by Leslie Bolser
Several months ago, I noticed something strange about my youngest daughter’s school. On the exterior of the building, every 20 feet or so, there seemed to be a vertical rectangle of bricks whose color was slightly mismatched from the other bricks. As I looked more carefully, it was clear that those mismatched bricks covered what used to be doors . . . in fact, one door for every classroom. Imagine: open access to the grass, trees, and playground outside. A breeze blowing through the room on warm fall days. Parents dropping off and picking up their children directly from the classroom teacher each day. The school was built in the 1980s, and those doors were there to be opened.
Since that time, unthinkable things have happened to children and teachers in schools across the country and the world. In order to be safe, those doors were bricked over. Now, to enter the school, any person must go through one designated doorway, complete with camera system, intercom, and a gatekeeper just inside the building. In other schools you might find resource officers, metal detectors, or computerized check in systems. As a parent, it can be intimidating. It can also feel like they want us to stay out.
As a church employee or volunteer, it may feel the same when we try to work with or volunteer at our local public school. Doors—real and metaphorical—are locked, and it’s hard not to take that personally.
There are ways, however, that churches all over the country have entered those doors in order to partner with the place where most kids are most of the time: school.
Those churches led by wise men and women chose not to go in:
- The Illegal Door: Regardless of how you feel about the laws that separate church and state, they exist. There’s no gospel message—ever—in this opportunity to serve.
- The Church Growth Door: If your greatest goal is to turn in higher numbers of attendance or have a record number of baptisms, this isn’t for you.
Instead, they chose:
- The Available Door: By simply being available and present, you can demonstrate to students that you genuinely care about them. It’ll be difficult to have influence if people don’t know or recognize you.
- The Kind Door: It seems like a no-brainer, right? Believe it or not, kindness will offer you more influence than anything else. Every time you go out of your way to be nice to someone, they remember it. And they remember you.
- The Helpful Door: One huge way to demonstrate kindness is by finding simple ways to help.
These churches believe that there are ways that a faith-based community can serve a school generously and still obey and respect the laws that separate them. They are serving, encouraging, and influencing teachers, kids, and families every day.
When I see those bricks on my daughter’s school, I choose to give thanks for the kind, available, and helpful people opening real and metaphorical doors with schools.
Core Essential Values is a school curriculum company that uses a Life App and definition each month to reach kids and families, preschool through high school. If your church would like to hear about specific ways you can use our resources to partner with schools, contact Misty (email@example.com) or Elizabeth (firstname.lastname@example.org). Email and set up a call today! Visit our site, https://www.coreessentials.org/tour.html.