Soon, many Americans will experience one of the biggest events of the year – the first day of school.

Think of the shopping, the preparation, the anticipation: A new school year is significant!

Your church or small group can find many ways to minister to the students, teachers and administrators in your area.

It is always a good idea to contact an administrator to be sure your plans have his or her approval. Then see what God leads you to do for those in the education community and get ready to see him bless.

Here are four approaches your church might consider:

1. Fill some backpacks.

In one Texas town, a group of churches is cooperating in a project to fill 500 backpacks for students in need.

The members of one church are providing 500 scissors, another church is collecting bottles of glue, and others are bringing the remaining items on a set list. Church members will join together at an event to fill the backpacks, which will then be distributed.

You can work with churches near you to do the same kind of project. If the school system allows, include an information sheet about the churches in the area.

2. Adopt a school or classroom.

You may choose to adopt a classroom in which the teacher is a member of your church, or you may intentionally choose a non-member to whom you can reach out.

Ask an administrator, counselor or teacher what the needs are in that school or classroom.

It may be that they need school supplies, a coat for a student or snack foods for students who are hungry during the weekends when free lunches are not available.

You may want to gift a teacher with a box of good scissors, a stapler, electric pencil sharpener, bulletin board border, stickers or other rewards for students and so on.

Teachers spend a surprising amount of their own money on these kinds of things for their classrooms and students. Wrap the box with a nice bow to make it special.

3. Prayer walk at the schools.

I know one church that sent groups of members to different schools in town on Sunday afternoon before the start of school. They walked around the buildings and playing fields, praying for God’s Spirit to prevail in that school.

4. Program publicity.

Throughout the year, schools sell advertisements in their programs for football games, band and choir concerts, and theater productions. Buy an ad for your church with a picture of the building, address and times of church services.

This has the dual benefit of supporting school activities and creating friendly awareness of your church. You never know what may encourage someone to give your church a visit.

Remember that “school” is not something that just happens at the end of August. The school year is almost 10 months long, and the needs of students and teachers continue.

If you and your church are willing to sustain these ministries, the impact in Jesus’ name will be noticed even more.

A school system is a “field ripe unto harvest” (John 4:35).

Children, teens and adults are together in one community. Let’s do what we can to meet their needs and point them to the love of Jesus.

Kathleen Hardage was a teacher for almost 30 years in Texas public schools. She is also a minister’s wife, so she has her feet in both worlds of school and church.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on local schools and the faith community.

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