by Chuck Bomar, adapted from his new book Serving Local Schools: Bring Christ’s Compassion to the Core of Your Community.
The goal of my book Serving Local Schools is simple: to help the average Christian fruitfully engage their community. I believe the local public schools provide the means for this like no other.
- If your church wants to discover the real needs of your community and have a lasting impact through meeting those needs, start with the closest public school.
- If you want to follow the example of Jesus and extend God’s love to the disadvantaged, start with the public school.
- If you want to build relationships with people across the socioeconomic spectrum in your zip code, start with the local public school.
- If you want to teach your children how to notice the needs of others where they live, start by getting involved at a local public school.
- If you want to know your community beyond your immediate circle of friends, get involved with the public schools.
The Best Asset You Can Offer
The best asset you can offer a school is not a program or a project—it’s people.
There will always be financial and facility needs. But there’s something special about an individual walking into the front office and simply saying they want to volunteer their time as a member of the community.
Here is a list of 9 things you might consider:
- Coach a sport or run a theater program.
- Offer to volunteer answering the phone a couple of hours a week. Teachers are often on a rotation for things like this, and some have to give up their “prep” period to do this. Your help can free up those teachers and give you a consistent presence in the school.
- Tutor a kid or two or three. Every school has kids in dire need of someone who cares. This is also a fantastic connection with the families of students.
- Join a team. Become a member of groups such as the PTA or sit on the school’s site council. These committees provide meaningful connections with parents and other community members. My wife is the PTO secretary, and I sit on the site council of our daughters’ school. It’s a wonderful way that we as parents can be a resource.
- Go to school board meetings. You can give your input as well as get an inside view of how the school board makes decisions that affect your community’s schools.
- Get technical. If you have some sort of skill set in technology, offer your assistance. There is always a need for computer skills, website help, and even help with the school network administration.
- Drive places. Teachers are always in need of parents to chaperone field trips.
- Volunteer with a teacher. Teachers do a lot more than just teach kids. There is a ton of organization necessary, tests and homework to be graded, and a number of other things that require the teacher’s time.
- Volunteer at the school library. Most schools are short on funding to pay someone to run their library, so they rely on volunteer help to keep the library open for students. Offer to check out books for people or stock them. Assist students or even offer to donate money for some needed books.
All of the things I have mentioned here are simple ideas, but they take creativity and some effort to make them work. Remember that the project or program is not the goal. It’s a means to an end—showing God’s love to those at the core of our community. We do that by following Jesus in the giving of ourselves. Because public schools usually have their fingers on the pulse of the community, if you start out by asking what they need, you’ll likely find ways you can assist.
By being involved in these ways, we gain credibility and trust, both as individuals and as a church community. We also gain insight into how people are devoting their lives, what they care about, and what frustrates them. The principal of the school my daughters attend, Mr. Blasquez, is a wonderful man who loves his job and truly wants what is best for the kids attending his school. I know this because he has taken the time to sit down with me over lunch and to share his vision for the school. As a parent, I am excited to help him achieve that vision. He is even helping us achieve ours. He is not a Christian but recently joined me in all our church services. I interviewed him about the growing needs in the schools. It was a wonderful time! You see, over time, opportunities arise to share why we are involved. And when this happens in the context of a relationship, it’s a powerful testimony to God’s love.
Everyone can have impact when they are intentional.
— Chuck Bomar, Serving Local Schools: Bring Christ’s Compassion to the Core of Your Community. Read more of the book to discover how your efforts can have the deepest impact.
How to Use This Book
Serving Local Schools will help your church members find opportunities to work for the common good of students and the community. This is a powerful way to serve, because the heartbeat of every community is found in its local schools.
You will find real-world examples of people that have overcome barriers to partnering with public school leaders in a sustainable way.
By the end of this book, readers will be equipped to serve in the context of public schools while faithfully witnessing to the good news found in Jesus Christ.