I got an email this week from a junior at our local high school. Part of it went like this:
I feel strongly that someone should address the problem of poverty in our community because I deeply care about the well-being of our citizens. I’d really like to spend a week combating it. . . . I am emailing this to you because there are several measures I need your help instituting. I hope you will be on board with all of this. I really care! Attached is a document with the way I see the week. I am very open to ideas on many levels, especially with the daily activities. Thank you!
I’d love to tell you I get emails like that all the time (I don’t). But a few times a year, I get a text, call, or Facebook message from a student with an idea.
Something they see at our high school that keeps them up at night.
A way to help someone who needs it.
A hope to make something better.
And I’d love to tell you that the reason they ask me for help is because I give great advice and have extensive event-planning experience (I don’t).
A couple of years ago, I and another student ministry leader in my town approached our high school about working with kids there (any kids in the school, not just our kids from church) to begin a student group that would talk to the school—teachers, kids, everyone—about things that matter. We start with monthly value words and their definitions and facilitate the students in designing activities and fun ways to address bigger topics. Lots of cool stuff has happened related to that venture, but the random emails and texts were not what I was expecting. Some (like the email above) are from students I have had the opportunity to work with closely, and others are from kids I have to look up in the yearbook to recognize.
I have learned, though, that if we as ministry folks show up at the school
within the rules
We will be given opportunities to show love to a broken world. We will be asked to be there when there is a dance to chaperone, when tragedy strikes, when there are kids with needs bigger than what the school can address, when a student could use homework help, or when they need extra speakers for the sound system at a pep rally.
Our influence with the kids (and teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents) in our community can expand exponentially when we approach schools with small acts of kindness consistently, without agenda, and within the rules.
Leslie Bolser (@lebolser) is the creative director for Core Essential Values, a company that provides curriculum and resources to public preschools, elementary schools, after school care, middle schools and high schools across the country. She is also finishing her 11th year on staff at Central United Methodist Church in Richmond, IN. She would love to talk to you about churches and schools, so send her an email at email@example.com.