Here are some of the things I've gained over the years as a result of intentionally building a relationship with our schools.
1. The ability to advertise: the schools have afforded me a tremendous opportunity over the years to advertise upcoming events. I cannot, obviously, put anything of Christian nature on the flyers. I'm good with that. To make sure that I don't create more work for the office staff, I bundle the flyers according to the number of classrooms and students. We've been able to advertise parenting seminars, sports ministry, Trunk or Treat, etc. using this free advertising method.
2. The opportunity to minister within the community when the need arises. One of our local elementary schools were having an issue with children who were experiencing divorce in their homes. The school called me and, I along with the
school counselor, wrote curriculum that we were able to use with these students during lunch break. Talk about an open door. Again, Christianity had to be left out but we were able to pour into the lives of these kids experiencing trouble at home.
3. A presence at community events. We've been able to be present at school events to pray (when applicable), offered times to speak to classes on various subjects, etc. You may discover that the relationships you establish in this non-churched environment will reap tremendous results one day when a person is in crises or a need arises in their lives.
Here are five practical ways to establish a presence in your school system.
1. Show the love! Place donuts in the teacher lounge with a note from your ministry. Go all during the month of teacher appreciation. Leave balloons, gifts, decor, etc. from the families in your ministry in the teacher lounge. Signs with inspirational quotes about teachers/teaching written by the kids in your ministry. Notes of thanks from parents, etc. will go a long way to show the love.
2. Choose one! Before school begins, find a teacher to "adopt" as a congregation. Find out his/her needs and, together fill his/her classroom with supplies. Teachers often purchase these items out of their own pockets. Show them how much you value what they do.
3. Advertise! Take out a "thank you" ad in the local newspaper saying "thanks" to the school for all they do. Thank the administrators for their leadership, etc. Advertise using road signs to congratulate winning sports teams "way to go, Falcons on winning sectionals. Your friends at xyz church."
4. Host a "We Love Educators" Sunday at your church. Invite all educators from the community to join in and be a part of your service. Host a breakfast beforehand highlighting their accomplishments, etc.
5. Ask! Talk to principals and school administrators to see what their needs are. Do
they see a need among the student body that your ministry may be able to meet? Send a quick email stating who you are and that you would like to be of support to them and to the schools in whatever way possible.
Establishing a presence in your school system is one of the most effective ways to go about gaining community support and earning credibility. What do you do to establish a presence in your school system?