I drive past an elementary school near our church every time I go to our local YMCA. When I say "near our church," I mean that most of us could easily walk to the campus from the doors of Westbury. This past Sunday, the Houston Chronicle printed their annual "School Report Card," and I looked up this campus. Overall, the school was rated "Academically Unnacceptable," the lowest possible rating. Over 96% of the kids in this school are listed as being from low income families.
Not long ago, I shared with the church my own belief (and I believe this is from God) that our church should take responsibility for the condition of our community. As such, we should not settle for a failing grade on a school that close to us. Now, of course I know that such an idealistic attitude overshadows some real questions. We cannot erase all of the problems in our community. But at least we can do something. And I believe a great way to start "doing something" as a church is for us to adopt a local school. When I first shared this with WBC in a sermon last month, the response was incredible. People are excited about the possibilities of such a program. Obviously, this ministry effort won't be for everyone, since we all have diverse gifts, passions and callings in the Body of Christ. But I believe adopting a school will mobilize quite a few of us...and that those who join in this effort will see other needs in our community, which will mobilize still other WBC members, and so on, and so on...
Since that Sunday, I have been researching the best way for us to proceed. There are many groups that offer good adopt-a-school programs, so there is no reason for us to re-invent the wheel. Three such groups are:
Mission Houston, which is starting a bold new Whole and Healthy Children Initiative in the coming school year. More info can be found here.
Kids Hope, which offers a nationally recognized program. Find out more here.
The Urban Alternative, which has offered its National Adopt-a-School Initiative since 1985. TUA is led by Dr. Tony Evans. A video and other info are here.
As you will see if you visit those websites, all three programs are good. They each have their advantages and disadvantages in our particular context. My plan is to meet with representatives of all three groups and to find out all I can, and that we can adopt a school in the coming academic year (2008-2009). Join me in praying that God would lead us to the right program, and that through this WBC would more effectively transform our community for Christ!