Starting in the Fall of 2011, ROCKHARBOR began to seek God in terms of where and how to invest in local schools in our community. As we look at their current state, we find that this is a vast mission field that exists in our own backyards. There are significant challenges our schools face in the way of finances, teachers, academic performance, and overall character development. And there are countless opportunities for the Church to step in, show them Jesus, and help meet practical needs.
This is an area where we hope to be invested for the long haul. 10 years down the road, we want to see all of our campuses vibrantly involved with different schools here in Orange County. To that end, this first year has been and will continue to be marked by us finding our way. We have been seeking God and asking Him to lead us. And He has started to bring some great clarity about the ways to approach our local schools. Going forward, here’s the areas we’ll focus our efforts in:
Many of our area schools have invited volunteers into a mentoring relationship with students. With the breakdown of family and the erosion of strong parenting, principals and administrators have realized the profound effect of a caring adult in the life of a student – adults who will commit to advocate, cheerlead, and provide a listening ear. We work with the counseling staff of various schools to supply them with trained volunteers ready and excited to mentor at-risk students weekly in either a 1-on-1 or or small group setting. These mentoring efforts have proven to increase test scores, lower drop-out rates, and correct behavior issues in dramatic ways. They have also given the Church an opportunity to speak words of hope and love into the lives of our most vulnerable youth.
We recognize that academic success is the primary key to youth achievement, and it’s to this end that we invest in the area of tutoring. Our county’s test scores and reading levels are dangerously low in underprivileged neighborhoods where programs have been cut, resources are scarce, and teachers are overwhelmed. In response to this need, we have collaborated with area schools and various youth education programs to provide an avenue for academic tutoring. Some of these tutoring opportunities take place on school campuses while others occur at learning centers around the city. There are on-going weekly opportunities at both the elementary and secondary school levels, plus seasonal events like the “Spring Reading” project.
Some needs in our local schools are so great they require the response of not a small group, but an army. There is something profound about tackling a need side-by-side with others… together. It changes our community, and it changes us. Throughout the year, ROCKHARBOR works alongside other churches on things like back-to-school drives, Christmas stores, and VBS summer programs. These are massive undertakings where everyone gets to jump into the action and play a part. “School Beautification” is another example of this; opportunities to band together with other churches and community groups to beautify our school campuses by cleaning, painting, gardening, construction, etc.
Teacher & Parent Care
In all of our efforts on behalf of the youth, it is important that we continue to support the primary guiding lights in their lives: parents and teachers. Many families struggle with single parents and multiple jobs, and almost all of our teachers navigate budget cuts, under-staffing, declining morale, and increasing work loads. We have many opportunities to meet significant personal and practical needs for these heroic adults. Our annual “Teacher Appreciation Breakfast” is a time to bless our educators through encouragement, connection, prayer, and resources. Community development programs like MIKA’s “Share Your English” aim to give parents a welcoming place to receive practical assistance, guidance, and advice. We also resource and support several PTA groups and a “Dad’s Club” where dads get together, share life, and encourage each other toward the high call of parenting effectively.
- We want to see our schools develop students who are being adequately equipped with a variety of educational resources.
- We want to see students be given the same opportunities regardless of socioeconomic status and geographical location.
- Being invested in our local schools allows the opportunity for the church to reach out to our community in tangible ways and allows God’s love to be displayed.
Find out more
Check the ministries section of any campus website or email the Schools team for more info.