Sharing the Gospel in Public Schools
In 2004, I lived in the UK and served in the public schools while I was a postgraduate student. In the UK, instead of having the separation of church and state, the church owns the schools. This means students could talk about sensitive faith topics openly and churches paid for dedicated workers called, “Schools Work Coordinators,” to help students concerning their personal faith. While I was unable to proselytize, I could share the Gospel to students if I started with, “Christians believe that…”
Even with this flexibility, I still had a hard time connecting with students until I came across the musical band called, thebandwithnoname. This band was built to reach students in the public schools. I met thebandwithnoname when they performed at a school assembly. Their energy sparked the entire school into excitement for their Friday night concert, where they shared the gospel to hundreds of students who made the decision to follow Christ that night.
I became great friends with the band’s frontman, Chip Kendall. Chip taught me that if I wanted to reach teens, I needed to speak a language that they could understand. He explained to me that if Satan could send false teachers to snatch the souls of students by being a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), then we needed to go into schools as sheep in wolves clothing! From that experience, I spent the early years of Faith 2 Faith Ministries sending out young American people to England as “musicianaries” to serve in bands like thebandwithnoname. I’ve also gotten to work and tour with many bands and groups like, tbc, LZ7 and Twelve24.
These kinds of outreaches worked greatly in public schools all around the UK and the world. But when I came back to America, I learned that evangelists must be more strategic in reaching public school students. The best way to reach students is through other students! Students can be the most influential to their peers when it comes to sharing their faith. They have more freedom to preach the gospel than their teachers do!
We believe the following are great resources to help mobilize and equip students to share their faith to their peers at school:
- The Life Book – This free resource is specifically made for students to give the gift of the Gospel to their peers.
- See You At the Pole – An annual event in September that is nationally recognized where students gather to pray before school at the flagpole. The event is student run and student organized.
- Dare 2 Share – Greg Stier and the Dare 2 Share movement have created incredible resources and events to equip students to share their faith.
- Alpha Youth Film Series – Alpha is a free, interactive video series to help young people discover and deepen their relationship with Jesus. The video curriculum enables students to explore the basics of the Christian faith in a conversation-style approach that is not limited to churches, but also can be facilitated in community spaces and even in school. Alpha is f2fmi’s preferred method of mobilizing and equipping students.
- Lastly, if you want to flat out see the gospel preached during public school lunch time, check out what Ryan Ries is doing with the Whosoevers.
Since it is hard for adults to visit school campuses with the intent of sharing the Gospel, f2fmi created a subsidiary called LifeFAQs.org (Life’s Most Frequently Asked Questions). LifeFAQs is a tool to help educators and students engage the future through coaching and mentoring.
Under this banner, I was able to create the American version of the English “Schools Work Coordinator” and reimagined the assembly tours that started my career. From leading great and impactful assemblies over the years, the schools asked me to develop specialized content to meet their needs. We leaned in and listened and wrote a curriculum that made sense to them while holding to our Christian values. We developed techniques to insert paraphrased Scripture and prompts for students to talk about faith without mentioning the name Jesus.
Our goal is to mobilize the local church to create and build lasting relationships with public school students, to help them set godly goals, and guide them in their development. While we’re not allowed to offer the Gospel during school, we’re still able to train our on-campus mentors to answer questions from their peers with the truth from their own experiences.
If you are interested in ministering in public schools as an adult during the school day, here’s some tips on how to get started:
- Find existing networks such as the National Network of Youth Ministries, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth Alive or Young Life that may already be on campus.
- Work with Christian students that you already have a relationship with to get onto campus. Your student could get you permission to attend their Bible club or similar type of group. You could get permission to eat lunch with your student and through them, meet their friends. You could use the same approach by attending your student’s games. I even registered as a substitute teacher to get onto campus and meet students during school!
- Position yourself to serve the school! Learn the system, learn the people, and build relationships. Serve on the PTO, the Board of Education, different committees or collaborative events connected to the school. Find out if there’s a local CityServe chapter or check out the City Gospel Movements website to see if there is a group of churches already committed to serving your schools. Be prepared to build relationships and be there for the long haul…