As the calendar turns to August, it’s back-to-school time for many teachers and students. With the Delta variant causing COVID cases to spike once again, local schools are about to begin their third consecutive school year facing a unique set of challenges.
With these challenges looming yet again, the local church has the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in very practical ways. Here are nine ideas for how you and your church can serve the schools in your community:
- Pray. Many churches in my area organize a prayer gathering at the beginning of each school year to pray for teachers, students, and administrators. They will gather in the parking lot at a local school on a Sunday afternoon and simply pray for God’s hand of protection and blessing. In addition to a prayer gathering, you can pray for the local schools in your area throughout the year. If you need some specific ideas for how to pray, check out this post.
- Serve meals to teachers. As teachers and administrators prepare for the upcoming academic year, they usually return to school several days before students arrive. Contact the office and offer to provide lunch for all of the teachers and staff during that time. Your church members can cook and serve the food or have it catered with a few members there to serve. Either way, you’ll show the love of Christ by helping in this way.
- Meet a specific need. Contact a school administrator and set up a meeting to find out if there are particular needs that the school may have. Perhaps your church will be able to meet one or more of those needs. You won’t know unless you ask!
- Drop off goodies regularly. Develop a schedule, and plan to drop off fruit, baked goods, and other items for teachers and staff. You can arrange to do so weekly, monthly, or whatever works best for your church. Again, it’s a small act of kindness, but it can make a tremendous impact as you consistently do so over time.
- Offer free tutoring services. Perhaps you have some retired teachers in your church. Maybe you have business professionals who would love to help out. You can contact your local school to offer free tutoring services, either virtual or in-person.
- Adopt a school playground. Contact the school administrator, and offer to adopt their playground. This means that your church will make sure all of the equipment has a fresh coat of paint. It means that your church will make sure that it’s free from litter. It means that your church may donate new equipment from time to time. Whatever ways you choose to make the playground enjoyable and safe for the children, do it!
- Donate school supplies. Many churches host a back-to-school event each year. During the event, they often provide backpacks full of school supplies. Others offer a shoe giveaway to make sure each child has one new pair of shoes. Work with your local school or family resource center to identify a list of supplies.
- Send notes of encouragement. Teachers and staff have faced significant challenges during the past two academic years, and they are facing another difficult year ahead. They are stressed and would benefit from a regular dose of encouragement. You and your church can provide that encouragement. One way to do so is by writing hand-written notes of encouragement and sending them to the teachers in your local school on a regular basis. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them that you’re praying for them. Tell them that Jesus loves them, and you do too. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way!
- Insert your own idea here. Talk with your small group or Sunday School class and brainstorm other ways that your church can serve your local schools. Be as creative as you’d like. The possibilities are endless!
Remember, as your church serves your local schools in these and other ways, you do so out of love. As John reminds us in 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” In other words, you want to love your local schools by the deeds that you complete in Jesus’ name, but you also should love them in truth. That means that you look for opportunities to share the good news of the gospel with the ones you serve. And I’ve found the more you love them in deed, the more likely they will give you a fair hearing as you love them in truth as well!