Over the years I have received lots of emails asking how we did certain things as a church meeting in a school. I am blessed to pastor a church now with an amazing facility, but my roots are deep in churches meeting in schools. It’s a unique ministry and opportunity. I usually figure that when several people are asking the same question, it represents a larger audience wanting to know the same answers.
Here are seven suggestions for churches meeting in a school.
Most of these are more philosophy than actions, but with them as our paradigm it helps direct our actions.
Being in a borrowed facility forces the church to rely on lots of volunteer labor to set up and tear down each week. This can be stressful on people, but it also creates an opportunity to raise up new volunteer leadership. Our church would never happen without the countless hours of donated time, but in the process volunteers sharpened their leadership skills and realize the joy of investing in God’s Kingdom and seeing the results it brings.
Love the school
We supported the school we are in more than just on Sunday morning. We supported their activities, we attended their ballgames and we tried to meet needs the school had as we were made aware of them.
Realize it’s not a rental situation
You may be paying rent, but more than renting a space, you are borrowing a facility that has another intended purpose. We realized the school building’s primary purpose is to educate children during the week. We knew we were an added burden to the facility. We saw it as a win/win for our school, but we didn’t take it for granted that we were secondary in importance at the school.
Be a blessing
At the end of our time in the school, whenever it may come, our goal was we would actually be missed by the school—and not just for the money we brought to the table. We had as a goal to be a blessing to the school. With this as a goal and mindset, it forced us to find ways to help the school outside of the money we paid for usage. We volunteered at their events. We helped with special projects. We allowed them to use our equipment at times.
Don’t interrupt school
We respected the facility as a place for education and we never tried to use our influence at the school to trump a school activity. We knew we were a secondary use and so we gladly bowed out if a school situation arose. Our school didn’t do much on Sundays, and if it did it would have created more problems, but the few times there was a Sunday conflict we tried to be accommodating to the school’s needs more than our own. We would rather be inconvenienced than for them to be because of us.
View your money as a contribution
It changed the perspective of our staff and key leaders when we saw our money going to make the education process better, not just as a rental line item on our income statement. Schools were always struggling to fund adequate resources and we believed our money helped. This made writing checks so much more pleasant!
Acknowledge critical players
The relationships you have with school officials is critical to making any agreement work. There are some people who make meeting in a school a positive or negative experience. This may include school district officials, the school administration, teachers and custodians. We were especially sensitive to the teachers who teach in areas where we meet in the school because we realized we were sharing space with them. Our experience was the custodian plays a large role in any churches success in the school, so we tried to respect and show appreciation to them.
Have you been a part of a church meeting in a school? What did you do to make the arrangement work?