A couple decades ago a youth pastor from an area church could pretty much grab some pizzas, show up at school, and hang out with students during lunch. Today, a twenty-something year old dude showing up at a school makes people nervous.
A lot has changed over the past several years. Sure, there are still some places where student pastors are welcomed into schools, but in a day of school lockdowns and global terrorism, schools are understandably more cautious. The fact remains: the public school offers the greatest mission field in America, especially in terms of reaching young people. How do we minister to this great arena? We wrote a whole book about that called Get Out. Here are a few principles for starters:
1. Before you do anything to minister to schools, pray.
Pray before you go. Pray as you’re going. Pray when you leave. God opens up the doors that we often close because of our own spiritual stupidity. When we bathe ministry in prayer God understands that we are not trying to do something without His help. We get out while holding His hand along the way.
2. Follow any and all rules that the high school and middle school campuses have.
No, the visitor tags aren’t hipster, but they are effective. Wearing them not only identifies you to everyone, but it also tells the office staff that you’re truly there to serve them and their school. Unfortunately, some of you may not be highly favored because of other churches in the area or your predecessor’s unwillingness to follow said rules. Dress like a grown up, not like a high school freshman.
3. Start with the administration, getting to know the principal, receptionist, coaches, and others.
The two most vital people you want to get to know are the receptionist and the principal.
4. Be involved with FCA or whatever Christian organization there is on the campus.
That’s the most welcoming environment to you as a minister in the area.
Header image provided through Creative Commons by kohlmann.sascha.