What Schools Can Learn From Churches
Trends in children's ministry apply to public education.
Also of Interest
Stronger parents will mean stronger families. Schools want stronger families. Churches do too. The difference is that the churches are taking a more direct and active role in reaching out to parents. Schools can and should do the same. Neither entity needs to worry about competition—there are plenty of parents reached by no one today.
Number 3: Engage Men
While leading a children's ministry, a great truth became clear: If you need men to get involved, you must ask them. Directly. And preferably man-to-man.
Allow me to generalize: Walk into a PTA or other school-based volunteer organization, and females will dominate the attendance sheet. Most school functions, regardless of the day or time, will also involve mostly female volunteers. Some would argue that this is the reason why these events run well. While there's nothing wrong with this reality, what message do kids receive from men's absence? Maybe none. But then again, would anyone suggest that men (again a generalization) are, overall, so involved in kids' lives today that they deserve a pass on school involvement?
I need not even start to count the number of over-involved dads I know; there are none. Including me. So how does a school crack the gender-involvement code?
As mentioned earlier, churches recognize the need to involve men and see it as a surmountable challenge. A leader I once worked with named Fred experienced great success because he boldly approached dads and, with a firm handshake and bright smile, asked them to volunteer in his room. I often heard him say, "It will mean the world to your son/daughter, and all the kids around you will love having you here, too." Worked every time; how could that message miss? Over 60 percent of his volunteers were men. Oh, I should mention that Fred headed up the room in our church exclusively for two-year-olds!
Educators should mimic Fred and his simple method. Kids of all ages need to see more men involved in church and at school.
Schools learning from churches, and churches learning from schools? Too often, all that's reported is the boundary mandated between the two. That should change. Kids, parents, and families will benefit when "separation" can coexist with "cooperation" of church and state.
David Staal, senior editor for Building Church Leaders and a mentor to a Kindergarten boy, serves as the president of Kids Hope USA, a national non-profit organization that partners local churches with elementary schools to provide mentors for at-risk students. David is the author of Lessons Kids Need to Learn (Zondervan, 2012) and lives in Grand Haven, MI, with his wife Becky, son Scott, and daughter Erin.
©2012, David Staal
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