by Jeremy Holbrook
One of the most exciting aspects of ministry is finding new opportunities to serve your community in ways that show the life and love of Jesus Christ to those who may not hear it in their daily routines. As Christ Followers, we were instructed to go and make disciples, and there’s a HUGE mission field outside our church doors who might never step foot inside of our churches.
As a children’s pastor, I’m always looking for unique ways to partner in our community in ways that reach kids where they are, and not just wait for them (nor expect them) to come to church. Things like Upward Sports, coaching at the Y.M.C.A., getting involved with F.C.A., community programs in local theaters, and other venues. But when I learned about Core Essentials a few years ago at The Orange Conference, I believed it would be an impacting outreach, yet a familiar ministry rhythm (we use 252 Basics for our K-5 program) that would fit very well with our ministry philosophy at our church.
I remember when I first sat down and looked over all of the information from Core Essentials. It felt like drinking from a fire hydrant. So much information, all of it equally impressive. I daydreamed of the potential this outreach might have in our community. I began to share (way too much) vision with my senior pastor about what it could mean for our ministry, and I learned a valuable lesson. After giving my “sales pitch” of why I wanted to use Core Essentials as a way to partner with local schools—and although he sat through the entire pitch—he patiently let me finish and then calmly said, “Jeremy, just keep it simple, show me the information, and allow it to amaze me.”
That may sound too simple, and even as I read over what I just typed, I can imagine you shaking your head in disbelief saying, “Yeah, like it’ll happen that way.”
If you have prayed about the opportunity to invest and partner in your local schools, and have found (as I hope you have) Core Essentials to be the best fit for your ministry rhythm and volunteer resources, I want to give you five simple pointers for establishing your primary connection with your local school.
- Pray for Wisdom and Discernment. I fully believe that each individual school has its own culture, its own pace, and its own plan of reaching children. Ask God to help you see the common vision that the school has (when you hear about them) and how Core Essentials can not only partner with reaching the children, but also energize the vision by building character traits and encouraging the children to grow.
- Find out who the “point person” is to implement, resource, and be the mouthpiece of Core Essentials for the school (who you’ll be sitting with as you introduce the Core Essentials Program). Most of the time, it will be the guidance counselor or the principal. This morning, I actually sat down with both from a particular school, and it was a blessing to hear them engage in a conversation (when they were being presented an overview of Core Essentials) about how to utilize the material for maximum impact. To hear the principal personalize how his conversation with the kids would be centered around asking them about treating others well, maximizing their potential, and making smart decisions. How he could incorporate daily announcements into their videos they show every morning. It was motivating! And then to listen to the guidance counselor speak about developing ways to interact with parents of the children with their mail-outs, monthly newsletter, and social media postings.
- Become familiar and comfortable with Core Essential Curriculum, strategy, and where to find all of the information with the monthly files you can download. Know about the “Say it,” “Know It,” “See It,” “Be It,” “Family Resources,” “Staff Resources,” and “Printable” folders. You are a navigator, lead them to the resources!
- Print out a sample of the assembly script. Walk them through what a normal assembly would look like. I take my laptop, and actually use ProPresenter (media shout/easy worship/etc.) and show them the quality of the videos, preview of a game, and how we always teach, and reinforce the monthly virtue throughout the assembly.
- When you are presenting material, allow time for questions. Remember, they have a large responsibility over a large group of children, so they want to get this right as much as you do! So, take your time. Smile. Laugh. Be excited about the opportunity of partnering with a school for the growth of their children!
What an opportunity we have to meet the growing needs of children right where they are in their hallways and classrooms. We have the privilege of representing the life and love of Jesus in a hands-on and interactive way. Be yourself, there is no person on this planet that was created to be just like you! Core Essentials was made to reach the many, but you were created to reach specific children. Have confidence in that!
“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” —Fred Rogers
I’m looking forward to hearing how you strengthen your neighborhoods!
Jeremy Holbrook is the pastor for children’s ministries at Wildwood Church in Ashland, Kentucky.