An integral part of our future diocese, and in the formation of Minster Communities, is the need to prioritise our work with children, young people and families, especially through partnership with our schools.
We spoke to Matt Long, our diocesan Youth Engagement and Intergenerational Communities Enabler, about how you can be serving your local school…
Commonly, a church's connection with a school is through assemblies, collective worship, RE lessons, church festivals and visits. These are crucial, and should continue, but they’re not the whole picture.
One of the questions I’m often asked by church leaders as I travel around the diocese is: How do we serve our local school? This question is usually prefaced with a range of statements such as - we have no funding, few volunteers, very little time, limited resources, and no idea where to start.
For me, schools work is all about trust. It is about building a meaningful relationship between the whole school and the whole church. So, start with who you are and what you have - even if you think that’s ‘not a lot.’
What’s in your hand?
I can almost guarantee in most church congregations you will find people who pray faithfully, encourage endlessly, and bake unceasingly! Do you know any of those kinds of people?
At a recent Growing Faith Network meeting I was inspired by Charlotte, the Children’s Mission Enabler in Peterborough Diocese. She asked several headteachers, what was the one thing you would ask of your local church? To her surprise the most frequent response was DONUTS! on a Friday morning, in the staff room.
Charlotte has challenged all the churches she works with to take biscuits, cakes, ice creams, or fruit into their local school, at least four times a year, with a note saying: ‘Thank you for everything you are doing to invest in children and young people in our town, you are brilliant! We are praying for you!’
What if your church was known by your local school for its generosity?
What if your church was known by your local school for its commitment to pray?
Here are ten tips of how to start serving your local school(s) through prayer, encouragement, and baking!
How can we pray for our local school(s)?
1. Discover and engage with Education Sunday, a National Day of Prayer and celebration for everyone in the world of education. Education Sunday will be marked by churches on 10 September 2023, with a theme of ‘the armour of light’. https://cte.org.uk/educationsunday2023/
2. Include local school(s) in your intercessions once a month (or more often) at a Sunday service.
3. Contact your local school(s), by email or in-person to let them know the church is praying regularly for the school.
4. With permission, take a photo or your local school(s) and make a display at church, as a prayer prompt. Find out the names of senior leaders, teachers, and support staff. Pray for them by name and/or include them in intercessions.
5. Contact your local school(s), by email or in-person for any specific prayer requests. For example, prayers for exam season, well-being, inspections etc…
How can we encourage and bless our local school(s)?
1. Discover and engage with National Thank a Teacher Day, which is celebrated across the UK each summer term. https://thankateacher.co.uk/
2. At the end of each school term, write a thank you note to all school staff. Deliver the note to your local school(s) with a box of chocolates (or two) for the staff room.
3. Mark the start of the school year with ‘appreciation gifts’ for school staff. This may include a hamper of tea, coffee, biscuits, and fruit for the staff room, with a note saying something like: ‘Welcome back to school, you are amazing. We’re praying for a fruitful year for the school.’
4. Once a month, ask members of church to bake biscuits and cakes to take into your local school. Deliver with a note to staff, saying something like: ‘Thank you for everything you are doing to invest in children and young people, you are brilliant! We are praying for you!’
5. Once a year, organise for church members to run a ‘coffee morning’ in the staff room, serving hot drinks and home-baked goods to staff during break or lunch time.