- Assess the current state of the relationship. How many people from the church are actively relating with teachers, staff, children and their parents from the school?Don’t be discouraged if it is only one or two people. One person can have a huge impact. Rev. Jason Snow became a well known and loved friend of dozens of teachers, staff and families in just one hour a week over the course of a school year. Here is his brief video story:
Brainstorm with those involved. “What would God do with the next group of people like us who become involved with the school?”
- Move the relationship toward a deeper personal connection.Some churches raise money for someone from the school to use to purchase food, backpacks or school supplies that the school distributes to children. That’s great!. The next step for this church might be to help the staff purchase the supplies and become better acquainted with the staff. A pastor or Reaching New People team member could simply ask “How could we become better acquainted with our staff partners at the school?”For churches that are already involved in purchasing and delivering supplies and who have a strong relationship already with the staff, the next step might be to volunteer time working alongside some of the children as tutors, reading buddies, lunch buddies, and after-school volunteers. In so doing, you are expanding the number and quality of relationships in whom you are investing.
As you volunteer alongside students, pray for them the way Jesus directed. Don’t make a show of it, not even letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Also listen for ways that your life or the life of your church might intersect the life of their family. Do you live in the same neighborhood? Shop at the same stores? Do you come from the same home town? Do you have children or grandchildren or mothers or fathers of similar ages or stations? Do you have similar interests in sports, entertainment? These intersections are the places where an invitation might be appropriate that will allow you to introduce them to a larger circle of friends in the church.
- GUARDRAIL to respect: No public schools need or want church members proselytizing students or staff on the school campus. The purpose of building relationships with students, teachers, staff and parents is to strengthen the connections and increase the visibility of church members “being the church” by caring and supporting people. There is a time and place for testifying to our faith and offering invitations to church. But that is not on the public school campus during school time.