All of our students have some sort of experience with school. A good chunk most likely attend a public school in town; others may be homeschooled, private schooled, attending online school, or maybe even some combination of these! When it comes to blessing students in our community, I would suggest that school can be a great and easy place to start.
I started substitute teaching when we moved to Lansing, Michigan. I knew I wanted to be involved in the lives of students in our community, and being a substitute teacher was one way to do that. Another way that I have gotten to know students in our community is through a church program that I inherited. For years, our church has hosted a weekly open-gym program for students to come and hang out after school to play basketball and have a safe space to be for a few hours. Every time students enter our building, we are given the chance to share God’s love and grace!
Last year, I was subbing at the school behind our church where most of our weekly gym kids come from. I will never forget the moment one of the gym kids came into my class, realized who I was, and ran to tell all of his friends that they better not mess with the sub that day. I think it was the biggest compliment I have ever received! Even though this student didn’t really know me that well, he knew that our church loved him, and that was enough. As we look to bless the students in our community, we don’t have to have the biggest budgets or even the craziest ideas; we can start by looking at the gaps that exist and offering what is possible for where we’re at.
As we look to bless the students in our community, we don’t have to have the biggest budgets or even the craziest ideas; we can start by looking at the gaps that exist and offering what is possible for where we’re at.
1. Fill in the gaps at their schools
What gaps exist in the schools around you? If you have a day of the week or even a half-day of free-time, consider finding a way to get involved. Many schools are in need of reliable and caring adults to help out, and it will give you an amazing opportunity to get to know the students in your community! You are blessing them by both making sure they are taken care of for the day and loving them by showing them that you care. What other gaps exist? For many teachers, extra snacks or supplies for students are coming out of their own budget. Could your ministry help to provide snacks for students who may be hungry? Maybe you don’t have a full day to give up, but could you consider being a lunch monitor or a tutor? There are a lot of ways to bless our students through their schools!
2. Fill in the gaps after school
Where could you be present after school gets out? If your church has a building with extra space and you’re near a school, consider offering a safe place for students to gather or receive homework help. Maybe something like this already exists in your community, which is great! Can you partner with that organization? Even if it is only a few hours a month, could you help supervise students at the local after school program? Another way to bless the students after school may be to connect with students before or after football and basketball games, especially if sporting events are big in your area. Could your church host a tailgate party or a 5th quarter after the big game?
3. Fill in the gaps around the school
The third way to bless students in your community involves looking at what needs exist in your neighborhood. Is there a local food pantry your church can be involved in, or maybe a local shelter that is in need of volunteers or donations? By involving ourselves in the needs of our community, we will definitely encounter students and families who need extra love and support. Do you have students in your youth group who can come along with you? Leading our students should involve serving others, so how can you include your youth group in these times? Showing our students what it means to be a part of the church in the world is so important, and it will hopefully be a blessing to them as well.
By involving ourselves in the needs of our community, we will definitely encounter students and families who need extra love and support.
As you continue to find ways to bless the students in your community, know that God goes with you and will shine through you in every interaction!