So you’ve read our previous blog (Why Launch a Public School Ministry) and you’re convinced that someone needs to launch something* in your local high school. Maybe you’re even convinced that someone is you. *For the sake of clarity in the rest of this blog post, we’ll be referring to this “something” as a “club.” The ministry that you start in your local high school may not be a club, or you may not want to call it a club and that’s ok. The basic principles in this post still apply. But what now? Where do you even start? We’ve got some suggestions! Before you jump in though, know that we haven’t put a timeline on any of them. Sometimes launching a club can take a few weeks. And sometimes it can take nearly an entire school year. Be prepared to go with God in all of this, rather than jumping ahead of Him. This will help to keep you and your students from discouragement.
Build a Team
No matter who you are, you cannot do this alone. Nor are you meant to. There’s a reason why Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs. There’s a reason He told his disciples to ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers (plural!) into the harvest fields. In case you need a reminder, here it is: You were created for community! In every aspect of life, including the work of the Kingdom. So who will be your co-labourers in this ministry? You’ll need to gather a team of people. They’ll all have different roles, but each role is incredibly important and needs to be in place before you begin.
- Students → Your students know their school better than anyone else. They know the culture, the needs and the people. They have a lot more freedom in their school than you do as an outsider.
- Teacher sponsor → Every school club requires a teacher sponsor who will take on responsibility for the club and act as a liaison with the administration. They are also often the ones who provide a space in which to meet. Often, students can be the ones to find a teacher sponsor.
- School administration → Often, school administrators don’t even know that they are on your team … but you really need them! You’ll need permission to create the club. And if you plan to spend time in the school, you’ll need permission to be there and you’ll need to know the school’s terms for you being there. Our advice? Make friends with the office staff!
- You, the volunteer leader → You’re going to be the one cheering your students on, equipping them to do ministry in their high schools and, eventually, meeting the friends and classmates who would never come to a youth group at a church, but might join a conversation over pizza at school. Oh, and if you can, you might be the one who ends up paying for that pizza.
It’s really important that the club is meeting the needs of the school. Not the needs of your church or your youth group or even just the students who are interested in helping you make it happen. If you’re not launching a ministry in a high school (or anywhere for that matter) in order to meet the needs of that school and those students, then why are you even there? You may as well have stayed at your own church’s youth group. So while you’re building your team, start to make observations about the school. Students, teachers and principals are particularly helpful resources during this step.
- What is it like to be a student at this school?
- What are the school’s strengths and weaknesses?
- What is the latest big drama?
- What concerns are most on the minds of students?
- What does the school hope to be[come]? What are its values?
Hot Tip: When making plans to meet with teachers and school administrators, ask for meetings during seasons that are not super hectic. Don’t ask for a meeting at the very beginning or end of a semester, or around report card time. And when you do meet, keep it brief! In this way, you are caring for them and not just focusing on your own needs.
Teamwork makes the dream work, right? But first you need to have a dream! Gather your students and start studying the Bible and praying together. Your studies and prayers will depend on the information you gathered in the previous step. How does the Bible address the issues that are facing your school/students? What does God want to say about those things through prayer? What are your group’s dreams for the school? What are God’s dreams for the school? A prayer exercise that can be helpful in talking to God about some of these questions can be found in the resources folder shared at the end of this post.
You’ve finally come to the step where it will feel like things are actually starting to happen!
The needs of the school
the dreams that you and God have
your team’s talents, spiritual gifts and passions
So take stock of your team. What are your talents, gifts and passions? How could they be used to meet the needs of the school? Now go do that thing! It’s possible that, at first, you may not be able to see how your team’s gifts and passions could possibly align to meet the needs of the school. That’s ok! Because this is God’s dream and He can make it work. Check out this video for an example of how God did exactly that in one woman’s life.
You’ve tried something! And that’s amazing! Take a step back as a team to chat about what’s happened so far. This will help you and your students to reconnect with the dream, to take a look at the needs and see how God has been working in and through you. What went well? What would you do differently next time? And, most importantly, how will you celebrate what God has done?
Rinse and Repeat
Keep going! This is not a one-time process, but a continual cycle of transformation. Who else could join your team? What other/new needs are there to address? How will you continue to step into God’s dreams for your school? How do your team’s talents, gifts and passions meet the needs of your school? What can you learn from the things that you try?
We are so excited for you as you launch a ministry in your public high school! You should check out our webinar all about how to partner with schools. You can watch the recoding on demand by clicking this link.
We’ll send you things like…
- “42 Week Mission Trip” – a condensed, worksheet format of ideas on inspiring students to think missionally about their school
- “Walking with Jesus Prayer Exercise” – which helps students dream with God about how He might want to be at work in their school
- “Planning a Lunchtime Meeting” – we share one option of what it could look like
- And more!