Our vision at NMC is to Be Missed. We aim to engage with everyone both in and outside of our circles in a way that if NMC ceased to exist, we (not the building but the body of Christ) would be missed. One of our specific prayers over the years has been for God to open doors to NMC so that we could Be Missed in our local public schools. We know by ministering to teachers and students in local schools, we can make a large impact as we share God's love and disciple the Next Generation. God has been so faithful to answer this prayer and has given us many opportunities over the last 25 years. Rebecca Ross, our current Curriculum Director who started out as our Children's Pastor, shared her experience over the years as she has helped lead NMC's ministries into local schools. Read along to hear Rebecca recount God's faithfulness over the years.
I am so excited that during this 25-year anniversary celebration, I get to share how God has opened countless doors for North Metro Church to be in public schools. The 25-year mark is not lost on me, because, honestly, this story of how NMC got to partner with public schools started about 25 years ago.
In 1997 (before they even had iPhones), I began working for the Cobb County School District (CCSD) as a teacher. My teaching certification allows me to work with students in kindergarten through 12th grade who have all different types of abilities. Getting to work with so many different grade levels was another part of this story.
I started out working at the high school level, but throughout my career, I would switch every few years between high school and elementary. I LOVED both grade levels for different reasons, and so just as I needed something more challenging, I would teach a different grade level. I had no idea that God was doing many things behind the scenes during my teaching career and that two schools I worked at would be instrumental in where NMC is today.
In 2004, my husband and I started attending North Metro Church. Fast forward to June 2013, and I was hired as the Children’s Pastor at NMC. It was a really hard decision to leave teaching because I was already doing full-time ministry working with my amazing students and incredible families.
Three months before I started my job at NMC, my friend, Autumn Sines, told me about Good News Club. When she told me I could start the club in a public school, I told her that there was no way that could be a real thing. After attending an informational meeting that summer, I learned about a Supreme Court ruling that allowed clubs from different religious backgrounds to hold after-school programs for those students whose parents gave signed permission. It was my hope that we could start the Good News Club in August 2013; however, the school year had already started, and I could not get my foot in the door to get a meeting. But God.
I remembered that one of the school secretaries that I used to work with at a local elementary school was a pastor’s wife. She didn’t get me the meeting, because, even better, she got the club approved! No one on staff with the Good News Club could believe it because that NEVER happened. But God.
In September 2013, we were up and running with three volunteers and 22 kids. We thanked the teachers for letting us have our club in some of their rooms by starting an annual breakfast for them. The Good News Club grew over the next several years to 80+ kids. Thanks to NMC’s generosity, a beautiful partnership with NMC and Hayes Elementary developed. Nathan Woodward, NMC’s Kids’ Pastor (and Hayes Elementary Volunteer of the Year in 2022), continues on with the investment.
Fast forward a few more years, and I got to be the Next Generation Pastor. I started working with Shift and Compass. The scene for student ministry in the church has changed over the years. We knew the students needed something different, but how to deliver it and what it was, we didn’t know. But God.
One day I looked up Kennesaw Mountain High School (KMHS) on the CCSD website because Hayes is a feeder school and it’s geographically close to NMC. Imagine my surprise when I realized the new principal and I taught math together at Wheeler High School almost 20 years ago. I got the meeting that same day … and then the world shut down 30 days later due to COVID-19. But God.
I got a call from the assistant principal, who asked if we could meet. There we were in the middle of Covid, meeting outside 6 feet apart, masked up; yet, NMC was handed the reins to be their partner for character ed. Due to the generosity of NMC, we were able to purchase the program, Habitudes, that KMHS requested. We started on Zoom with a pilot program of two-dozen students. This past year, we had 30+ mentors who go on campus monthly to facilitate the character education lessons. We are now serving 1,500 students. But God.
I got to serve on KMHS’s Principal Advisory Team for two years, and at their annual dance for special needs students. Our student pastor, Derek McClardy, a former NCAA Division 1 athlete, personally invests in the KMHS athletes through coaching and mentorship.
So, North Metro Church, how did we get here? It’s the number one question I get from other churches, “How in the world did you build such great relationships with public schools?” Yep, you already know the answer: But God, and He started it 25 years ago.
Rebecca sat down with Daniel Hicks, our Barrett Campus Pastor, to share more stories of God's kindness over the years. Listen to this podcast episode now anywhere you listen to podcasts.