Five Ways Your Church Can Have a Major Impact as the New School Year Begins


I have always been weird.

While most of my childhood peers lamented the beginning of a new school year, I looked forward to it with enthusiasm. I loved the opportunity to learn and discover new vistas.

As a pastor, I saw the beginning of a school year as an opportunity to try new approaches and to make a statement about the priorities of our congregation. Over the past three decades, I have been blessed to hear from other church leaders on a multitude of topics. Let me share with you what I have heard about great success stories of churches as a new school year approached. They are basic but profound.

  1. Recommit to becoming a welcoming church. September could be the month where you see a greater regular flow of guests. Families often move in the summer, so their children can start in a new school at the beginning of the school year. Take a look at two of my books to help guide you in this recommitment. Becoming a Welcoming Church is pretty much a complete guide for your church leaders and members. We Want You Here is a unique book meant specifically for the guest as a gift. Both books are only $5 when purchased in a case of 20 books. Commercial over.
  2. Dedicate a part of a worship service to praying for students and teachers. We recently did that at our church. And we followed the service by writing brief thank you letters to the teachers at one of the schools near us. It had a huge impact on both the teachers and on our members.
  3. Adopt a school. Request a meeting with a local school principal. Ask him or her what your church could do to best help the school. If it is within the scope of what the church can do, organize a ministry to meet that very need. Some churches paint classrooms. Some churches clean school grounds. Other churches provide back-to-school resources for students and/or teachers.
  4. Revitalize the groups in your church. Regardless of what you call them, community groups, life groups, Sunday school classes, or many other names, these groups are the lifeblood of assimilation, ministry, and stewardship in your church. Do whatever is necessary with a new school year beginning to re-energize and grow your groups.
  5. Re-cast the vision of the church. Many church leaders re-cast the vision of the church at the beginning of the calendar year. Consider casting the vision at the beginning of the school year. You will likely have more new members and guests in September than in January. You have a great opportunity to ride the wave of freshness that a new school year brings.

These are five of the most effective back-to-school ideas I have heard from churches all across North America and beyond. But this blog has several million faithful audience members. I know many of you have some great ideas. Please share them with our community.

Posted on August 20, 2018

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • John Nixdorf says on

    If you have any families whose children attend private school, or who are homeschooling, don’t forget to include them.

  • Carol DeNeve says on

    For 3 years our church has been providing healthy food weekly during the Summer for those kids who receive breakfast and lunch from the school during the school year. At the end of the Summer the church purchases backpacks and school supplies for those kids. We also have an end of Summer bash for all the families and provide vouchers for the Community clothes closet and for free haircuts. It has been a great success.

  • Mary Humphrey says on

    Donations of school supplies by our members helped us put together over 100 packets of supplies and with the left over case we purchased school room supplies for the teachers. Several of our members attended the back to school event to hand out the supplies.

  • All great ideas, no doubt. Our church does a “Good News Club” in a local school. If you’re interested in knowing more, contact Child Evangelism Fellowship. We’ve been doing one for several years now, and the kids always look forward to it. I have several people in my church who work in the school system. At the beginning of each semester, kids will come up to them and ask, “When does Good News Club start?”

  • Thank you for this encouraging and yet challenging blog here!

    This year, the superintendent of our school asked if they could do their convocation at our church. He then asked if I could speak to all of the odd workers (teachers, bus drivers, grounds, maintenance, secretaries, and on). So they all met at our church for their first official day of school. We decorated for it, gave out goodie bags and door prizes for teachers and fed them breakfast. As the pastor, I was then given the opportunity to tell them how appreciative I and the church are for them and what they do for our children! It was a great success!

  • Tony Jones says on

    We’ve done two things to begin the school year. First, we served supper at school the night before school started. We’re a small school, 160 students K-6, and the night before school is meet the teacher night. It’s hard to get to school to meet the teacher, cook supper, then get the kids in bed at a decent hour, so we just fixed supper. It was the best outreach event we’ve done in my five years here. We were asked to do it again next year.
    Second, I’ve been using social media to encourage teachers. They hear enough criticism. They need to hear how appreciated they are. That has been well received not just by the teachers but by a lot of the parents as well.

    • Vickie Horton says on

      HI Tony, Thank you for your idea! We are a small church, about 25 people and most are elderly – late 70-80. Would you mind telling me what your church cooked for the crowd. One of our younger ladies suggested similar, teacher appreciation dinner for approximately 150, we are trying to get our arms around what to prepare and how we could effectively serve so many.

      I’d appreciate any information you are willing to share.

      • Tony Jones says on

        We did hot dogs, chips, and drinks. My 12 year old daughter made brownies, nothing too extravagant because most of the people who came through were headed to meet their teachers. We’re an older congregation too, but this was by far and away our best outreach event. How big is your school?

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Love it, Tony! Thanks.

  • I like to thank you for the adoption of a school. Very helpful