. The people of Antioch watched as Barnabas, Paul, and the church there acted like Jesus. It was because of their actions that they were known to be Jesus followers.
I believe as Kidmin leaders, one of the best ways we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, outside the walls of the church, is to partner with our local public schools to meet the needs of students in our cities. For Kidmin leaders, the public school is our missions field!
Here are four steps to building inroads to your local public schools:
1) Go in with no return agenda.
If you want to connect with schools for the sole purpose of getting people to come to your church, then you are going into it for the wrong reason. Do it to be a blessing! Do it to help those in your community who need it. When we go in with the right heart, God will return the blessing in ways we could not imagine.
2) Be available.
If you’ve never talked to the elementary principal of the school closest to you, then do it right now. Call him/her and let him/her know who you are and that you are available if they need anything. Thank them for the work they are doing and how they are impacting your community for the better.
I did this with a school down the street from us, and the principal was a bit standoffish. In our first conversation, I mentioned we’d be willing to bring a work team during the summer and asked if they needed anything. She said she was too busy and she'd get back to me. I called back at a later date, and she gave the same response. However, because I had made our church available, she called me a few months later to see if we were interested in helping them with a food pantry. My response was, “Absolutely, we can’t wait to help!”
You may not get the response you want initially, but if they know you’re available, when the need comes, they won’t forget you!
3) Plan surprise connections.
A couple of times a year, we will randomly show up at the school (I connect with elementary schools and our youth pastor connects with local middle/high schools) and surprise the principal and teachers with a thank-you gift. Usually, it’s something for breakfast—coffee right before the semester is over, as they push to the end, Valentine’s Day thank-you cards, etc.
Again, these are things we do with a “no return” agenda in mind. Over time the school leadership and employees will see you simply loving on them for their investment in kids and see that you are truly showing the love of Jesus.
4) Meet the need.
Our church lives by a core attitude, “When we see a need, we meet it.” During the winter, I went to four elementary schools and sat face to face with principals, asking them what their school’s greatest needs were at the time. Lots of people assume the answers: school supplies, jackets, furniture, etc. But each school had different needs: crosswalk volunteers, food for weekend pantry, warm up room volunteers (we live in Alaska, so after recess, at up to 20 below zero, kids need a little time to take off gear and warm up), underwear, reading-time readers, and the list goes on.
If you can find out the specific immediate needs of your local school, and meet them when possible, you instantaneously make a difference. A year and a half ago our church wasn’t a known entity in the school district. But because of finding out the need and meeting it, from the school district offices to other schools around the city, our church is known for meeting the need.
If you consistently do these four things, God will help your church build a bridge to your public schools. In time teachers, kids, and families will be impacted by your following the example of Christ and showing God’s love for His people.