The 5: A new school year brings with it great ministry opportunities

I knew I wanted to teach when I was five years old, and the Lord has granted me opportunities through local churches and seminaries for several decades now. At this time of year, my heart still leaps when I see school buses running and hear classroom bells ringing. I know, too, that local schools are great mission fields. Here are five ways your church might take on the task of ministering to schools in your area as a new school year nears:

1

Enlist a separate prayer team to pray for each school within your ministry area
Start here, seeking the Lord’s wisdom as you plan your ministry. Many of the folks in the schools don’t know Jesus. Some students deal with tough home lives. Public places can also become dangerous places. You will likely need several prayer warriors to cover all the schools in your area, but you can never have too many people praying. Pray … and then pray some more. 

2

Pray over and commission the teachers in your congregation as they start a new year
The teachers in your church have opportunities every day to be light in the darkness, hope for the hopeless, and consistency for kids whose adult relationships are sometimes inconsistent (in fact, I’ve often thought about spending the last years of my career in the public school system for this very reason). Pray over your teachers—and send them out as an extension of your church’s ministry. 

3

Talk with the superintendent and school principals
to see what needs your church might help meet
Think like a missionary. Don’t assume you know what the needs are; instead, investigate and ask. You might be surprised by the ethnic makeup, the languages spoken, the needs unmet in schools within walking distance of your church building. I’ve seen churches paint halls, clean classrooms, offer tutoring, do landscaping, and provide breakfast for teachers. 

4

Provide school supplies for students and classes
Many teachers I know buy supplies with their own funds. Every class likely includes students whose families cannot provide basic supplies for them. Build relationships with local business leaders (which would also be good for your church’s witness), and work together to provide some of these supplies. Surprise the teachers and students at the beginning of the year, and the start to a new academic year will be filled with encouragement. 

5

Don’t forget universities near your church
Their students are different. Their needs are unique. But, ministry opportunities to influence a generation making life decisions abound on university campuses. Connect with Baptist Collegiate Ministry leaders and other evangelical leaders on campus, and help them. Meet with administrators to learn about needs your church might meet. Do something to make a difference among adult learners, too! 

Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.

Dean of Doctoral Studies, Vice President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers
Chuck Lawless
Southeastern Seminary
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