A church desiring to become a difference making faith community in their near-neighborhood does well to find two to three “toe-holds” where they can concentrate congregational investments of time and energy.
In searching for neighborhood toe-holds, congregations should consider making their first investment in the local public school. Connecting with a public school links the church to the beating heart of the community, provides multiple opportunities for service, creates a learning environment in getting to know near-neighbors, and provides a great way to reach young families.
A visit with the principle of the nearest school typically opens the door. The meeting should focus on how the church can come along-side the administration, staff and students in small and large ways.
Here are a few ways churches can serve their local public schools:
Providing tutors for a one-on-one connection with students that struggle academically or with life challenges is deeply appreciated by most schools. Kid’s Hope USA helps churches do this well.
Coaches for athletic teams, Odyssey of the Mind, theatre productions, Science Olympiads and the like are often in short supply and provide an opportunity to build relationships with students and their parents.
Teachers are often underappreciated and are much encouraged by simple acts of kindness like occasional treats in the teacher’s lounge, gift certificates to buy school supplies, and kind notes of encouragement.
ADOPT A CLASSROOM
Small groups can adopt a classroom to provide prayer support, help decorate/clean, assist in getting ready for a new school year, reading a chapter book to the class while the teacher does other tasks and offering an extra pair of eyes and hands for class outings.
SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANCE
Many schools struggle to provide adequate care and encouragement for special needs students. Volunteers that work one-on-one with special friends can often provide a much needed loving presence.
Providing a group of volunteers to plant flowers, spread bark, assemble playground equipment, repair broken equipment and assist in tasks that brighten and improve buildings and grounds is always appreciated.
SAFETY ASSISTANCE, ETC.
Church volunteers can also serve as street crossing guards, assist in loading and unloading busses and volunteer at sporting events for ticket sales and vending services.
The possibilities are endless. In one way or another nearly every member of a congregation can provide some gift of service to the local public school increasing the congregation’s good name in the community and building a bridge to those who live within the shadow of the church’s steeple.