Mission-Minded Church-School Partnerships

minn-umcThe growing numbers of congregations serving children and reconnecting with their communities is a major movement in the United Methodist Church. Partnering a church family with a public school can be a rewarding experience that blesses students and brings new vitality to the faith of volunteers and the life of the church. There are currently fifty-two such partnerships in our conference. A school is a microcosm of the greater community. Parents everywhere care about their children’s education. Something powerful happens when a church and its members make a sustained, long-term commitment to a local school.

These partnerships are more important than ever, because unfortunately, in almost every small town, suburb or city there are children who struggle to learn for various reasons. Some are food insecure and it’s hard to learn when you’re hungry. English is a second language for more and more of them. Some family situations lead to a lack of adequate supervision, where parents are not around to help with homework. Some even raise a concern about safety.

Education has a direct impact on children’s quality of life and their prospects for the future. As Christians, we are called and want to see them live up to their God-given potential. It makes sense for schools and churches to join together to teach not only math and history and sciences, but character, social skills and the ability to live in community with other.

The church has a special mandate to serve vulnerable people. They are called to share human, material and financial resources with those less fortunate. Partnering with a local school is a Matthew 25 opportunity. The way you treat “the least of these” is the way you treat Jesus himself. Volunteers can be mentors, after school aids, and classroom assistants. Churches can provide schools with food and clothing, financial resources for special needs, or funds for particular programs. They can become advocates for schools, students, teachers and administrators. And as they do, they provide a glimpse of the reign of God in a world too often broken and in need of healing.

As a result of John Wesley’s dedication to it, Methodists have always been strong advocates of education. There are currently over 700 United Methodist –related schools in dozens of countries. United Methodists are living out Wesley’s vision to create educated principled Christian leaders who transform the church and world.

For those who want to join the movement, I encourage you to read “The Mission-Minded Guide to Church and School Partnerships,” written by Jake McGlothin and published by Abingdon Press. Jake has years of experience creating a partnership between Floris UMC and Hutchinson Elementary School in Herndon, Virginia.

Thanks for all you continue to do to heal a broken world!

 

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