How Children’s Ministers Can Get God Back in the Schools

Partner with schoolsToday, I asked Ingid Dedecker, the director of Partner With Schools, to write a post on how children’s ministers can get God back in our schools with this effective outreach tool.

 

Get God back into Public Schools !

by Ingrid Dedecker

Tag.  You’re it.  A game played every day in school yards.  I wish finding christians who are willing to share the Good News in public elementary schools were this easy.  Yet it’s not only permitted but even welcomed by schools.  And three quarters of the students usually get saved.  The girl in the picture up front asked with wide and hopeful eyes: “ Is it really true that God will forgive me of all the bad things I have done?”

Amazing Opportunity to reach your Neighborhood.  Research shows that kids can reach their parents much better than pastors can.  Showing the love of God to students often brings the rest of the family to church.  It’s only one hour per week for eight weeks  per semester, with amazing results.  Elementary School students are still open to the love of God.  Let’s reach them before they become troubled teens.  85% of people who get saved find God between the age of 5 -14.

Partner kids

Voluntary After-School programs for which parents sign a permission form are within the legal framework of the school.  A school  which has any other activities such as after-school enrichment programs must allow a Bible club as well.  This even holds true for flyers and announcements as all clubs have to be treated equally.

Sixteen Federal Agencies call upon Faith-based organizations!  All children who attend the local church also attend the local school.  Parents of those children are deeply connected to both institutions.  What other local organization has such a direct link to the school.  That is why the Department of Education, The White House, via it’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and 14 other Federal Agencies promote student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.

Fourteen Churches, on average exist for each school and yet it’s difficult to find churches willing to get involved in their local school.  No need to fear the ACLU.  The ACLU usually focuses on the establishment clause of the First Amendment which makes sure that religion is not officially established in schools.  That’s why the ACLU often challenges official prayer or religious symbols in schools.  However The ACLU has never taken a school to court over a Bible Club, and due to numerous recent lawsuits won by students whose schools denied clubs, an increasing number of principals are now focusing on their student’s right to Free Speech.   In prior decades schools focused almost exclusively on upholding the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause but in recent years the shift to also  uphold the First Amendment’s  Free Speech Clause has brought much balance to the issue of  Church/State Separation.  Yes, schools still don’t endorse religion but they now also enforce student’s rights to practice religion in schools.

The ACLU of Tennessee,  just in March 2014,  decided to actually defend a student who was forced by teachers to stop reading the Bible in an After School program.  In the letter sent to the school, the ACLU requests that the school train it’s teachers on religious freedom rights while at the same time  not imposing religions on students.  Hedy Weinberg, executive director  for the ACLU’s Tennessee branch, additionally said in a statement that the goal of their letter was to: clarify how constitutionally-guaranteed religious freedoms work.

Neither School Administrators nor Church Administrators are fully aware of the recent case law opening up schools to churches.  That’s why it’s important to gently inform schools that over 7000 elementary schools nationwide have Bible Clubs in schools;  and many more Middle and High Schools.

Partner with Schools provides pro bono help to churches in getting into their local schools.  We set up partnerships between local schools and local churches and provide teacher’s training and ongoing coaching to keep the church’s school outreach ministry motivated.   You will find more information at:  www.partnerwithschools.com   A school principal from Akron City Schools in Ohio said: “ Thank you for impacting our school so much for the las two years.  We are so glad you’re here!”

Blessing not only the students but also to the school.   Schools are mandated to teach character education.  Since the Bible is full of character education we might as well help schools fulfill that mandate.  Character Counts is one of the two primary character education programs.  Since schools recognize that program we incorporate Character Counts into our curriculum.  It takes up less than 10 minutes of the class and the rest of the class focuses on faith-based character education via Bible teaching, fun activities, songs, and memory verses.

IngridIngrid DeDecker, Director of Partner with Schools, is available for meetings and church presentations and can be reached at: 330.309.5333 or dedecker@partnerwithschools.com

 

Planning See You At the Pole for Children’s Ministry

Every year, youth and children from around the nation gather at the flagpole at their schools and pray for revival.

Some have left children out of this great event because of the need for adult supervision. But adults are legally allowed to join students in prayer.

One of the greatest things you can do for the children in your ministry as they go back to their elementary schools is to organize a See You At the Pole Event.

See You at the Pole is held on the last Wednesday of September at 7:00 am. This year, it is September 25th. You can find more information about See You At The Pole  at their website. The theme for See You at the Pole 2013 is If/Then. If we pray, seek, turn, then God hears, forgives, heals. The theme verse passage is 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Organizing See You at the Pole for Children’s Ministry:

Pray: Bathe the students who want to participate in this in prayer.

Prepare: Have an adult leader and student leaders at each school. The students can advertise the event in the school by hanging up posters and telling their friends. The adult would notify the school principal and parents about the event and let them know that there will be adult supervision.

Publicize: Promote this event in your children’s ministry. Get the children excited about it. Give children fliers to pass out to their friends at school. Send a letter home to the parents telling them about this ministry and how their children can be involved.

Plan:  Have the adult at each school get together with the students and plan what they will do. What will they pray for? Will they sing a song or read scripture?

Promote: You can do this by having a special Back to School children’s church where you talk about the power of prayer as the children go to school and how this is one way they can demonstrate their faith. I also recommend a children’s service geared around prayer and this event. Take some time to teach the children why we are praying at the schools and how they can pray. Assure them that they don’t have to pray out loud at these events unless they want to. Showing up and praying silently at the school’s flagpole is powerful.

For more information about See You at the Pole, visit their website here.

Prayer Sponsors For Children

School has started, and children are entering a spiritual war zone. They need prayer. That’s why having a prayer sponsor for each child in your ministry is essential. Here’s a few ideas on how to have prayer sponsors.

Advertise in the congregation. Let the members of the congregation know that they are committing not only to praying for a child every day, but to connecting with that child at least once a month. They should also send the child a birthday card and thinking of you postcards occasionally. Let the sponsors know they are committing to this for one year.

Launch the Program with a Special Day. You could have a special banquet where the prayer sponsors will sit with the children they’re praying for. Or you could have a special children’s anointing service and have each prayer sponsor pray for his or her child. Free plans for a children’s anointing service can be downloaded at this link.

Give Information. Prayer sponsors should be given information about the child they are praying for including age, grade, school, parent’s names, address, email, and phone number.

Have a list of suggestions on what to pray for. You could put these suggestions on a bookmark they can place in their Bibles. Make the bookmarks out of card stock paper. Here’s a list you could use.

  • School
  • Family
  • Health
  • Activities
  • Relationship with God

An Opportunity to Give. You can also use this as a way to raise funds for children’s ministry. Give the sponsors enough offering envelopes for the year and suggest they give a certain amount of money to the children’s ministry once a month in the name of the child they are sponsoring. If there are any trips or special events that cost money, the money they give will go toward the child they’re sponsoring.

Invite prayer sponsors to children’s ministry events, and let them know what’s going on in children’s ministry in your church.

The prayer sponsor program can be one of the most effective programs in your children’s ministry. Prayer changes things.

Take Your Faith Back to School by Pat Holland

A friend of mine, Pat Holland, a children’s ministry evangelist and consultant, wrote a blog post with a Children’s Church lesson and skit that she gave me permission to share.

Take Your Faith Back to School

by Pat Holland

Use this as a devotion or a  quick skit that uses 3 actors. (I rewrote it for actors and the teacher to use in class.) Let the actors use their personalities to jazz it up.

Backpack? Check!

Notebooks? Check!

64 Pencils? Really? 64? Reluctantly…Check!

Faith? What is faith doing on my “Back to School Supply List” ?

So just why do I need to take “faith” to school with me?

Three reasons you need to take your faith with you.

1. Faith isn’t a church thing.

2. Faith is trusting God to be with you and help you in every area of your life—home, school and even church.

3. Faith connects us with God’s strength, ability and His plan for your life.

1. To remind you that Jesus is with you and wants to help you in school.

2. To remind you to ask Him for help.

3. To inspire you to do your best.

4. To remind you that this really is going to be a great year.

5. To share with your friends. Ron Hutchcraft always told his kids as they left for school each morning, “Go MAD.” They knew he was saying, “Go Make A Difference.” You can make your school, your class a better place, if you take your faith in Christ with you!

I hope your school year is off to a great start. I pray that you’ll learn lots of new things. I remember what school was like and I remember there are challenges that come with it. So take your faith with you- don’t leave home without it.

—–

Faith Back to School Skit

If you choose to use this devotion as a skit you will need 3 kids or 3 puppets. Child number 1 has the list and is looking inside the backpack, the other 2 have the back pack on their backs ready for school.

Child 2: Would you hurry? I want to see if Zac is at the bus stop!

Child 3:  You know Zac is always late!

Child 1: My teacher said, I had to have all my supplies there no later than today, so let me check my list one more time. Backpack? Check! Notebooks? Check! 64 Pencils? Really? 64? (Reluctantly) OK! Faith?

Child 2: What is faith doing on your “Back to School Supply List” ?

Child 1: My mom put it there to remind me that taking my faith to school is just as important as taking all the supplies on my list.

Child 2: Really? Why do you need to take “faith” to school? Isn’t that a church thing?

Child 3: No. Faith is trusting God to be with you and help you in every area of your life—home and school. Church is just a place where we learn about faith.

Child 1: Faith turns on the faucet of God’s strength in my life. He helps me with school. When I take my faith to school, it reminds me to ask Him to help me.

Child 3: Taking my faith to school make me want to do my best.

Child 1: Taking my faith to school reminds me that this really is going to be a great year.

Child 2: And do I need to remind you, we’re going to be late if we don’t run! (All run off the stage.)

Teacher: I hope your school year is off to a great start. I pray that you’ll learn lots of new things. I remember what school was like and I remember there are challenges that come with it.  That’s why you need your faith, but there’s one more reason that they didn’t mention. Take your faith to school and share it. Ron Hutchcraft always told his kids as they left for school each morning, “Go MAD.” They knew he was saying, “Go Make A Difference.”  You can make your school, your class a better place, if you take your faith in Christ with you! So take your faith with you- don’t leave home without it.

For more informative blog posts written by Pat Holland and information about her ministry, Let Us Teach Kids, click this link.

Bible Clubs In Schools Part 2: How to Start a Bible Club

Today, I have a guest blogger, Robert Heath from Kids In Christ USA. He’s going to talk to us about How to Start A Bible Club.

Kids In Christ USA Ministry

Kids for Christ USA is a concept by students in public schools are being reached with the gospel.  We work with parents and students who wish to plant before or after school Bible clubs in the Public Schools using the guidelines of the Federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment of the Constitution.  

I/We work to empower these parents/students with everything they need to be successful.  For some that is just advice, for others we connect them with ministry teams in they’re area, in some cases we provide the required liability insurance.  We have over 67 schools across the U.S.A. that we work or have worked with.  The goal of KFCUSA and myself is to be the ultimate resource for parents/students who sponsor Bible clubs.

Robert Heath, Kids for Christ USA  www.kfcusa.org

How To Start A Bible Club

The following is an exerpt for Robert Heath’s book explaning how to start a Bible Club in a public school.

Student or Parent Sponsors:

 

 Now, I guess the next thing to discuss is “Your approach” when it comes time to talk to Mr. or Mrs. Principal.club must be student sponsored and student initiated. However, at the elementary level, there is no legal precedent as yet, so most schools will allow a “parent sponsor” to assist a student sponsor to organize the program. The reason is simple: it’s just common sense that most elementary age children lack the organizational skills needed to operate a program like this. I was warned by the ACLJ in the beginning of this ministry that if I did what I said I wanted to do, I would probably be involved in setting those legal precedents at the elementary level. I used to think that a precedent was needed at this age, but I no longer think that. What I mean is that since it has been declared that it is a First Amendment right for students, then I am not sure that it is a worthwhile fight to graft elementary schools into the Equal Access Act.

In order for Kids for Christ USA, (KFCUSA) Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) or your best friend to help you with a program in an elementary, junior high or high school, a student or parent sponsor is needed. I remember the first day of Kids for Christ at my son’s school. What I did was (and still is) both challenging and incredibly rewarding. I remember walking out of that school saying to God, “You know, Lord, that was incredible! I could do that for the rest of my life.” Knowing that you had a hand in reaching lost souls in your child’s school is a wonderful feeling. I have no words to describe the awesome blessing of this simple act of service. You are the frontline person in your child’s school. Even if we (or some other group) assist you, you are still the liaison between the school and that group. The goal I had when I started Kids for Christ USA was to instill confidence in students and parent sponsors across the country. You are not alone! For starters, Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He also referred to the Holy Spirit as the comforter: Whom he was sending. So you have God’s promise to be there for you. You also have access to groups like KFCUSA and CEF who can be a resource for you to use in whatever capacity you need.

As you have just read, the laws regarding Bible Clubs are written with the junior high and high school students in mind. That is because those students and their families fought this battle that has already paved the way for us.

Now let’s get to that approach I mentioned at the beginning of this section.

If you were a shy kid who never acted out in class and was never sent to the principal’s office, then this trip can be a bit unnerving. In fact, take it from me: IT WILL BE unnerving. Just remember the Word says that you will have understanding.” and like I was actually looking into the eyes of The President. I tried to speak, but no sound would come out of my lips. Then, when something did come out of my mouth, I sounded like Porky the Pi, Pi, Pi, Hog. (Please don’t make me explain the joke.)

Remember this (but You are an American Citizen. As such, you own that building. 

Just for the record, if you do have a problem, then contact Kid’s for Christ USA immediately. Our web site, e-mail address, and phone number is listed in the back of this book. You can also call CEF. For legal help, you can also call upon The Alliance defense fund or the ACLJ. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any problems; we will be happy to help guide you through the process. In fact, I recommend that you program our phone number into your cell phone speed dial before you walk into that office. (Well, you can if you wish to; I was partly joking right here. More than likely you won’t need to call us.)

It seems silly to say this, but the first order of business, even before you go to see the principal, is actually preparation. The most successful groups I have had the pleasure of working with coordinated a group of moms before they ever visited the Principal. Talk about a confidence builder! The lead Mom knew before she ever visited the Principal that she had several other moms who were standing by her. They broke down a list of responsibilities among themselves. When they did get the go ahead from the school, they were ready. I advise you to go as prepared as possible, both naturally and spiritually. And remember, the most important confidence builder is caused by taking some time to be alone with God before you head off to the school.

Connect With Moms In Touch

Another great resource is “Moms in Touch” prayer groups. This National organization functions very similar to how KFCUSA functions. They break down from National all the way down to the school level. Talk about powerful; a group of moms who meet weekly for the sole purpose of praying and serving the school their child attends! As you prepare your Club, connect with the regional offices of Moms in Touch. If they have a group in your school, I recommend that you connect with them and even join them. Wherever KFCUSA goes, we have noticed that the Clubs that have student or parent sponsors who took the time to connect with the local Moms in Touch group ends up with a Bible Club that THRIVES!

Meeting with the Principal

I know we haven’t talked about teacher observers yet, but I would try to have at least an idea about who you want to have as your teacher observer before you visit the Principal. When you go, some of the items you need to remember to request are:

• A room in which to hold your meetings.

• A day and time for your meetings. (We have found it best to allow the Principal to choose the day.) This can be before or after school.

• A start time, roughly 50-60 minutes before school begins or 10-15 minutes after it ends. (This time frame is especially important if you intend to serve snacks.)

• If you wish to offer snacks, be sure to discuss that with the Principal. I advise you to be “up front” with the Principal from the start. In fact, get permission for everything you can think of during your initial meeting. Go ahead and ask to sponsor “See You at the Pole” in September. Ask permission to give candy as prizes, reward incentives … whatever you think of, ask to do it … now.

The schools are no place to operate with the mentality of “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Even though I think there is a place for that, the schools are not that place. That mentality is just asking for trouble in this type of program. Never assume permission. Ask for it!

• Also, it’s always a good idea to offer to fill out any appropriate forms or complete any other necessary documentation. That way, you show that you want to do things “right.