I have written previously about the vision and mission of my son, Matthew John Armstrong. On this Independence Day (2011) I think it is worthwhile to share a little more about Matt's vision since he is working tirelessly to bring spiritual, eternal freedom to multitudes of young people across America. Matt served his nation in the Army in the 1990s and now serves the church through a mission that I hope multitudes will someday discover and use in their local church.
Matt helped to launch a strategic ministry to kids in the public schools over a decade ago. He has been an elementary public school teacher and is bi-lingual. He has a tremendous heart for kids and the poor. Toward the end of 2010 Matt began to sense that Crossroads needed to develop its unique blend of mission in schools with the whole Christian Church across the nation. He began in March to develop clubs in the tri-states: Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. (One club will likely begin this fall in south Georgia because a pastor read this blog a few months ago and responded in a remarkable way!)
Recently Matt appeared on the morning program of Moody radio in Chicago. He was interviewed by my good friend Mark Elfstrand and I thought both Mark and Matt came through strongly with the vision of Crossroads. Here is the link to the program. If you would like to hear the vision and heart of my son then please listen. If you are interested in reaching kids in your area public schools please listen. If you believe the local church should get involved in its own neighborhood by reaching kids in the public schools then listen. The potential of this strategy is immense. It links the church to the school in a way that few Christians even know can be done. And the curriculum and mission is available to all Christian churches.
Please pray for Matt and Adriana while they dream and work very hard to reach the most reachable people in our culture before they develop deep hostility to the gospel of Jesus. Kids are both vulnerable and teachable. Who will go to them with the love of Jesus from the churches in your city?
You can check out Crossroads online. There are three key pieces to Crossroads’ strategy for helping local churches to engage with local public elementary schools. These are:
1. Know the FACTS
Many churches are unaware of the access that they have to public schools. When a school district opens up its doors to outside groups of any kind, it has created what the law calls a “limited public forum.” The forum is limited in that a school is able to limit the scope of the public access to particular types of activities, but it is public, which means that a district cannot restrict the free-speech rights of forum participants. Crossroads can help you understand what access you might have in your particular local school based on some preliminary research of that individual school. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more.
2. Make FRIENDS
While it is important to know the facts before approaching a school, it is best not to lead with those facts. Rather we advise churches to meet with a school's principal and to seek common ground. You love the children in that school because Jesus loves them. Your love for them means that you want what's best for them. The vast majority of school principals also want to see the children in their schools do well. This common concern for the children can lead to real partnership in time. It is key to approach the school with love and humility and a genuine concern for the students.
3. Share FAITH
Knowing the facts that allow your church to go into a school and developing a friendship with a school’s leadership are solid first steps toward impacting a school community. However, Crossroads believes that we must share the Word of Jesus in addition to his love. It is when children and families respond to Jesus’ invitation to new and abundant life through him that lives are changed and impact is realized. Therefore, we are an unapologetically Christian organization that has a gospel-oriented approach.