Being involved in a local church school again after a lot of years, I have been intrigued to hear the questions parents ask. About cost of course, but also about issues that never came up when I was a young pastor.
“Do you participate in Little League baseball for our son?” Or “What activities do you sponsor here that will help keep my teenager occupied after school?”
Now I believe in keeping our kids active. They live longer; they live happier. And they have less time to get into trouble. But what if we were to blow the doors off when the conversation drifts in that direction? What if we were to answer something like this: “Well, we have a strong health education program here that helps keep our students physically and mentally fit, but more than that, each school year they are involved in some major project to help change their world? Our younger kids may go and sing to shut-ins, or rake their grass, walk their pets, or run errands. Even go shopping.
“As they move through the grades the projects get more demanding. They may paint someone’s house or put on a new roof. Or install a new toilet. Oh, and the roof project…they’ll measure the house, figure the pitch of the roof, calculate the amount of shingles, estimate the costs, present a budget, study safety measures for being on a roof, find out where to borrow ladders, and then clean up afterward. It’s hard work but it’s lots more rewarding than winning a football game. They may not have a plaque in the school’s trophy case, but they’ve got a neighbor down the street who knows that next time it rains he’s not going to have water dripping off the light fixture in his kitchen.” I know, it will take some copious parental involvement, but it seems to me like that’s part of the blueprint.
“And before they move on from this school they must have participated in at least one “mission trip,” where they go to some strange place, sleep on the floor, build a school building, plant a garden, dig a well, or in some other way change someone’s world. And they come back tougher, and grateful, feeling less entitled and less inclined to lesser goals. And more ready to live lives that continue to change their world. We think that’s more valuable to them than T-ball.”
A church seriously dedicated to discipleship has to discover ways to dial its kids in early.
(Administrator’s note: Do you have expansion space on your campus? You may need it.)
-By Don Jacobsen