Ideally when it comes to schools’ ministry, your congregation will want to think towards a long-term investment.
The sole aim is not to populate the youth and children’s organisations within the congregation. It has got to be a bigger vision than that. The aim needs to be to impact the local community through its local schools, and to see children and young people encounter the living God through a relationship with the members of the local church. Our mission is to go into all the world and make disciples. Therefore we have to go and not simply expect them to come!
So, here are some ideas of how to invest long term in the local schools and have an impact beyond what we can imagine.
1. Scripture Union E3 workers (Northern Ireland only)
The E3 Schools Project is a model for delivering schools’ ministry at localised level by dividing Northern Ireland into districts and employing schools workers in each area. Backed up by local volunteers and support teams, and working alongside local churches, E3 describes the three main aims:
- Engaging pupils with the opportunities and resources that may lead them to encountering Jesus through His word, praying that they can make an informed decision about Jesus and His truth.
- Equipping Christian teachers and pupils by giving them support and encouragement to facilitate growth in Christian maturity and to encourage them to be salt and light in their schools.
- Empowering churches to actively pray, support and get involved in schools’ ministry by partnering with the E3 Schools Project.
All E3 Projects should be completely financed from donations by local churches, groups and individuals. At the minute E3 is operational in seven areas across Northern Ireland – east Belfast, north Down and Ards, Antrim and Lisburn, east Antrim, Ballymena, North Coast, Fermanagh and Fivemiletown. The ultimate aim is to have every area of Northern Ireland serviced by an E3 worker.
2. Teaching lessons
It’s your move: A set of three lessons designed to help P7/6th class pupils as they prepare to move to post-primary/national schools. As well as offering lots of practical advice to help them settle in well and make the most of the time they will have there, the lessons also provide an opportunity for pupils to consider the teaching of the Bible and its relevance to the issues they will face at this crucial stage in their lives.
Amazing Jesus lessons: A set of three lessons for KS2/senior class pupils, helping them to explore some of the miracles that Jesus performed and to discover what we can learn about Jesus from them.
There are also other primary lesson opportunities, post-primary lessons and also involvement in teaching in special schools.
3. Bible timeline assemblies
A series of assemblies designed to take primary/national school children through the Bible. Scripture Union is in the process of developing a series of 72 assemblies designed to take children through the Bible in the course of three years. As well as giving an overview of the Bible story, the assemblies provide an opportunity for children to explore key Christian beliefs and their application to life today. The assemblies are free to download and may be used by teachers, ministers and others who lead assemblies regularly in primary/national schools.
Find the current completed Bible timeline assemblies at: suni.co.uk/schools/bibletimeline
4. Empowering Churches in Schools’ Ministry
This is a new workshop written and delivered by Scripture Union Northern Ireland. Its aim is to help churches think more deeply about how they can serve, support and share God’s Good News in schools. The workshop will include training on contextual issues and practical ideas for churches to think about what is appropriate and helpful for them as they seek to connect more with schools in their community.
5. Prayer Spaces in Schools
Prayer Spaces in Schools enables children and young people, of all faiths and none, to explore life questions, spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way. Taking a broadly Christian perspective as a starting point, prayer spaces give children and young people an opportunity to develop skills of personal reflection and to explore prayer in an open, inclusive and safe environment.
Prayer Spaces in Schools has discovered that there are nine steps that nearly always have to happen when planning a prayer space in school:
1. Getting started
2. Serving the school community
3. Choosing a room
4. Choosing the prayer activities
5. Recruiting and training a team
6. Registering your prayer space
7. Publicity and preparation
8. Running your prayer space
9. What next?
Week-long prayer spaces often provoke conversations about something more permanent. For example, here are a few quotes from recent stories:
- “Some staff have now begun to think about the lasting effect that a permanent prayer space within the school or school grounds might have, despite our lack of space indoors. When you see something that can help bring such peace and calm, it is hard to ignore it, isn‘t it?”
- “We are continuing to work with the school to develop a permanent space/room.”
- “The teachers said that a space like this should be provided more often and even that their students had been returning to class more peaceful.”
All over the UK, having experienced the positive impact that a week-long prayer space has on spiritual and pastoral life of their whole community, schools and churches are increasingly working together in a number of ways, including after-school cafés, lunchtime groups, mentoring programmes, chaplaincy teams, regular or even permanent prayer spaces, bereavement support, workshop series, or classroom assistance.
Local contact in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland:
Facebook: Prayer Spaces in Schools Ireland