There is a segment of the population that youth pastors ignore and frankly we’re missing out. I’m talking about school teachers. Think about this. We get 1-3 hours a week with our students. Teachers get 10-15 hours a week (teachers who coach get significantly more time). Teachers also have access to many more unchurched kids and parents than we will ever hope to influence. That means if we really care about the teens in our cities, then we must find ways to partner with school teachers.
One of my former middle schoolers is now a history teacher in our city. He allows me to spend time in his classroom from time to time and each time I do so it’s an eye opening experience. I see the challenges he faces each day. Not only does he have to motivate kids to learn, he’s also teaching them life skills such as time management, appropriate social interaction, and responsibility. He is a hero in my book because he takes his calling seriously.
Youth pastors can be hesitant to reach out to schools because we’ve been told by the media that schools don’t want us there. While schools may have an official policy against youth pastors evangelizing on campus, most of them want as much community involvement as possible. Chances are there is a teacher in your church who can be a gatekeeper to get on campus. Work with them to help you find a way to get involved in the school.
I’ve found that most teachers genuinely do care for their students and want to make a difference. They are our allies in reaching teens for Christ. Partnership with teachers is something that every youth worker needs in their ministry.
Here’s what I believe effective partnership looks like:
Encourage Them – Most teachers carry the weight of educating kids who are unmotivated and unequipped to learn. They face pressures from parents and administrators. They get beaten down by the system and the day to day grind of teaching. How amazing would it be if you adopted a teacher and made it your ministry to make them feel valued by your church? Write them notes. Bake them some cookies. Give them a gift card. It doesn’t take much to make them feel loved and appreciated for pouring into teens.
Listen to Them – Teachers see and hear things from your students that you will never get to observe. They have valuable insights on what teens are really like. They also can help us become better communicators. I’ve learned a lot about the students in my ministry simply by asking teachers for their opinions. Start a practice of regularly meeting with a teacher and learn from them. You could even invite them to come talk to your leaders and have them share what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Serve Them – Teachers have a lot of busy work that can weigh them down. Volunteer to grade some tests or make copies. Many teachers must provide their own school supplies (papers, pencils…). Serve them by getting some of those needs met. Try asking how you can pray for them and their students.
When we serve teachers we are really serving our students. Each teacher we partner with means 25-30 more students we are impacting. It means another adult who is encouraged to shape the teens we love. Healthy communities require a healthy partnership between churches and schools. What is one thing you going to do to bridge that gap this week?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]