Creating a strong, healthy community is vital to any school. When you have students that do not attend church together or might live far away from each other, cultivating a time of connection is necessary to empower your students to step out in vulnerability, processing life, and taking risk with Holy Spirit. This is the story of Adrianna’s first year at the the School of Supernatural Life in Santa Maria, CA.
Adrianna is a staff member at BSSM School Planting. She had the unique opportunity to not only attend a school of supernatural ministry on the Central Coast of California, but also completed all three years at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding. During her year at the Healing Rooms School of Supernatural Life, Adrianna learned the value of having a consistent time set aside where students could gather, be vulnerable with each other, and share their journey of growth.
Our prayer is that you will find Adrianna’s experience useful in creating meaningful connection times with your students, increasing the value of community, and teaching your students the importance of going far together.
The Value of “Family Time”
My class at the small school of supernatural ministry on the Central Coast of California was made up of approximately 20 students, ranging in ages from 19 to 65. We met every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6-9pm. Our school was ran by the Healing Rooms ministry, but we hosted students from multiple churches as far as two hours away in all directions.
Since one student could live three to four hours from another student, we discovered the importance of “family time” halfway through the year as an important means of connection with each other. What started as a once a month gathering turned into an event every other week. As we gathered in a circle, we would share our thoughts, feelings, and processes with one another. It was a time to be vulnerable.
Family time became the most loved times out of the entire school year
We were able to connect with each other beyond watching BSSM video curriculum as a group or the short fifteen minutes of conversation we shared before and after class. It was a time to check in with our peers, share what we were processing, and rally around each other. We intentionally walked through family tragedy together, celebrated marriages, and share different aspects of our lives.
Most students are already busy, and attending school can seem like they are adding another thing to their plate. They often don’t know how to do intentional community, which is where family time comes into play! Family time is the perfect opportunity to teach students how to be vulnerable and take risks in a safe environment. If it is not thought out, family time can become a little awkward. To help you develop connection in your school environment, here are three tips to help you facilitate family time (and to stop the crickets):
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Vulnerable with Your Students
As school leaders, our students look to us to set the standard of how to do life. I have seen this displayed numerous times while attending BSSM. During my third year,I sat in on a Revival Group (a type of connection group) meeting at BSSM. The Revival Group pastor offered to do something big and personal for one of her students, then got embarrassed.
The pastor got out of her seat, walked across the room, and was about to leave. Instead, she turned around, walked back to her seat, and said to her group, “I don’t know why, but I just got really embarrassed.” I could feel the trust in her students’ hearts grow for her because of her vulnerability.
Vulnerability doesn’t mean we let our students know every detail of every struggle we’re going through. It means we let our students know we’re human, and here’s how we’re currently dealing with the situation. Vulnerability means we give our students hope in a God that is accessible to them, killing the belief that God only speaks to leaders on stage.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks In Front of Your Students
It is difficult to lead students to places we have never been ourselves. It is even more difficult to lead students in places we are not willing to go. Don’t be afraid of taking risks! We have to be willing to show our students we can take risks in uncomfortable situations.
If the prophetic is not your strong suit, I encourage you to step out and prophesy over individuals you encounter day-to-day. If evangelism scares you, lead your students in practicing evangelism; be the first to volunteer to initiate a conversation with a stranger.
Risk is a big part of vulnerability
If we can show our students we are willing to take risks, they are more likely to follow in our footsteps and lead a life of risk themselves. Family time creates a safe place for students to take that risk, building up their resistance to fear, rejection, and shame. The more a student gets a prophetic word wrong, or calls out a word of knowledge without a response, or generally “misses the mark,” the easier it is for them to step out in their everyday lives.
Don’t Be Afraid to Let Holy Spirit Take over
It is always good to have a plan, but it is always better to lead with the Holy Spirit. God can be found in structure as much as He can be found when Holy Spirit breaks out and it seems like we have lost control. During one particular Revival Group meeting, we had a plan for the day. However, our pastor felt the Holy Spirit was leading us to do a fire tunnel and pray for the students. We had a plan, but we listened to Holy Spirit and were willing to move with Him. That day students who had never encountered the Holy Spirit before were touched by Him in ways they still remember.
Learn to lead every meeting with one ear turned toward the Holy Spirit, being sensitive to His voice and direction. He will never let you down! God is always saying something, He’s always giving us something, He’s always doing something. He craves connection amongst us as much as we do, and family time is the perfect time to create that space for Him to move.
Tips and Ideas for Family Time
- Have a planned, set time for connection that students can look forward to every week. Come prepared with a plan, but always be willing to let Holy Spirit take over.
- Gather everyone together closely, perhaps in a circle, giving everyone the opportunity to see each other and connect.
- If you have a larger school, split your family time into smaller groups to provide opportunities for students to get to know one another more intimately.
- Ask icebreaker questions at the beginning of the year so students can learn about each other’s’ experiences, strengths, gifts, and more. .
- Encourage the students to share their growth process.
- Discuss a book you are reading.
- Invite students to ask questions.
- Prophecy over each other.
- Practice evangelism by having students share the gospel with each other.
- Have students preach a message.
- Let your students lead family time after they have discovered the purpose of this time of connection and have established trust with your team.
Family time creates a space where vulnerability, risk, and faith can all safely come alive in the students. It fosters a true sense of community and connection, making sure that no one is left behind. If you don’t have a set time where your students can gather and have a time of connection, I encourage you to try it out and see how much stronger your school community becomes!