There are just over 3000 schools in London. Imagine if every one of them was prayed for, supported and intentionally visited by members of their local church! Today, the National Day of Prayer for Schools is a great opportunity for us to run with this vision and consider some ways we can ‘adopt’ our local school and offer every child in London the chance to hear the saving message of Jesus. Here are five simple steps:
A D O P T
A: Become AWARE
Are you aware of the schools in your local area? A simple Google search can give you an insight into the school’s vision and ethos – how secular or faith-based are they? You can also discover what extra curricular activities they run (or don’t run) – is there a sewing club or a gardening club your church could offer to run? A short walk around the area can also help you discover the upkeep of parks (or lack of), the cultural and social demographic, various places of worship and any community projects taking place. Any of these ideas can help us become more familiar with the needs and strengths of our local schools, helping us to pray more specifically, and find gaps that we could potentially fill as the local church.
Due to the pressures currently facing schools there is opportunity to build relationships, alongside a statutory requirement for the Christian faith to be taught in every school. Schools are full of young people growing up in a secular society, most will not even have a Christian friend who can tell them about Jesus or invite them to church. Becoming aware of what opportunities there are to make connections can help get the ball rolling as we seek to build relationships with our local schools for the gospel.
D: DEVELOP what is already happening
Our churches often already have natural connections with local schools through the parents, school staff, or young people who are part of the congregation. How can we support and equip them to develop these connections?
Parents can make a huge impact on a school. Whether it is conversations at the school gate, the offer of help with trips, clubs and reading, becoming a school governor or joining a Parents Association. As parents of pupils, they are already building connections and gaining trust. They will likely have full schedules, but are there any new initiatives they are keen to explore? Why not encourage parents in your church to think about how they can maximise the connections they already have?
Most church congregations will have adults who work in a school, whether it is teaching, support, admin, lunchtime or premises staff. They’re perfectly placed to begin connecting your church to the school. Why not ask them about ways you can pray for and support them in their roles?
The Schools Team at LCM are developing a programme to equip young people in their own witness at their local school. It might be as 'simple' as silently praying for the person they sit next to in Maths, or acknowledging they are a Christian in RE discussions. Some children are up for meeting with Christian friends at lunch time and inviting their non-Christian friends to look at the Bible together. If this can be encouraged, it would mean that every Christian young person has the potential to be a key link between their church and their own ‘Schools Ministry’ five days a week, six hours a day. Imagine the impact they could have. We want to journey with them wherever they might be on their own faith journey to understand the gospel personally and then be given the tools to tell others. If your church is interested in piloting this exciting new programme where together we explore what support young people need to grow in confidence and take small steps of faith, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
O: Make an OFFER
What can you offer your local school community from what your church is already doing? It could be a great opportunity to build a relationship with them offering information about your church’s foodbank, CAP course, toddler group, children’s activities or Christmas Carol Service. Most schools will welcome a church offering practical support for their more vulnerable families.
Prayer is so important, and there are many things to pray for. Key times in the academic year like the start of the new term in September, the summer exam period, OFSTED inspections and significant moments like the beginning and end of primary and secondary school are perfect reminders of when and what to pray. Why not include prayer for your local school at church prayer meetings, on Sunday mornings, during prayer walks, at youth and children’s meetings, or coffee mornings? You could also connect parents with children at the same school, and encourage them to meet up and pray together. Click here to see our prayer resources to help both adults and children pray for their local school.
T: Get TRAINED up
Schools love it when local volunteers offer to come in and share their own experience as part of an RE lesson. It only takes one or two people with some spare time in the day to give a short talk on ‘Why Christians read the Bible’ or ‘How Christians pray’. Those with more time could deliver an assembly, host a Christmas/Easter experience, or be trained to run LCM’s Operation Forgiveness workshop for a day. If you prefer interacting in smaller groups, mentoring or music tuition can be hugely rewarding. Churches blessed with their own buildings could invite classes in to visit (a statutory visit for all primary pupils) and experience a tour or an interactive session. Hosting a Holiday Club is also a great way to support families who struggle in the school holidays with child care or finding affordable and fun things to do.
Wherever your church is on their journey of ‘adopting’ their local school, the LCM Schools Team would love to come alongside you to encourage, support, and provide any necessary training to help you build a positive and meaningful relationship with your local school.
Click here to enquire about training, or email Charlie MacDonald, Schools Team Lead, to find out more email@example.com