When it comes to “making disciples,” the early years are so significant! The messages children receive from the individual Christians around them matter. A lot! So how will you leverage the beginning of a new school year to remind the kids you care about that Jesus will guide, love, protect, and forgive them in the months ahead?
More and more churches each fall are setting aside a Sunday in August or early September to “bless the backpacks.” Here are some ways to do it:
1. Have children in grades K-6 or K-8 or K-12 bring their backpacks to church with them on the Sunday before school begins in your community. During the children’s message, invite the youngsters in attendance to come forward with their backpacks for a special blessing. (Think about inviting all teachers to come forward, too!) Pray a prayer like this:
Lord Jesus, as our children (and teachers) being a new school year, bless them. Fill them with excitement as they think about all the adventures you have in store for them. Keep them safe. Guide their learning. Help them be examples of your love for everyone they meet day by day. Help them always remember they belong to you. Amen.
After the prayer, give each child a small gift to attach to their backpacks. CTA’s What a Friend ID Tag would be a good choice. Or consider giving each child two or three themed pencils—Raise the Praise or God’s Promises would both be great choices.
2. Host a prayer vigil for all the children and youth in your church a week or two before school begins. (Consider including students who will be attending college, too, whether in your community or away from home.) Post the names of all the students in your church’s prayer room or distribute copies to prayer warriors as they arrive. Invite parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, youth workers, and others who have demonstrated concern for your congregation’s children to come to pray one or more times during the week.
3. Involve parents in the backpack blessing event. Have them accompany their children to the front of the church during the service. Then use a responsive prayer like the one below. Invite students, parents, and the congregation to speak the words in bold type. Then give each child a small gift as a reminder of Jesus’ presence and power.
Prayer leader: We thank you, Lord Jesus, for the children and young people in our church.
Response: Thank you, Lord Jesus!
Prayer leader: As school begins, please bless all of them with your wisdom and strength.
Response: Bless them, Lord Jesus.
Prayer leader: Help them show your love to their teachers and classmates.
Response: Help them, Lord Jesus.
Prayer leader: Keep them safe and healthy.
Response: Protect them, Lord Jesus.
Prayer leader: Guide them as they learn many helpful skills.
Response: Guide them, Lord Jesus.
Prayer leader: May their lives always honor you.
Response: Thank you, Lord Jesus.
Editor’s note: CTA carries many items appropriate for use in your church’s backpack blessing event. If you would like more ideas or if you’re ready to place an order, just visit our website or call 1-888-285-3598.