One of the most fertile and unreached mission fields in any community sits very close to, or just down the street from, the local church. It is the public school. Public schools are filled with children, teachers and staff members who live, work and play in the shadow of our steeples.
There are 655,642 students and 50,148 teachers/staff members in 1,177 elementary, middle and high schools in Kentucky. These children, teachers and staff members need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and yet, 87% (2010 Glenmary report) don’t attend a worship service, as close as it may be.
The local school represents a God-given opportunity for evangelism and missions if relationships are built upon trust and the meeting of needs. The local church is poised by its proximity to produce the greatest possible Kingdom results and community impact in the most efficient, effective and expedient way.
Depending upon the community, there are approximately 5 churches for every public school in the state. Imagine the Kingdom impact and community transformation that would happen if churches adopted schools. Things the church can do in and for the school include:
- mentoring students
- after school tutoring
- assist with festivals, carnivals and parties
- minister to teachers (provide breakfast, prayer partners, gifts, etc)
- supply school supplies or educational resources
- clean or paint classrooms
- landscape around the building
- volunteer to serve as teacher’s aids
If there’s uncertainty on the part of the school, suggest that you begin with a “semester of service” as a way of introducing the concept. This allows the school to experience how beneficial the church’s involvement can be to the students and their families, teachers and staff.
I saw firsthand the impact that an adoption can make when Christ Community Church reached out and adopted Southside Elementary School. After a couple of years into the adoption, the school’s academic growth surpassed 90% of the elementary schools in the state. They earned a special distinction as a “High Progressing” school, finishing in the 71st percentile, up from the previous 14th percentile rating. Southside’s principal contributed the amazing turn-around to a team effort involving teachers, the church and the local community. The church’s involvement presented opportunity for sharing the gospel, gave them credibility with teachers, and opened doors with the community and the school system for future ministry. It’s now common for school administrators to call upon the church about needs and ministry opportunities relating to students and staff.
When God says that He is a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5), He is not speaking about some intangible heavenly spirit. God is a “father to the fatherless” through His church – as they become surrogate parents to students in need. Staggering negative statistics change to successes when Christ followers become mentors and tutors in the local school, providing guidance, instruction and commitment that is missing in a child’s life. Will your church overlook the mission field down the street or will they dive in and serve where others dare to go?