Church: Alliance Church, Lubbock
Pastor: Jesse Rincones
Initiative: Alliance Education Initiative
What is one thing your church has had success with in the local community?
We have been working to bring awareness to and address the educational challenges facing the Hispanic community, both inside and outside the church. This “one thing" is actually several different efforts that come under an umbrella that I call the Alliance Education Initiative.
Here are a few of facets that are part of this effort:
- May Education Emphasis - part of each Sunday in this month is dedicated to an education emphasis - from high school graduates, to teachers, to post-graduate degree earners. On one Sunday, to the applause of the congregation, every student in the church is recognized for their efforts during the school year.
- Education Summer Missionaries – each year we host a summer missionary as part of Texas Baptists' Hispanic Education Initiative program. Our students are given weekly studies and training on education, leadership and college preparedness.
- Back-2-School Backpack Bonanza – this backpack and school supplies give away is coupled with parent & student orientation on graduation success skills, praying for their student, teacher and school, free hair cuts and more.
- Nursery Graduation Celebration – including cap and gown, diplomas and certificates. The first time we did this, we had our largest attendance of the year and it was in August!
How did you recognize this need?
I served on the Hispanic Education Task Force established by Dr. Albert Reyes. The task force produced a report - "Abriendo Puertas: Opening Doors for Hispanic Youth" – that outlined the crucial need for Hispanic congregations to address the burgeoning drop-out rate for Hispanic students.
Who is it reaching?
It is reaching both Hispanic and non-Hispanic students and their families.
How is it impacting the community and strengthening your church?
Outside of the classroom - and from someone other than their school teachers - students are hearing about the importance of success in education. Parents are reminded of their role in their children's success in school and how basic practices can help their students succeed. The church is strengthened by the constant reminder to obey the great commandment of “love the Lord our God with … all your mind." This year we saw the largest graduation class our church has ever seen. I believe that a church that values learning today, will be strengthened tomorrow.
What did you start out trying to do, and what if anything changed?
What we are currently doing in the area of education started with a basic graduate recognition Sunday and evolved from there. We added other stakeholders to the events. We took other activities that we were already doing and modified them to be a part of a coherent and comprehensive effort.
How does your solution work?
Our approach starts with a Biblical command: “love the Lord…with all your mind." That command gives us a foundation for seeing the spiritual perspective of education in the church and community. Our efforts involve the church, students, their families and the community
What steps did you take to start it, or how could someone start doing a similar ministry?
First, start where you are with what you have. If you are already celebrating a graduation banquet or have a Sunday recognition, build on that. Second, look at your calendar and examine your events and see how a modification might serve to tie your efforts together to multiply your impact. Finally, don't overlook the resources that are available online, especially those from Texas Baptists.
What did you learn that you'd like to share with others who may try to start something similar?
I learned that you don't need a lot, you just need to start. Early on, we only had a Sunday morning to use. We were faithful with that, then added a small scholarship for every student. Then a summer missionary. Then a banquet event, and so on. If you wait until you have what the “other churches" have, you'll never get started.