The start of the school year is a milestone for any child, with all of the excitement about classes, friends, and all the newness that’s ahead. It would be wonderful for churches and ministries to find ways to send students into their school years with blessing and encouragement as they learn about who God has created them to be. Pastor Dave Hall, who is serving at Mt. Hope Lutheran Church in Boulder, CO, has suggested celebrating this checkpoint for children by holding an annual “Blessing of the Backpacks” during a church service at the start of the school year.
In the “Blessing of the Backpacks,” children of any age are encouraged to bring their backpacks for the year to church, and during service, the congregation will be invited to say a prayer of blessing and encouragement over the students and their backpacks, while the students receive a tag to put on the backpacks with a Bible verse or reminder of the love Christ has for them.
The goal for an event like this would be “to find a way to empower children and educators to share their faith and receive a blessings to kickoff the school year,” says Pastor Hall. The tags with Scripture that the students receive to put on their backpacks can be wonderful conversation starters for students with their peers at school, giving them support in sharing their faith. With three to four weeks of heads up and adequate planning and publicizing, your church, ministry, or school could try something similar!
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The children in our communities carry around those heavy backpacks for a whole year. Why not take an opportunity to celebrate the milestone of a new school year by praying over our kids and their backpacks so they go into their school year feeling encouraged and excited, rather than seeing the year as something scary or as a burden? Pastor Hall and his communities have found the “Blessing of the Backpacks” to be a helpful way to pray for kids each year to start the school year, and empower them to share their faith. Contact Pastor Dave Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the process or how something like this could be implemented in your community,