By Jenny Howell
Sinking into the couch one Friday night with coffee in one hand and my desk calendar in the other, I began the inaugural filling in of the family fall schedule while simultaneously making semi-urgent requests to God. Somehow, this summer came and went faster than my other 24 summers as a mom.
It takes a special kind of grit to juggle the family schedules, plan for after-school care, and organize carpool. Who knew parents and caregivers would need a degree in management to navigate going back to school every fall?
We are doing the meaningful work of helping our kids learn how to show up, give their best, and work through day-to-day joys and pains within friendship, family, and school.
Families who create space for weekly church involvement during the school year allow ministry leaders to partner with them to offer support, encourage growth in God’s Word, and widen their hopeful community.Families who create space for weekly church involvement during the school year allow ministry leaders to partner with them to offer support, encourage growth in God’s Word, and widen their hopeful community. Click To Tweet
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23–25 (CSB)
From school supply shopping to meet-the-teacher moments, families are gearing up for the new school year—with its exciting and exhausting realities. Thankfully, God remains unshaken when the logistics of life feel like a lot of fun with a side of chaos. God hears our prayers and meets us there.
“Lord, I know we’ve been here before. You, sitting here with me, guiding me, promising to provide, offering discernment, and reminding me it’s OK to have unknown plans while holding onto hope in our day-to-day lives. I believe You will fill in the gaps where we need help. Thank you, God, for lining our path with favorable plans and faithful people to encourage our family as we trust in You to lead us into the back-to-school routine. Amen.”
Partnering with parents
Ministry leaders know this rhythm so well. We gather teams to dream about back-to-school events and put dates on calendars to welcome families into our ministry spaces. We seek to engage in kids’ lives throughout the week, offering support as a new school year begins and beyond. The back-to-school season is full of incredible opportunities to partner with parents and encourage discipleship in everyday family life at home, in carpool, and within busy routines.
Creating connection times in cadence with back-to-school calendars allows churches to stand in the gap to support families, grow with kids navigating change, and overwhelm them with the hope of the gospel. Creating connection times in cadence with back-to-school calendars allows churches to stand in the gap to support families, grow with kids navigating change, and overwhelm them with the hope of the gospel. Click To Tweet
Oftentimes, at the start of the school year parents are asking questions to see if the church will be a safe place for their family to learn, grow, and worship. These questions may sound like this:
- “Will I find support and a caring community here?”
- “How will my kids connect with so many faces?”
- “What if I share my personal struggles and I’m not understood?”
- “When will I have a chance to get to know the staff and leaders?”
- “Is there a place for me to belong and serve?”
- “Am I welcome, even if I don’t have an understanding of the Bible?”
As real-life struggles are woven into the day-to-day realities of parents and kids, the church has the privilege to offer the stability of Christ in the valley and on the mountaintop—all year long.
Ways to encourage families in the back-to-school season:
- Help parents connect with one another through community group sign-ups aimed at serving families with school-aged kids.
- Celebrate the new school year with a promotion Sunday or special event.
- Give families a break with a parent’s night out and provide a fun game or movie night for kids.
- Host a back-to-school party to introduce your family ministry team.
- Create an opportunity at check-in or after services for families in need of extra encouragement to connect with ministry leaders. Follow up and engage year-round.
- Plan an equipping day where parents can learn more about biblical discipleship at home and how to help kids and students navigate the realities of cultural influences.
High-fives to all the ministry leaders whose hearts are for families to know and live God’s truth and who are committed to showing up week after week to walk with kids and parents throughout the school year. You are stepping in and leading by example with both your strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s pray the kickoff of church events encourages families in their back-to-school rhythms with a tribe of people to journey through every joy and trial this year.
Along with a BS in Early Childhood Education from Toccoa Falls College and a 30-hour Bible & Theology ETA certificate, Jenny has been leading in the local church for 20 years. She has given her all to kids, students, and women’s ministries across the country. She says her best experience has grown from mothering her five favorite kids. She is passionate about connecting biblical hope with the hearts of women through her writing and speaking.
For permission to republish this article, please email Marissa Postell Sullivan.