Your local schools play a vital role in your community. For many kids, school is where they have the most formative experiences of their lives. It’s where they develop relationships with adults they trust, navigate interactions with peers, discover their niche, and in many cases learn who they are.
Kids in your church spend hours at school every week—and their friends do, too. School staff are often underequipped and overburdened. And that’s why this is such a powerful opportunity for your church to be the church.
By engaging local schools, you have the opportunity to not only build relationships with new kids—and therefore, new families—but to increase your church’s impact on your community and support local influencers. You can also strengthen relationships with kids who are already part of your church.
Here are five ways you can engage local schools this year.
1. Encourage church members to volunteer
Your church can be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving at your local schools. There are plenty of formal volunteer programs your church members could participate in (some of them are even Christian organizations that have made schools their mission field, such as Teach One to Lead One), but schools can always use volunteers in other roles.
Schools are almost always shorthanded in one way or another. Class sizes are constantly fluctuating, and they rarely grow smaller. This strain often makes school staff feel like they can’t do their jobs effectively simply because they’re over capacity.
Imagine the influence your church could have on your school if your members were volunteering as classroom assistants, recess aides, detention supervisors, and coaches? Supporting your schools in this way is one of the best opportunities to develop authentic relationships, and it will help build rapport with your local school staff. In time, they may learn to see your church as an ally in their effort to improve the lives of their students.
Why not ask schools in your area what kinds of volunteers they need, so you can highlight those roles to your congregation?
2. Host a work party
When a school doesn’t have the resources it needs, it tends to show. Every school is bound to have projects they would do if they could. Whether it’s landscaping, updating a playground, painting, or something else, a work party is a great way to make a lasting impression on your local school staff, kids, and families.
Think about what it communicates to kids, families, and staff when it looks like no one cares about their school. What if every time they walked through those doors, they were reminded of your church’s generosity?
3. Promote school events
Some schools have massive turnouts for games, plays, and events. Others don’t. And even at schools with, say, a popular football team, there are bound to be other student activities with very little support. For many kids, their parents don’t even show up to support or encourage them.
This is another opportunity for your church to be a positive presence at a local school. And while it might seem passive, it’s actually a good opportunity to get to know parents and school staff, and it supports the volunteer work you’re doing because kids and staff get more used to seeing your church members around the school.
4. Support school staff
A simple way your church can engage local schools is to make a point of blessing the staff. Bring them baked goods. Coffee. Donuts. Gift cards. Encouraging notes. You don’t have to give a significant gift for your support to be a significant gesture.
This is especially valuable at schools that are more closed off to your church. These little acts of kindness add up, and they may open the door to other opportunities to engage your school. At the very least, it will help create conversations.
5. Sponsor a school or class
Schools and staff often have a long list of supplies, books, and equipment that they would buy if it was in the budget. Reach out to a local school to find out what they need and how much it will cost, and consider creating a dedicated fund your church can use to “sponsor” the school or a classroom. (This is really easy to set up with Pushpay.)
Engage your community
Supporting local schools can give your church staff and members in positions of influence with kids, families, and staff in your community. It also helps other influencers in your community—namely, school staff—to see your church as an ally in their efforts to positively impact the kids in their charge.
For more on how your church can better engage with your wider community, download the free ebook, The Definitive Guide to Successful Church Engagement today.