- Commit to serving the educational needs of the schools with which you want to work. Put these needs ahead of any evangelistic aims of your church. Often you will find these are not mutually exclusive. But when they are, always put education first – it’s the basis of your invitation from the school, so respect that.
- Before you start to think about any sessions – understand the school’s needs, issues, and aspirations. Work with the school’s RE coordinator to understand their local RE syllabus and how it is delivered in the school. Get an overview of how they expect children’s knowledge of Christianity to develop throughout their time at the school – and how they measure progress.
- Focus on areas of the syllabus where learning about Christianity will have the biggest impact and where locating this learning in a place of worship would help most. It may be a difficult topic such as heaven and hell. It may be something simpler about how symbols are used in places and acts of worship. It may be something seasonal.
- Use the skills of those already working with children in church and teachers in your congregations to plan sessions that respond to syllabus topics. Get them to think about what aspects of the topic are important to them as Christians. What are the important and interesting facts? How does practice follow from belief? Then get them to think about how best to communicate this and to enable the children to explore the topic further and to remember what they’ve learnt.
- Make use of different approaches to learning within sessions – remembering that some children learn best by seeing, others by hearing, others by doing. Don’t over pack your session though – leave plenty of time for conversations with children as they complete tasks in small groups, and for questions at the end.
- Document your session in some detail and refine your ideas with the school. This helps you to be confident you are delivering something the school will be pleased with. The document is also a means to ensure all of your team know what is expected of them, and ensures your brilliant ideas can be reused. See our Session Plans (link to Session Plans).
- Start small – but think long term. Whatever you agree to do with schools, do it well, with the best materials you can afford and with passion – even if you think there’s something better or more you could be doing. Be ready to respond with ideas to help pupils progressively explore the Christian faith by building on what you’ve already done.
- Be willing to work with other churches in the area. It’s not about recruiting from one particular church. Nor is it about presenting one particular denomination’s beliefs to the exclusion of others. RE does not recognise any denomination, or indeed faith, as having a monopoly on religious truth. We are not saying you need to present the lowest common denominator. Let your church’s expression of faith stand alongside those of others who profess faith in Jesus Christ. This is not saying that all beliefs are equally valid – it’s recognising that there are things that divide us and being honest about them and willing to discuss these differences with children who might not otherwise find out about them. Experiencing such diversity greatly enriches the sessions. It raises questions that the curious will want to explore.
- Draw on the skills and willingness of all in your churches who are comfortable being with children. OK, you need some Christians who are spiritually mature and confident speakers. But you’ll find new Christians may bring added enthusiasm for their newly found faith. Even those less confident can play a role, maybe in preparing materials, keeping time, or serving refreshments. But most of our volunteers have found the confidence to help in leading a small group of 6-10 children.
- Deliver sessions to whole year groups in church if possible. The surroundings of a church enrich the session; the space is often more practical; and the visit makes the session special. Working with a whole year group may make better use of your time than trying to repeat the session for each class.
- Stay honest. When you make mistakes be ready to admit to them. But more than that, actively seek feedback from teachers, children and your team.
- Celebrate your success. Where the school will allow, take photos or videos that can be shown to your supporters in churches and to other schools in the area. Seeing is believing.
We hope that makes it sound “do-able”. Whether you are itching to get started or still not sure, we will be pleased to talk to you about how it works in practice; to have you come and see for yourself; to come and help you get started.
Contact us :: 0118 966 3929 firstname.lastname@example.org