It is important to build relationships first.
The other day I wrote a post, “Is Your Ministry A Movement”, which asked the question:
“How are you making your ministry move?”
One of the suggestions was to partner with the community. This enables you to not only influence teens inside your church but also ones who would never even come close to a church. A reader asked specifically, “What would it look like to partner with some of the local schools in order to be a movement in the community?” Here are a few suggestions for you to try in your local schools:
- Recruit Advocates: These might be teachers or coaches (who are members of the church) who act as eyes and ears for your ministry. Have them inform you when anything major happens. They know who the Christian and unchurched teens are and can use you as a resource when appropriate. They are where you cannot always be.
- Outsource: Instead of competing with parachurch organizations like Young Life, look to partner with them. Most of their missions are to reach the unchurched and connect them with a local church. Be that local church for them, and support them to live out their mission. This takes trust, accountability and transparency.
- Commission Your Small Group Leaders: Invest in small group leaders to invest in teens outside your regular gathering. That means encouraging them to go to plays, sporting events, volunteering at dances, etc. It’ll make your presence known in subtle ways and show the teens support in their everyday lives.
- Be a Resource: If you have private schools feeding into your ministry, meet with the campus minister and build a relationship with him or her. Offer your services to help with school retreats, chapel, etc. With public schools, call the principals and guidance counselors and let them know you can be available.
While you might want to start your own programs within schools, look to building relationships first. This way you aren’t competing against others or using up valuable resources. Partnering in the community is intimidating because it means having awkward conversations and allowing other people to critique your ministry. But that’s not a bad thing, because it will hold you accountable and allow you to grow in the best way possible.
How are you partnering with schools in your community?