I get lots of e-mails asking how we do certain things as a church. I usually figure that when several people are asking the same question, it represents a larger audience wanting to know the same answers. This post is an example of that thought.
Recently, I was asked what suggestions I have for a church planning to start meeting in a school facility. Grace Community Church has met in our high school for three years now, and it has been a blessing to us and the school, from feedback I have received. Here are 7 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.
Grow volunteers – 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 have sharpened their leadership skills and realized the joy of investing in God’s Kingdom and seeing the results it brings.
Love the school – We support the school we are in more than just on Sunday morning. We support their activities, we attend their ballgames, and we try to meet needs the school has as we are 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 realize that the school building’s primary purpose is to educate children during the week. We know we are an added burden to the facility. We see it as a win/win for our school, but we don’t take it for granted that we are secondary in importance at the school.
Be a blessing – At the end of our time in the school, whenever that may come, our goal is that we will actually be missed by the school…and not just for the money we bring to the table. We have as a goal to be a blessing to the school. With that as a goal and mindset, it forces us to find ways to help the school outside of the money we pay for usage.
Don’t interrupt school – We respect the facility as a place for education, and we never try to use our influence at the school to trump a school activity. We know we are a secondary use so we gladly bow out if a school situation arises. Our school doesn’t do much on Sundays, and if it did, that may create problems, but the few times there has been a Sunday conflict, we have 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 changes the perspective of our staff and key leaders when we see our money going to make the education process better, not just as a rental line item on our income statement. Schools are always struggling to fund adequate resources, and we think our money helps. That makes writing checks so much more pleasant!
Acknowledge critical players – The relationships you have with school officials are critical to making any agreement work. There are some people who make meeting in a school a positive or negative experience. That may include school district officials, the school administration, teachers, and custodians. We especially are sensitive to the teachers who teach in areas where we meet in the school because we realize we are sharing space with them. Our experience is that the custodians play a large role in our success in the school, so we try 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?