Three years ago Christ Church made a strategic decision to adopt a public school in Fort Worth, Texas. Since that time, we’ve adopted one high school and one elementary school. When we made this decision, we had no idea the impact God would allow us to have. Today I sat down with one of our pastors who has been instrumental in driving this initiative. Here are ten ways we adopted public schools and specific ideas you can employ to impact a school in your community.
1. Listen, Focus, and Act with the Right Attitude – Churches and leaders must approach their adopt-a-school efforts with one pure-hearted motive: “We’re here to serve…no strings attached.” Any other attitude will backfire. The key is to LISTEN carefully to the primary needs expressed by the administration, teachers, and students. Once you listen, strategically FOCUS your time, volunteers, and resources on the needs you’re best equipped to meet. With clear focus, ACT with excellence. Over the past three years, we’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars to help two campuses. We can’t meet every need, but we’ve built a tremendous amount of goodwill and helped many teachers and students.
2. Bless Teachers and Students – Teachers often have a thankless job and many students today are living in dysfunctional home environments. To brighten everyone’s day, we’ve served countless breakfasts and lunches to teachers and student groups. In addition, we’ve provided teachers and administrators with Christmas gifts as a simple expression of thanks.
3. Open Your Facilities – Each year we host dozens of school events and activities in our facilities free of charge. Whether it’s teacher training, principal training, choir concerts, special programs, ESL classes, Fish Camp, end of year celebrations, AP testing, or specific student groups, we work hard to accommodate many of the school’s activities. With school budget cuts, many of these activities would be limited or non-existent because they do not have a cost effective place to meet. This year alone we’ve had over 3,000 principals, teachers, students, and parents on our campus…some on multiple occasions.
4. Sponsor Opportunities That Broaden Horizons – For the last two years, we’ve helped the high school we’ve adopted by sponsoring a college trip for juniors. The trip includes visits to a couple of college campuses to encourage students to expand their horizons and pursue their college dreams.
5. Fund Dreams and Initiatives – When one of our pastors heard that the school’s basketball scoreboard wasn’t working, he found a coach and told him we would like to pay to have it fixed. The coach was moved to tears and said, “You would do that for us?” We’ve had the opportunity to fund drill team and track team travel expenses, and sponsor a student government trip to their annual convention. And, just last Sunday, we honored an elderly couple in our congregation who have blazed a path of faithful commitment to Christ. This couple loves to read and throughout their lives have blessed many people with books. So, in their honor, we committed $5,000 to fund the completion of book purchases for a library at a local public elementary school. Acts like these make dreams come true for students and teachers and build goodwill with the campus.
6. Mobilize Volunteers – Many times volunteers have helped with landscaping, hanging bulletin boards, washing windows, and cleaning the campus. On one occasion, we mobilized nearly 100 members from small groups to serve the campus as a Saturday morning service project. On another occasion, we labeled all of the textbooks for a new elementary school and help teachers set up their classrooms.
7. Pay Attention to Personal Needs – Sometimes it’s easy to forget that each teacher and student has a personal story. While we cannot change every person’s life, we can do for one what we wish we could do for all. When a teacher from the school was burglarized, we gave them a gift card to help replace items that were stolen from her home. In addition, just last week, a member of our congregation, after learning of the tragic murder of one student’s mother, stepped forward to help that student make her dreams of going to college a reality. Listen to the personal needs of teachers and students and then do for one what you wish you could do for all.
8. Partner with School Programs – The high school we’ve adopted offers a program that helps potential first-generation college students pursue a college education. The program prepares students with note taking and study skills, helps with college applications, and much more. We’ve partnered with this program by providing supplies, hosting meetings, and connecting students with adults who care.
9. Host School Assemblies & Outreach Opportunities – Earlier this year we conducted two daytime school assemblies for 1,400 students. Because of the time and resources invested in the school, these students heard a positive anti-drug message. In addition, that night, 430 students and leaders came to an after school rally on our campus where 111 students made commitments to Christ.
10. Pray for the Campus – We regularly highlight our adopt-a-school efforts and encourage people to pray. Whether it’s personally adopting a student in prayer or focusing on the school during a corporate prayer gathering, we recognize that prayer is essential to impacting our local schools.
The needs on local school campuses are too much for one person, or one church, to solve alone. But what could happen if we all worked together to invest in administrators, teachers, and students? God has given you and your church gifts, abilities, resources, and ideas that can make a difference. The question is, what will you do with them to serve a campus in need?
Question: What other ideas do you have to impact a local school?