Any evangelical Christian would love the opportunity for the gospel to be presented in schools. But we lament the “separation of church and state” and come up with outside programs. And we shy away from programs like in-school mentoring, because they are “secular.”
If this is how we approach this issue, we are thinking about the gospel wrong. We are misunderstanding the full-scope of God’s redemptive work, and we are missing obvious ways to let our light shine, so that God is glorified (Matthew 5:16).
Alvin Reid writes, “The public school campus is arguably the greatest mission field in America.” I agree.
We (the church) can gain immense credibility and have a meaningful impact, by investing in an institution that directly involves more than 85% of all the youth in our country (data here and here). And when you consider that most public school students are growing up in poverty, you know that help is needed.
What You Can Do
“One of the best things that has happened for us is the government cutting funds for the schools, because it gave us the opportunity to meet their needs first hand.“
Reid quotes a student pastor from a church in Tulsa, to give some great ways that they have connected with the local schools:
- Bring food to teachers.
- Talk with coaches and teachers about leadership training and becoming chaplains.
- Take drinks to the band, cheerleaders, and athletes.
- Volunteer to monitor testing (coming up in April and May).
- Become part of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Here are some other things our family has done:
- Start a chess club.
- Bring popsicles to the football team on Labor Day (or any other day when they are practicing but there is no school).
- Or, to get started, just meet with the principal and simply ask, “What do you wish you had for your teachers and students, which is not getting done?” This simple step led to a great opportunity for members from our church to become “room parents” to a special needs class.
And here are 4 more ways to serve a school:
- Ask how to help and show up (like my 3rd point, above)
- Give generously of your time and resources
- Practice hospitality
“As we enjoy the goodness and grace of Jesus poured out for us generously, we get to funnel some of that grace to others at the school, in order that the school might enjoy the grace and presence of Jesus.”
The Next Step
Go ahead. Call (or email) your local school. Find a way to support the administration, teachers, and students — especially for needs that others are not meeting. Your light (or God’s light in you) is best seen where no other light shines.
And here’s another tip: don’t pursue this opportunity with your agenda. Pursue this opportunity out of selfless love and service.
After all, that’s how Jesus pursues us.
Note: And if you want some additional thoughts, here’s another great article on Gospel Centered Discipleship blog, called 5 Vital Ways to Seek the Welfare of Your Neighborhood. Here’s the list from Brian Dye:
- Spend time
- Asset map
- Open your home