by Anthony Hampton, CCN Vital Families Team Leader
For many, one of the major hindrances to effectiveness is always preparing to do something but never actually taking the first step. While this is a truth in many of our personal lives, it can also be true in our churches. That’s why the theme of the 2022 Vital Families in Schools (VFS) was “Taking the Next Step”. The focus helped churches explore the “what, when, and how” of taking the next step to build an effective church/school partnership.
Research continues to show families are the key factor in a student’s academic achievement and well-being. Through Vital Families in Schools churches are partnering with schools to encourage and support families.
For many churches, the desire to partner with schools is a priority, but there are often barriers. One concern is “What about the separation of church and state? Can churches and schools effectively partner? Yes! Not only can they partner, but the schools are asking and seeking intentional relationships with churches. It is important that churches follow the appropriate guidelines, but with proper assistance, we can do this well and successfully show the love of Christ in our schools.
The church can serve schools by mentoring students, supporting teachers and families, and serving in various volunteer opportunities that the school makes available. We become the hands and feet of Jesus. We demonstrate the love of Christ. When churches work together, the light of Christ shines even brighter. We make the gospel more beautiful to a skeptical world.
Feedback from this year’s participating churches included a number of practical takeaways:
- The role of families is vital in academic achievement and the well-being of students, and churches have an essential role in helping families.
- A number of the participating educators reminded us that the church needs to serve in a way that truly helps and does not become a burden to the school. Some participating school leaders recalled times when the church’s priorities or expectations were out of alignment with the true needs of the school. This can affect the growth and effectiveness of the partnership.
- Under promise and over-deliver. Sadly, there have been too many stories of churches making promises they did not fulfill. This adversely affects the reputation of the church and the effectiveness of the partnership.
- Finally, we, as the church, must be willing to serve with a spirit of humility and flexibility. We must come with a heart attitude that communicates that we’re not there to be the savior of the day but as a partner to help students, families, and the school.
The day concluded with each church identifying a key next step in their school partnership and with focused prayer for the coming school year. Our prayer is for a thriving church/school partnership at every school in Central Arkansas. To learn more about how you or your church can take the next step in starting a new partnership or joining an existing one, please contact Anthony Hampton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Special thanks to our host church, His Way Ministries, all of our presenters and all who participated to make the 2022 VFS Summit a great next step for the coming year.