“If Johnny Can’t Read, Our Church Can’t Grow!” – 5 Things Any Church Can Do To Serve Local Schools This Fall
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”Â - Jeremiah 29:7 (ESV)
It has become increasingly evident that the level of aÂ local church’s success is directly tied to the level of itsÂ involvement in their local community, specifically the schools.Â Â I have always felt this intuitively but it came into clear focus after a recent conversation withÂ a dear friend who serves as a CommunityÂ Pastor.
He said, “Brian, my philosophy isÂ ’If Johnny can’t read, our church can’tÂ grow!”Â Â The following was his rationale:
- Parents want their children toÂ receive a great education so theyÂ can have a hope and a future.
- Before moving into an area, many parents check the reading and standardized testing scores of the local schools.
- If the scores are good, people move there.Â If they are poor, they do not.
- If people are moving into the community, this reflects theÂ community’sÂ health andÂ subsequentÂ growth.
- A healthy, growingÂ communityÂ givesÂ us a chance to be a healthy, growingÂ church.
- If our community isn’t growing, neither will our church.
- Therefore, if Johnny can’t read, our church can’t grow.
Interestingly, I also recently met with another group of church leaders who felt the need to address illiteracy issues in their community.Â A volunteer leader organicallyÂ launched a mentoring programÂ for 20 at-risk youth who struggled with reading.Â AfterÂ completing the program, 19 or the 20 young people subsequently passed their standardized tests.Â Â As a bonus, many of these students and theirÂ familiesÂ now attend the church.
Engaging the schools in your area pays high dividends for local churches.Â If you are looking toÂ serve your local school system, hereÂ are fiveÂ easy,Â initial steps any church can take:
- Ask forÂ yourÂ school’s Performance Action Plan or equivalent.Â This is a documentÂ outlining theÂ school administration’s goals and objectives for the upcomingÂ year and beyond.Â Â Churches effectivelyÂ serveÂ schools andÂ their leaders byÂ understanding and helping themÂ achieve the objectives of their Action Plans.
- Provide teachers gift bags at the beginning of the school year.Â Many schools will have new teachers this fall.Â These teachers are not only new to the school, but also new to the community.Â What a great, practical way to welcome them to theÂ schoolÂ while also introducingÂ them to your church.
- Once a week, provide breakfast for the teachers, janitors, and administrators.Â I recommend Chick-fil-AÂ biscuits but cinnamon roles work nicely as well.
- FeedÂ your local high school football teams.Â SimplyÂ partner withÂ a local barbecue or Italian restaurant to cater the meal.Â It will come at a reduced cost because restaurants desire to be part of the community’s fabric.Â It also provides them high-impact, low-cost advertising options.
- Here is a unique twist onÂ the last point.Â Â We all know that everyone loves the footballÂ team but did you know thatÂ the band often has more members thanÂ the football team?Â Feeding the bandÂ will provide your church significant ministry impact and exposure.
There are many creative strategies currently being utilized byÂ churches to engage their local school systems such as backpacks, shoes, and reading glasses.Â What are some additional practical ideas you are successfully using that youÂ would like to pass along toÂ church leaders?
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