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“SouthLake's partnership with Roosevelt High School is just a beautiful thing. I'm so grateful to be a part of what our church is doing to serve kids and to serve our city, no strings attached!”
– Linda Siegel, Roosevelt Site Coordinator, SouthLake Church
Church & School Partnerships
The realities of student poverty, distractions, complicated lives, and sometimes just crumbling school facilities, take a toll on the education goals of a school. As communities of people drawn together in faith and love, churches are uniquely poised to step into the gap for kids and their communities.
Whether it's volunteering in the classroom to support teachers, or just helping maintain attractive school grounds for students to take pride in, we want to walk the path together. By entering into a supportive partnership with a school, serving without agenda simply because KIDS ARE WORTH IT, we can make the kind of difference that transforms a community, for good.
What to Expect
- Be patient. The workload of school administrators is often strenuous and stressful. It is important to enter into the partnership without unrealistic expectations of the responsiveness of principals and other administrators.
- Be calm. Schools and school districts can sometimes be highly bureaucratic organizations. Expect to work in this environment with patience and without judgment, staying “above the fray” of any in-school political dynamics.
- Be Christ’s love. Administrators, teachers and parents may fear a “religious agenda.” You’re here to do Christ’s work, serving the school’s needs and priorities in love and without an agenda.
What to Do
- Service first. Start out by asking school administrators one question: "How can we help?" Make it clear that your work has no strings and no agenda.
- Start small. An initial focus on filling gaps and meeting the most basic needs within the school helps to build relationship and overcome barriers. Address the school’s greatest priorities with the principal.
- Be open and flexible. Fitting in with the school’s schedule, culture and rules will help you develop positive relationships with office, custodial and other staff.
- Build trust. Remind church volunteers involved in school service projects that proselytizing is inappropriate in the school setting. This will help lay the foundation for longevity.
- Build credibility. Adopting the motto "under-promise and over-perform" builds trust and can establish credibility.
The Site Coordinator
Site Coordinator Video
The Site Coordinator is key to the success of a church–school partnership. The Site Coordinator oversees implementation and day-to-day functions of church service programs and is the glue that holds the church–school partnership together.
Who: The Outreach Pastor, staff member, or a trusted volunteer.
- Serve as the central point person for all projects within a school, handling all school-to-church communication.
- Coordinate with both church and school staff on selection, timing and scope of service projects, keeping church staff informed on the progress and needs of service projects.
- Recruit, train and manage volunteers and key leaders, ensuring that they have the resources and support that they need to carry out their roles, and that the values and vision for the partnership are maintained at every level.
- Coordinate with other community groups (parent groups, other churches, alumni, etc.) who are active in providing support to the school.
- Build relationships with all other school stakeholder groups, as part of the school community.
The Separation of Church and State
Churches and schools involved in church–school partnerships benefit from having a common understanding of separation of church and state issues. As Vanderbilt University's First Amendment Center states:
"Public schools and religious institutions have different missions, but they share many of the same civic and moral values. Both are located in most neighborhoods, and each is committed within its own role to the well-being of children. By working together in ways that are permissible under the First Amendment, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, schools and religious communities can do much to enhance the mission of public education."
However, this should be done in an environment where churches are, in the words of C.S. Lewis, "doing the work for the work's sake"—serving with no religious agenda. Schools should recognize that such partnerships established without bias are permissible under the Constitution.
For more information, visit the First Amendment Center's website: