Several years ago, on the Sunday before Labor Day, the morning announcer in a church I was attending asked all the children present to raise their hands if they were starting school the following Tuesday. Little hands and big hands from children and teens who were feeling emotions from anxious to eager went up all around the sanctuary.
Then the announcer asked all those parents who were excited that their children were going to go to school on Tuesday to raise their hands. Many did and predictably, many people laughed. I cringed as I wondered how the laughter made the kids feel. Sure, they were likely familiar with Back to School commercials that presented things the same way—showing parents who are giddy with excitement that kids are leaving the house again—but was that the best way for God’s family to send them off to school?
A few years ago Kid President's Pep Talk to Teachers and Students! made the rounds on social media. It’s an encouraging pep talk for both students and teachers and a wonderful reminder that we are all learners and we are all teachers.
Watching the video got me thinking about how we as God’s family can also encourage the children and teachers in our midst. Depending on where you live, the students in your congregation may have recently returned to school or starting soon. Some will be anxious, some will be eager. All could use your support, encouragement and blessing.
Instead of defaulting to an easy morning announcement joke at their expense, how about inviting them forward this Sunday to receive a blessing. Invite all of the teachers in your congregation too! And once everyone has gathered at the front or in the aisles, invite members of the congregation to come forward to place a hand on the shoulder of each one while you pray for God’s blessing on their year as they learn, as they teach, and as they live out their faith in whatever school God has placed them.
Send them back to school with a blessing. It’s what families do.