“Service” Opens The Doors; The Church's Role In Public Education
At a recent prayer meeting, participants prayed for God to be in our public schools, claiming that the Word no longer can be taught in our schools as the downfall for the public school system. The evangelical church has help feed the mantra of the secular world that “bad teachers are the cause for failing schools in America.” I would like to refute two myths: 1) God is not in our public schools, and 2) Bad teachers are the cause of America’s failures. I would like to finish by showing what I believe is what the Church’s role should be to the public American School System. In this last blog of a three part series lets look at……
What should the Church be doing in all of this? “Serve” the public school, not just criticize.
Most schools are looking for volunteers to serve. Youth ministers could hang out in the cafeteria, helping the school with Lunch Duty, crowd control, and getting to know the kids. Guidance Offices would love to partner with Youth ministries to help single parent students, students whose parents don’t parent, the lonely kid, the abused kid, the kid just looking to get a break or be loved, etc. There are a lot of opportunities for the Church to serve rather than taking the high elitist role and only criticize.
They key to the First Priority Club’s success came in Dee, a parent whose oldest daughter came to the club. Dee volunteered as an adult chaperon/advisor. After all three of her girls made it through Middle School, entering the High School, Dee made a key decision to stick with the Middle School program because she loved the kids. She volunteered for over a decade as her own children graduated from High School. She help initiate all the “service” project outlined in an earlier blog even though she came from a strong “evangelistic” church. Because of her willingness to serve, the Period 11 Club time opened up an opportunity for her and her colleagues to come and freely share the gospel to non-church kids in a public school setting.
The Church also needs to be a “Barnabas”, an "encourager", to encourage and support already over worked, over burdened, stressed out teachers who have to meet State Academic Standards, yet treat their students not as statistics but as precious children. Teacher’s are always on the defensive now, very seldom getting any thanks, praise, or respect from the general public for what they do. A positive email, thank your card, or even parental phone call would go a long way. I have discovered those who practice this are also phenomenal parents and whose children are great students. Administrators are leery of Christian organizations or churches, because few of them serve, but most of them criticize and make it look as if public schools are their enemy, not their ally.
The Church can institute “respect” for authority back into its members and encourage their youth in the importance of a good education. With all that dedicated teacher do, parents should honor and lift them up when talking about them around their kitchen tables.
Do Church Youth Ministries “equip”, train, or prepare their youth to “serve” their non-Christian peers in school? Most churches don’t want the rift-raft, the feared bullies, those in the trailer park or housing projects to influence their children, so they don’t want their Youth groups to reach out to their peers, inviting them to their Youth group. I know this to be the attitude in most Christian churches today. Churched parents want their youth to be “protected” from the world. Church Youth ministries should be preparing their youth to be salt & light in a mission field of their schools rather than protective organizations to shield the youth from the world. Most “Good Church Kids” are lousy missionaries, not knowing what to do when with their unsaved, un-churched peers. They can raise money and go on a mission’s trip to a third world country, but they have not been trained how to deal with the daily mission’s trip to school.
Most public school administrators look at most religious organizations as kooks, and frankly, I don’t blame them. Rather than being served by them, they get preached at, usually in a hell-fire-and-brimstone format. How can any administrator respect that? Christians who have infiltrated the schools system through service are always welcomed from being on PTA’s or PTO’s at the elementary level, volunteered tutors to struggling students, clerical or teacher aides, duty coverage volunteers, etc.
Public Schools do need prayers; don’t we all? What Public Schools really need are Christians with the heart to “serve”. Through their service, little eyes are watching, learning, benefiting, and eventually giving in service too, because a servant is also a teacher. Students learn to serve by those who serve them, who model how it is done. The Church needs to repent of its elitist attitude, its isolationist attitude, its critical attitude and begin to do what Ephesians 4 calls it to do: serve!