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Small Ministry, Big Endeavor


From "Pay It Forward: Follow Our Ministry's Lead for Partnering With -- and Blessing -- Your Local Schools" (Children's Ministry Magazine, July/August 2009)...

Children's ministries can have a huge impact on local schools -- in so many ways! Just like the children's ministry at New Hope Church in New Hope, Minnesota, our church has had great success partnering with our local school. (See "Pay It Forward (CMM July/Aug 2009.) And our church is small, with only about 250 people. Here's what our children's ministry at Crosstown Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is doing to partner with our local public school, Lake Nokomis Community School.

• Open Doors -- God opened the door for me to go to a fifth grade class twice per week for 45 minutes to help students with basic tutoring. I wanted to volunteer at the school but didn't know if the school needed help. Then God orchestrated chance conversation where the school's social worker mentioned to one of our church members that the school needed tutors. God put it all together. Eventually word spread, and two others from our church joined me in going to the school to tutor kids.

• Partnerships -- The school is in an area with a large Hispanic population. So it was only natural to our church to consider an outreach event for Cinco de Mayo. We found out that the school did a celebration, so we asked if we could help them with a carnival for families. We provided 10 to 12 volunteers to help with games and food booths, and we've done this for three years now.

• Events -- Our pastor and I met with both school principals, first at the school, and then at our location. Out of these meetings, the school asked whether they could use our building for the fifth grade musical and the sixth grade overnight. We enthusiastically agreed, and we've sponsored those events for two years.

• Special Requests -- During our time working with the schools, they've begun asking us for specific help. "Do you have anyone who could help with our library move for a few days?" "We're having a workday for teachers. Do you have anyone who could come and do activities for the kids of parents who are working?" "Would your church be our emergency site?" Of course, we say yes!

Last year, the school principal asked if we'd be interested in having an after-school program meet at our facility. We began that program in the fall of 2007. We had between 25-35 kids attend for homework help and special activity classes such as cooking, tying blankets for orphanages, making Christmas ornaments, building pinewood derby cars, assembling health care bags for homeless families, pottery making, and more.

• Good Will -- One really cool thing is that the principals and staff and parents of the school all speak of the "partnership" they have with Crosstown Covenant Church. The students' parents have held two spaghetti supper fundraisers in our facility and think it's the perfect place. From that parent contact, we became the site for the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby Race. In fact, their leaders asked us to provide a supper and charge for it to raise funds for any mission project our church might have -- a win-win! Every group that uses our building makes posters and hangs them all around the school and community with Crosstown Covenant's name plastered on them -- giving God's church a face in the community.

• Appreciation -- Two years ago, we began an appreciation dinner for the teachers and staff of the school. We invite 30 to 40 staff to come to our church for lunch on a work day when teachers have to be a school but kids have the day off. We serve a sit-down lunch and our church members serve them. They've been amazed and delighted by this gesture.

God has done this great work in our community and as a result our church has become a part of the neighborhood. The school has initiated the majority of the ideas for sharing space and resources, and we strive to do whatever we can to partner with them. We've seen students cross over from the after-school program to our children's ministry. And, the kids and families from our neighborhood recognize that our church is a place where people care and their children are welcome and safe.


Deb Laws is the children's pastor at Crosstown Covenant church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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