By Alison Zeller
Ready or not, here it comes - a new school year!
How is your church going to send off students and teachers? Here are five easy ways you can celebrate the upcoming year and encourage students, teachers, and parents with the Word of God.
- Create a back-to-school worship service.
Many churches host a backpack blessing during a worship service in August. This is a great way to remind students that Jesus will be their source of guidance, love, and protection during the school year. Be sure the service includes special prayers for parents of school-aged children and for teachers, too. For help planning your backpack blessing, check out CTA’s Back-to-School Blessings guide.
Before the service, take back-to-school pictures of the children. If you’re able, provide props like giant numbers to represent their grades or a chalkboard inscribed with “Back to School" and include the year in the picture. As you take the pictures, keep track of the parents’ e-mail addresses and send them digital copies.
As kids leave church, hand out a special back-to-school gift. Here’s a quick idea: purchase glow-in-the-dark necklaces and insert them into a card that reads: “Can’t wait to see you shine at school this year!”
- Host a back-to-school party in Sunday school.
Hang up balloons and serve some cake - make it a real party!
For the lesson, discuss questions like these:
- If you’re worried about the new school year, what can make you feel better? (Psalm 16:7–8)
- If you get into trouble, how will you handle it? (1 John 1:9)
- What if your friends don’t believe in Jesus? (Matthew 5:16)
For craft time, create a “shield of faith” zipper pull for the students’ backpacks. Before the party, trace the shape of a three-inch shield on cardstock and write “shield of faith” on each one. During the party, give children time to decorate the shield while you discuss what it means to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–18) when they go to school. Use laminating paper to cover the cardstock shields, punch a hole in the top, and attach them to the backpack zippers with zip ties. (Or, handout pre-made backpack tags from CTA.)
- Collect and donate backpacks
Think about the students, teachers, and schools that need help. Encourage the families in your church to each donate one backpack full of supplies. Stick to the basics like pencils, notebooks, folders, crayons, and glue. If you have enough support, call your local schools, ask for teachers’ wish lists, and invite families to sponsor a classroom. Stick an invitation to your church in each backpack, along with a fun activity book. Don’t forget to include these supplies and backpacks during your backpack blessing service!
- Pray for students
Parents and teachers deeply care for the children of your church, but those feelings are often overshadowed by the busyness of the school year. Remind parents, teachers, and all of your worshipers to include students in their prayers. You may want to have on hand CTA's “Parents Pray with Hope book,” to help them with this.
- Pray for teachers
Just like students, teachers need our prayers. Encourage parents, staff members, and worshippers to to remember teachers in their daily prayers.
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