“We just need more pizza,“ said, one of the parents in the room. Another one spouted off, “We just need to do bigger outreaches with lots of fun activities, that will get them here!”
As I sat there, fearing endless amounts of pepperoni pizza haunting me in my dreams and yet another concert, bonfire, movie night, or 5th quarter party that didn’t bring about the long-term outreach results we were looking for, I decided it was time to go to the Lord in prayer. Ironically, what came about, was more prayer and not just with me praying, but me praying with countless students every week for the next eight years.
As I went to the Lord I realized the best way for me to do outreach is not for me to expect them to come to me, but for me to go to them. Thankfully, I have a great relationship with the schools in my area. I’ve been a coach, mentor and volunteered at many activities that have helped me build trust with the school district in my area and so because of that, it made things much easier when I decided to get some prayer groups going in the schools.
Now, if you’re like me, and you love students, but often wonder what the best and most effective tool for outreach is, I’m a firm believer that starting prayer groups in your schools might be one of the best outreaches you could ever do. Here’s why-
- You’ll meet kids who would never come to your church on their own.
- After awhile, some of those kids actually start coming to your programming.
- Then, those kids invite their friends, who invite their friends and multiplication continues, with little effort on your part.
Here’s how simple this extremely effective outreach is for my youth ministry. I show up with donuts and information about our youth program, upcoming events and bus ministry. That’s it. No joke, that’s really all I do. Now, if I show up without the donuts, the kids might tackle me and pull out all my hair, so I’ve never made that mistake. The great thing is, there are no countless hours of pre-planning or thousands of dollars spent on some band the kids barely know. I spend a few dollars a week on donuts, which I actually used to get for free from a local grocery store who gave me their day old donuts, but the groups grew to be so big that I recognized I needed to start purchasing my own.
Here are a few simple steps on how to get a prayer group started in your schools.
- Talk to your students. Ask them to talk to their principal about starting a before school prayer group. At least in my area, any type of religious activity that is considered “student-led” is allowed within the public schools.
- Talk to the administration of the school you want to get into after your kids have spoken with their principal and gotten the OK. Introduce yourself and ask what you need to do so you can help support the students with their prayer groups. Some schools require anyone coming into their school, whether before or after school, to have a background check and ID badge.
- Once you get the OK from the principal, ask for a room somewhere in the school and set a time and day each week and for goodness sakes, don’t forget the donuts, you do like having hair after all, don’t you? 🙂
- Then, spread the word. Tell parents, kids and blast it on social media and once you do get prayer groups up and running, take lots of pictures and post them on your social media pages.
- Bring info about your churches ministry programs and seek to get kids plugged in. That’s the point after all, isn’t it?
- Of course, don’t forget to pray. We gather in a circle and hold hands. Unless, of course, one of the boys has cooties, then the girls will just stand close to them. If a kid doesn’t want to pray they just squeeze the hand of the person next to them until it gets to a student who would like to pray.
- One last thing, if you never get past step one, ask others to join you in prayer to open a door for you in your schools.