Your Local School: A Hub for Missional Engagement
We chose our home in Edgewater, Colorado as a missionary would. We thought and prayed for months that God would lead us to the right home where we could missionally engage the community and join the King in spreading his Kingdom. God planted us in Edgewater and we enrolled our daughters in our local, public elementary school.
We are still at the beginning stages of investing in our community but we have been amazed at how our local school is becoming a great hub for missional engagement. Here’s what we’ve experienced so far:
Finding a Person of Peace in the school is essential
Luke records Jesus sending out the 72 to spread his Kingdom and tells them to look for a person of peace in the town (Luke 10:6). This is a person who is drawn to the company of Christ followers and serves alongside them. For more on “persons of peace,” read this post from Ben Sternke. In our case the person of peace is a staff member at the school who had connected with our lead pastor on multiple occasions and was open to what we were doing. She has the trust of the other staff members and knows a lot of the parents at the school. Without her support and engagement, we would not have been able to get a foot in the door.
Don’t assume you know the solutions
My wife Hillary and I went into a meeting with the principal hoping that we could start a PTA at the school. We thought that would be a great way to make a difference in the school and help engage more parents. We quickly learned that a PTA would not be the best solution. So we changed course in the middle of the meeting. We asked the principal what the school needed. It is important to listen first and not assume that we know the solutions.
Inviting to a Community Group is a lot easier that inviting to church
We started a Community Group (or what others call “missional communities”) in Edgewater that is committed to the monthly rhythms of eating together, studying Scripture, prayer, serving the school and parties. The city allows us to use their recreation room for free on a weekly basis which has been a huge blessing. As we connect with parents at school, we invite them to the Community Group and they are intrigued by a group that is committed to serving the school and doing life together. It sounds different than what they would normally think of “church.” And for many they are looking for a place to serve and make a difference. The Community Group is a great first step.
Be present at the school as much as possible
My wife serves twice a week at school in each of our daughters’ classrooms. We both go on field trips. We take a weekly Spanish class with other parents at the school. I drop off our kids at school each morning and we both pick them up from school. Being present at the school gives us a chance to connect on an ongoing basis with parents and teachers. It has been amazing to see people from Community Group on a regular basis at school. It helps us feel like we are truly doing life together. It’s far more powerful than just seeing people every Sunday at church.
Serving the school
On a monthly basis we serve at the school together as a Community Group. We’ve done yard work, cleaned up flower beds and painted picnic tables. As we serve together we hope to encourage those in the Community Group to serve individually at the school during the month. Our church historically has planned a Halloween Kids Carnival for kids in the neighborhood surrounding the church. This year we decided to double our efforts and plan a Halloween Kids Carnival at the school. It was awesome to partner with parents from the school and Community Group members to pull off an awesome carnival! Just another way that we serve the school and make a tangible difference in the lives of the children in our community.
The school as a missional hub
As we are present at the school and building relationships with teachers, staff and parents we are noticing the King at work in his Kingdom. It’s not like we are bringing the Kingdom; it was already here. We serve a King who loves his people and is drawing us to himself. We just get to join in on what he is already doing. The school has been a great hub to connect those into a caring community who is doing life together and seeking to find out what it means to be a follower of Christ. It is exciting to see how this school is integral to our Community Group and how God is connecting people to himself through these relationships!