As a school leader, establishing structure is a large part of your job. Building structure is simply deciding what gets into your school, what stays, and why it gets to be there. You are creating an environment where people grow at an accelerated rate, and everything you build communicates what you value. Structure is the organizational and physical aspects of a school that support the how and why of its culture. Some people in your environment will adopt your culture without ever knowing how or why. Staff must be able to teach students the how and why; this is the key to sustaining those values, and to building culture that lasts!
We’d like to share three keys on how to make homework a valuable part of school structure.
Homework is Time with God
Homework is vital to a student’s learning experience. It is more than reciting back answers. It requires students to leave school’s charged atmosphere and begin to build their own atmosphere at home. Many assignments include additional reading or activate students outside class.
In a university, homework is a measuring stick for how well students learn facts. In a school of ministry, homework develops mentalities that can’t necessarily be tested on paper. Students receive feedback on their work, but it is centered around their personal process with God. We all need to learn how to develop our own deep connection with the Lord. We need to learn that He responds to us when we are by ourselves and not just in a great worship set! Building a history with God is the most significant thing a student can do. This is what homework creates space for.
Talking to your students about the focus of their homework can be helpful. Even something as simple as calling it “encounter work” can help them get the right perspective. The point of homework is not to get every student to the same place in their walk with God. It is to help each of them on their way to their next breakthrough. You are building a school structure that supports original thought and genuine learning. You are looking for questions, for disagreements, for stories. Homework is an exercise to put what students have learned into words for themselves. In finding their own words, they will begin to own truths that will carry them far past graduation.
Homework Needs Relationship
Students need relationship with leadership to get the most out of their homework. Many things can affect what a student is or isn’t getting out of their schoolwork load. For some it could be too easy, too time-consuming, or beyond their reading level. At Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, it’s often said, “Your homework isn’t just something t for your intern to read. Your homework is for your spiritual growth and development.” Not everyone’s homework needs to be customized, but to some it can make all the difference.
Some students have their lives changed by an intern or pastor believing in them, cultivating their potential, and pushing them to try harder. Other students can be given more time to finish, to give their best to their work. Some students may even break off perfectionism by being asked to hand in imperfect work. It all depends on what they need. There are many, many things you will never know about your students until you ask or until they choose to tell you. Your job is to keep the door of trust open, and to help them get the most out of their school experience.
Homework Needs Engagement
Ministry school can be an overwhelming experience, akin to trying to drink from a fire hose. There is such depth and scope to every core value and every sermon that we will all spend the rest of our lives learning. No one can grow in every direction in one school year. Homework is not about getting every single revelation. It is about students taking time to process what they are getting out of that fire hose.
Students need to know that everything is their choice. It is their choice to attend and to fully take part in class. It’s their choice to complete assignments well when they could do less than their best. It is their choice to get something out of school (and no amount of completed homework can guarantee that). It is their choice to build deep relationships, and to grow deep in intimacy with the Lord. Students need to know that what they get out of school will be proportional to what they put into it. They will be changed by what they immerse themselves in. What changes them will be what they take with them when school is over.
Cast Vision, Find Purpose
Homework can be as simple as “Have a conversation with a friend this week about __ and share __.” It can be taking a risk, it can be singing a prophetic song, or writing an essay, or performing a skit. The format is up to you. Homework is anything that helps students process outside of school. The core purpose of assigning homework is to train your students in their walk with the Lord. To push them, encourage them, guide them, and inspire them to keep growing. And show them how.
Talk to your students about homework, and what they are getting out of it. Ministry school is a place for people to learn how to think, communicate, take risk, and discover. To become more alive. To get more of God, and to encounter Him daily. Homework helps it all sink in, process, and continue to grow.
We encourage you to dig deep with your students in their process and their journey with homework. May your school be known for supernatural growth that is deep, wide, and lasting!