Revival is sustained through strong, healthy relationships. They are the bonds that expand heaven on earth. As school leaders, building relationships within your school environment yields breakthrough, victory, and momentum. In fact, choosing to continuously invest in relationships creates a sense of family that cannot be shaken.
As a part of the community of school leaders, you have access to the depth of experience and wisdom from school leaders all over the world. Today, we want to share some relational lessons learned by the Director of Bethel Atlanta School of Supernatural Ministry (BASSM), Lauren Brownlee. She has a wealth of insight to share about how to build a school family around God’s presence! As you read her school story, may God give you strategy and direction to develop a strong relational foundation for your school.
Our Team is Our Family
Before leading BASSM in Atlanta, Georgia, I was a student at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, CA. During that season, My husband and I started a home group that met together to dream about a kingdom culture school in Atlanta. For an entire year, a group of 20 students and I came together once a week and became a family.
When we decided to start a school in Atlanta, 15 members of my home group agreed to move to the city to help start and run the school. It was such a gift to start the school with this initial community that was living the kingdom culture taught at Bethel. As a team, we walked in true identity, actively stepped out in risk, and carried the momentum of the culture we experienced together in Redding. From day one, we were able to create a strong kingdom culture in our school’s environment. As a thriving culture was already established in our team, we were able to focus on strengthening other parts of our school’s structure.
We attribute the school’s initial success to the relational foundation and commitment to kingdom culture we cultivated prior to the start of BASSM. Our school has continued to thrive as our team has prioritized operating as a family. To equip our student body to walk in healthy relationships with each other, we have been very intentional about having a staff team that is pastoral. Their gifting and passion serve our goal to cultivate a thriving school community.
Equipping Students to Create Community
Our church covering, Bethel Atlanta, received a prophetic word that whether our congregation was 50, 500 or 5,000, people will walk into our community and feel loved like they are part of a family. Our school has pressed into this word and we contend for all people who come through our doors to reign in life, living a lifestyle of health and wholeness. We are seeing this happen in a city of six million people that is spread out over 100 miles. So many are experiencing a community where they feel known and loved!
We have intentionally structured our school to meet the challenges that come from living in a large city. Many of our students work full-time jobs and are already doing life with people, which could make it difficult to develop a strong sense of connection in our school. However, we have found ways to create community and a full-time school experience for them using a part-time school schedule.
For example, at the beginning of the year, all of our students attend a retreat. During the three days away, they develop great friendships and come away feeling connected to their class. Also, we schedule classes on Monday and Tuesday nights that include extracurricular activities. We try to capitalize on their drive time to school by scheduling outreach and small groups before or after class twice a month. So a typical Monday for student living in North Atlanta could look like he or she leaving for school at 1pm to go to outreach at 3pm, small group at 5pm, class at 6pm, and then leaves to go home at 9:45pm. Again, we schedule things back to back so that students are able to get the most out of their time at BASSM.
It is truly a privilege and inspiration to work with students who are pursuing revivalist lifestyles with such intentionality. School provides an incubator for them to take risks and grow in their identity in Christ. Their lives are changed as they build relationships centered around God’s presence and goodness, creating a legacy and inheritance to share with others.
Supernatural Breakthrough for Family
Our vision to see people thrive in life is being realized in multiple areas. More recently, we have seen powerful breakthrough in pregnancies for couples within our community that have struggled to start their own families. A couple of years ago, Paul Manwaring, a member of the Bethel Church senior leadership team, was visiting our campus while one of our staff members was dedicating his baby. It was a huge victory because he and his wife had experienced a few miscarriages before the birth of their child.
After the baby dedication, Paul shared that it was not okay for people not to get pregnant who want to get pregnant. The testimony of this baby’s birth needed to be imparted to others! We invited couples to the front that were trying to start their families and prayed for them. About a year later, we had a baby boom and we’ve been dedicating babies ever since. We still have people in our church who want to get pregnant and continue to contend for healthy, happy babies and great pregnancies. It’s part of our journey of cultivating family.