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June Activate Post: Planning for the school year


I love the month of June. By this time, I have fully settled myself into summer with poolside lounging, road trips, backyard grilling, and indulging in sweet produce from summer gardens. June also allows me to bask in the glory of all the summertime that is still ahead. It is also the perfect time to take a break from the busyness, schedule, and structure of the school year. You may revolt, along with my teenagers, when I say that right now is the perfect time to think about school. Stick with me for a few minutes, and then you can dream about that corn on the cob you will be grilling this evening!

There are seven areas that shape our culture today. They include religion, business, education, arts and entertainment, government, media, and the social realm (this includes family). As a church on mission, we need to understand that staying in the “religious” cultural pillar will not allow us to reach this world for Christ. We need to be intentional in reaching out into the other pillars of society.

One of the areas that every church can enter into is the world of education. Investing in local schools in our communities allows us to meet some real needs and support those who are working so hard for our children.

The Barna Group* asked Americans what they think about the country’s public education system. Only seven percent of US adults said that the public education system in our nation is “very effective.” Forty-six percent said that public schools have declined in the last five years. One-third of parents of school-age children (34%) stated that public schools are their first choice of education for their children. As the church, we can make a difference where it is needed.

Planning now as a church will allow you time to prepare well for that first day of school. Where should you begin? Start by praying over the direction you should take. Meet with the school principal, counselor, and PTA chair to start forming relationships and hear about the needs they may have. Summer is the time to begin getting the word out and start recruiting volunteers to undertake the work of this ministry.

There are many ways to get involved. You could provide classroom helpers or reading buddies for the year. Supplying school supplies for teachers and students is a huge help. Hosting a “back to school” lunch for teachers during their prep week is a treat for teachers and a great relationship builder. This could be carried throughout the year by monthly breakfast or snack breaks. Many churches have recognized the need for weekend food backpacks for the food insecure. After-school tutoring or providing a computer lab at your church is a way to extend your impact beyond the typical school day.

Let me offer a few words of caution.

  1. Please under promise and over deliver. School officials have seen too many programs start and then fizzle out due to a lack of follow through. That isn’t good for the school or the church.
  2. Don’t get so caught up in programs that you forget relationships. While we as the church are called to help in these different ways, it is easy to get caught up in the program to forget that building relationships is the goal.
  3. Pray for and expect transformation but know that it will not happen overnight. Relationships that lead to transformation take time, effort, and faithfulness. Don’t grow weary, you will see fruit as you work with your school.

Planning now for the school year will help you to effectively encourage and serve teachers, children, and parents when the school bell rings and the halls are filled with the chatter of students. This is an area in which the church can make a big impact if we plan ahead and stay for the long haul.

Now, go fire up that grill and start dreaming about all the possibilities!

*The Barna study can be found here