ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Small rural churches can impact students in their communities with the Gospel by “adopting” a nearby school — even if they do not have an organized youth ministry.
An “Adopt A School” plan — detailed at www.everyschool.com — has existed for several years, but alerting smaller churches in rural areas to the outreach has been a challenge, said Len Taylor, who oversees student evangelism efforts at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.
“Public school campuses are a mission field,” Taylor said, “and we want individuals, churches, grandmothers or whatever to adopt the school and start a process to get the Gospel on that campus.
“The problem is that the large schools are not just in the largest cities. They’re in rural America. And the small churches in rural America who don’t have youth leaders haven’t heard the message,” he said, because much of the focus of Adopt A School communications has been through church staff members who work with youth.
Adopting a school is the first step in a process that can lead to other evangelism strategies, including student-led Christian clubs on campus and the commissioning of students as “campus missionaries.” But adopting a school can begin with something as small as a commitment to begin praying for students in a school, or finding ways of getting involved in schools.
The www.everyschool.com website also suggests an approach called “First Things First,” in which three Christians meet three times a week to pray for each other and three non-Christian friends each.
“The result? Three Christian students are praying for nine friends who need Christ,” according to the website.
The website itself plays an important role. Through online communications, relationships begin to develop for attempting larger joint efforts such as a campus club, Taylor said.
A student, a concerned adult or an entire church can undertake school adoption. The website offers specific steps for adopters in each category.
Taylor told of one pastor in Texas who decided his church needed to adopt a school. He attended a basketball game as an initial show of interest and wound up talking with a teacher in the next seat about how his church could help the school.
“A year and a half later that church is doing a Teacher Appreciation Day,” Taylor said. “… Now that church has a huge impact on the school.”
He noted that the Adopt A School effort also helps build relationships with likeminded evangelical Christians of other denominations.
“What God’s doing is incredible,” Taylor said. “If a Southern Baptist church will start a school campus ministry, and the students on campus start participating, that draws in … other evangelical churches. Then the adults in those congregations also get involved.”
For more information, visit the www.everyschool.com website or contact NAMB’s student evangelism office at (770) 410-6344.