Partnering with schools is a great way for churches to get plugged into the community and serve other people. Below are five tips for churches to connect with local schools:
Come with ideas
Come to the school with a few ideas of ways you’d like to be involved with the school, such as a school supplies drive or a reading buddies program. This gives the school a better vision of how your church can help them and their students. That being said, don’t come with everything planned out - be willing to listen to their needs and make adjustments. They know the needs of their school better than you do, and once you’ve opened the conversation, they will be more likely to communicate those needs.
Make a long-term commitment
Forming a partnership with a school shouldn’t just be a one-time event. It should be an on-going thing. Make a long-term commitment to stay with the school and help it for years to come. One great way to do this is by starting a graduation ministry that encourages kids to stay in school and helps them prepare for college. For younger kids that might look like weekly tutoring, and for high schoolers this could include hosting SAT/ACT prep sessions, helping students with financial aid forms and providing guidance with college selection. The Texas Baptists Hispanic Education Initiative has some great materials to prepare for higher education. Let the schools know that your church is trustworthy and will be there to support them and their students.
Look for partners
You don’t have to do this alone! See if any of the other churches in the area have partnered with schools or held events. Glean from their wisdom, and see if they would be willing to work with you. More people and resources mean a bigger impact. Or find a pre-existing organization that can help you get started. For example, Kids Beach Club is an exceptional program to get involved with, and they will help you establish a meaningful program with your school.
Teachers and principals can face a lot of negative feedback from a variety of sources: parents, school boards and even the students themselves. These leaders are nurturing and shaping the next generation. Showing them love can be an important way to build strong relationships with the school. Try writing them cards, making goodie bags for them or hosting a teachers’ appreciation dinner.
The needs and struggles of schools are always changing. Stay up-to-date on what is happening in the school so that your ministries can continue to provide relevant services. Communicating with the school administrator regularly and seeking their input is essential. You can keep the community involved too and invite a panel of school leaders to speak at your church.
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This article was originally published on Aug. 22, 2019. It was updated on Aug. 5, 2021.