• Church
  • 5 Ways that Churches Can Support Local Schools

    school building

    One of the things that I love about Sun City Church is our commitment to invest in local schools.  We’re living in a day where so many of the things churches value are fought over.  Our society is more polarized than ever.  But one thing we can all continue to rally around is our schools.  It’s easy to understand that the future of our country walks through the doors of local schools every day.  And as a pastor, this makes schools one of the obvious places to focus our time and energy.

    Christian leaders often times have a desire to serve schools and make a difference in the lives of young people.  And what we’ve found is that the schools need a lot of help.  They are commonly underfunded and understaffed.  What is a challenge for them creates a big opportunity for churches.  We get to step in and show the love that we are called to display in our cities.  Yes, there are going to be people that get uncomfortable and squawk a bit about the separation of church and state.  But at the end of the day, if churches are adding value in the lives of teachers and students without trying to push “religion” on anyone, schools are open to connection.

    The elementary school we’ve focused our attention on is McDonald Elementary.  I want to share with you some of the things we’ve done so far in supporting this school in hopes that ideas like this would spread to other churches and schools.

    1. A Prayer Team

    I think this group is our most important so I’m listing it first.  One of the women in our church that has kids at McDonald leads a small group that prays for the school, students, staff and events going on there every week.  They also take action and respond to needs that arise during the week – putting feet to their prayers.  They make a habit of writing little notes to teachers letting them know what they’ve prayed specifically for them and that they’re not alone in this.  This has really created a fertile ground in people’s hearts.

    2. Mentorship & Tutoring

    This is a huge need for schools.  They need adults to show up and spend time with students who aren’t getting appropriate attention or positive role models at home.  I think we underestimate the effect that a positive attitude and faith perspective can have in a relatively short amount of time.  Whether it’s reading, going over times tables, or just having lunch with a student, positive interactions communicate that we love and care for the people within the school, not just the idea of a partnership.

    3. Supply Drives

    Because schools are often so poorly funded, they don’t have extra supplies to give to children in need.  In the fall, we do a backpack drive for our school and fill the backpacks with school supplies so that the counselor can give them to students whose families can’t afford them.  This is a relief to the school counselor and a great gift to these children.  And it’s a tangible way we can show that we love them.

    4. Event Support

    Almost every church has some people in it who are good at putting on events.  Youth pastors normally have an ability to come up with and host great games that kids love.  Others can administrate and keep things organized.  We’ve found that showing up with great games, costumes and energy can transform a normal event for the school into a huge success.  Everyone likes the feeling of a success.  Sometimes we bring our sound system to events like the end of the year “field day” and take the atmosphere to another level.  The kids and teachers love it.

    5. Meeting Urgent Needs

    We know that our world is broken and painful.  The kids at schools experience that alongside the rest of us.  This year our school has had 3 different students diagnosed with cancer.  It’s been a really hard road for them, their families and the school as a whole.  Again, this is a sad challenge to have to face for the families and the school, but it’s an opportunity for the church to show Christ’s love in the midst of suffering.  We’ve held prayer events, given gifts, reached out to families and tried to do everything we can to show we care.  We regularly connect with the principal and the school counselor in order to stay in the loop with the big things that are happening in the lives of the students and staff.  Often times, there are meaningful ways we can jump in and support them.

    I had the privilege of sitting down with a senior pastor who’s new to our area this week.  I was thrilled when he said, “your reputation in our community is that you care deeply about our schools and really get out of your four walls”.  I’m so glad to be known for something like this.  I’m praying this encourages you to do something similar in your city.  Your schools need you and even little things can make a huge impact.

  • Church
  • Top 5 Moments from ARC Conference 2016

    ARC Conference 2016

    I spent last week in Birmingham, Alabama for the ARC Conference. I’m continually impressed by ARC and the level of excellence that surrounds everything they do. It’s a long way from Spokane to Birmingham. But every time I get the opportunity to spend time there, I’m inspired and encouraged to take everything we do to new levels.

    There were some incredible moments over the 2-day conference. I thought I’d share with you some of the best.

    1. John Gray

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    If you’ve never heard of John Gray, you need to check him out. The guy is flat out the funniest preacher I’ve ever heard. He’s got the ability to get you rolling with laughter and then drop a bomb of revelation from the scripture that blows your mind.

    John’s message to ARC was about Jesus’ road from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross. It was filled with insight and a challenge to accept God’s call to the place of crushing in order to sow your life for the cause of the gospel. My favorite quote from his message:

    “Jesus planted himself in the ground, so you could plant yourself in your city.”

    2. Chris Hodges

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    One of my favorite things about ARC conferences is the world-class lineup of speakers. The general sessions are non-stop wisdom and grace-filled instruction. And then you head to the App Sessions and hear from some of the best leaders in the Body of Christ…in a smaller environment that allows for questions. What kind of conference has leaders like Larry Stockstill and John & Lisa Bevere teaching breakout sessions? These guys are some of the very best.

    Yet after getting to hear so many amazing leaders, it’s Chris Hodges’ words that stick in my heart and mind. When I’m riding home on the plane and compiling a list of action items to attend to when I’m back in Spokane, it’s Pastor Chris’ messages that weigh heaviest upon my mind. He has been chosen by God to help lead this movement of church planters and I’m so thankful that God connected us.

    Pastor Chris’ message on Tuesday night was my favorite of the week. He focused on the most important aspect of life and ministry: relationships. He unveiled how the enemy would like nothing more than to keep us from having deep and intimate relationships in all areas of life because it’s intimacy that leads to reproduction and multiplication. Progress and growth in our life and ministry is totally dependent on removing our masks and being authentic with those that the Lord’s called us into relationship with. I loved his thought reflecting on Proverbs 27:6 –

    “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

    3. Church of the Highlands Worship Team

    These guys are soooooo good. It’s really nice to get caught up into God’s presence without worrying about what comes next. That’s a rarity for me these days. I’m grateful for the worship at ARC that was led by worship leaders from across the nation. Every single one was fantastic. But there was this one moment where the Highlands Team led a rendition of “O Praise the Name”. We did this song for Easter…but this arrangement was amazing.  Heaven came down.

    4. Willie George

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    Willie George is the Lead Pastor of Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s a legend. Jamie and I spent several years serving in a youth ministry called “Oneighty” in at Westside Church. Willie George was the guy who started this movement to reach youth back in the 90’s. His message was the most intellectually deep as he unpacked the 4 faces of leadership from Ezekiel 1. It was fascinating to see the principles in play in Jesus’ life throughout the 4 gospels and then have them applied to my life as a spiritual leader. As he was wrapping up, only one word came to mind – “Masterful”. Willie taught us that as leaders we are called to:

    – Communicate
    – Protect
    – Serve
    – Overcome death by resurrection power

    My favorite quote from his message:

    “All crosses are temporary. We will be called on to go to a cross, but every death is followed by a glorious resurrection.”

    5. After Party

    fireworks

    Every time I’m around the ARC family they are finding a way to bless me. This year was no exception. Free bottled water and coffee. Free T-Shirts. Really nice dessert bars (again free). Breakfast and lunch provided for us on both days. And then to finish it all of they threw a really cool “after party” on the front lawn. Live music out on a stage. Amazing BBQ catered by Jim and Nicks. S’mores and banana pudding. It all ended with a fireworks display! Are you kidding me? Who has fireworks for their conference?? The after party gave us all time to enjoy each other and build relationships that will strengthen us in the days to come.

    I’m always impressed by what ARC has up their sleeve. I’m blessed to be a part of this tribe. Thank you, ARC. This church planter is filled up and ready to keep pressing in.