I don’t know about you but I bake in the fall. I know it’s not really fall, but I’m pretending that it’s a crisp 71 degrees out and that pumpkins and funky little gourds line my porch. Back to school time trips my inner seasonal trigger and friends, the fall trigger has been tripped.
In the last 3 days, I’ve baked 4 batches of molasses-ginger cookies, 4 batches of chocolate chip cookies and one pound cake. I licked the bowl all 9 times and then got on the scale every morning this week and wondered why the number just hasn’t budged. Oh well. I’m good at other stuff.
Because schools all over the country are in full swing again and because we’re knee deep in school chatter over here on the blog, I thought I’d take a break from all the cookie making and weight gaining and hard conversations that wake up all sorts of emotions among us and give us some practical ways that we can love our local public schools.
Part of loving our neighbors like we love ourselves is showing up and filling in the gaps in our local communities. By choosing to be active participants in our local public schools, even if we do not have children that attend those schools, we get to climb down off the hill and shine our lights directly into places that need our Light the most. We also get to lift up the arms of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are fighting the good fight from the front of the classroom.
And here’s the good news: Loving our local public schools has the potential to radically change our world for Jesus. And it’s FUN.
So let’s get at it!
If you live twenty minutes from your local school but your church is a few streets over from a school, grab your small group and commit to own that school. Draw a circle around that school and stake your claim on it. Jesus lives in you and you have the authority to fly a big ol’ Jesus flag over that building. And then PRAY like you know Jesus is going to open up the heavens and redeem every broken thing in that school. Because He can. Believe it.
2.) Become your principal’s greatest asset.
Be available. Be committed. Be respectful of his position and then posture yourself accordingly and wash his feet. Your principal is your ticket into the school. And he desires for you to be there. But not with your own agenda. Listen to what he deems as the biggest needs he has and then do all that is within you to meet those needs.
3.) Love the entire staff.
Public schools are run by administrative staff, teachers, coaches, cafeteria staff and janitors. Love the entire staff by organizing an early morning breakfast to feed everyone. Drop it off with a note of appreciation. Drop off Chick-Fil-A trays at lunch. Give 2 hours a week to organize closets, make copies, give bathroom breaks. Buy school supplies and furnish the teachers with enough pencils to make it through the year. Get a local business to donate gift cards for free coffee. Remember Teacher Appreciation week and do something awesome. Your goal is to communicate that you see each person as a valuable asset to the greater community in which you live because love does. Lift a head. Breathe life. Give love.
4.) Tutor or mentor the students.
The number one need at our local schools is mentoring. Second is food. Commit to give yourself away to 1 student a year. That means you show up with your whole life and welcome that student in. You tutor. Your inspire. You observe that student and listen to everything he or she is not saying. You make it your mission to love in such a way that your student feels safe in your presence. You get to know their parents.You take them out for frozen yogurt and over for dinner into your home. Your goal is to love so well that your one year commitment becomes a lifetime of relationship. This is how we usher in the kingdom of Jesus.
5.)Support your school’s athletic program.
Leave work an hour early, swing on by the gym and cheer the home team on to victory. Buy a hot dog and a blow pop while you’re there. Sport a school tee-shirt. Drag a cooler of Gatorade onto the field with a crate of Little Debbie’s and rally the team at practice. Get clearance from the principal and throw a tailgate party before a football game and invite the players and their families to come for brats and root beer. Invite every person in your church to fill the entire football stadium at Homecoming and wave pennants and wear your school’s colors. Cheer with wild abandon. Puff up your students with pride for where they come from and your community will reap the dividends in years to come. Your students will give back what they have been given.
6.) Support the arts.
Donate gently used instruments. Supply a class with reeds for the year. Buy a ticket to a show. Design a set for a play. Give music lessons after school for free. Sew costumes. Donate funds to send kids to band camp. Give your school the tools they need to encourage the next generation to make art. We have been made in the image of God with a command to co-create alongside Him. Come alongside your school and see to it that your students have the tools they need to make art with their life.
7.) Use your small life to keep your local public school always before the redeemed of Christ.
Use your voice to speak to the needs you see. Invite others to serve with you. Include your neighbors in your plans to go to the basketball game on Friday night. Ask others to give their resources and their time. Be the quiet beating drum of love for the least of these in your community. You never know who will hear and be moved to follow you into your school.
Welcome to the irresistible revolution, a new and ancient way of life that is so attractive, who would settle for anything else? Welcome to the revolution of little people, guerrilla peacemakers, and dancing prophets, the revolution that loves and laughs. The revolution begins inside of each of us and through little acts of love, it will take over the world. Let us begin to be Christians, again. Jesus, give us the courage.