Our year-long course in children’s ministry drew to a close last week with our final session where we all share what we have gained from the course and the influence it has had over the way we work; and then we all hotfoot it down the pub. There were some really interesting insights and ideas that had come from people applying the ideas from the course into their own local context. Here were my highlights – from the session not the pub!
The role of a children’s worker is really, really important
The life of a children’s worker whether paid or voluntary can feel pretty insignificant and isolated; happening as it does often out of the view of the adult congregation and the regular meeting up with other children’s workers was really beneficial to all. The material also inspired the delegates about the importance of what they do and armed them with wealth of new ideas to try in their groups, challenging the sense of staleness that it’s easy to feel when faced with the weekly challenge to preparing for sessions with children.
You’re not a teacher
Almost all children’s workers will at some point wondered why they bother. If you spent long enough following the usual pattern of: tell the children the theme, then the story, then ask some questions to see if they listened to the story and then do a craft either about the theme of the story before then abandoning it because the children are due back in the adult service, you will in the end ask why you’re doing this, what actual difference are you making to the lives of the children you work with? This is a fabulous question to ask because it opens you up to a world of possibilities.
One of the key emphases of the course is to look at how we work in a way that nurtures faith not that merely informs the mind and makes a real difference to their lives as Christians. It was great to hear stories of how those on the course had used more reflective practice with the children and been really impressed with the results or allowed children more time to explore Bible stories themselves without feeling the need to give them all the answers. By doing this you begin to give the children a toolkit to support their own faith.
Nick Harding stole the show
Early in the course we had Nick Harding join us as a guest speaker to unpack some of the issues around the lack of boys in many of our children’s groups. He was really insightful looking at how we could help to address this by making our sessions more boy friendly by using shorter bursts of activity and looking at alternatives to a weekly craft.
I won’t go over all that Nick said in great depth as I’ve already written about it here so all I need add is that everyone on the course really appreciated it and found that Nick’s suggestions really worked.
Training really helps
This doesn’t sound like the most insightful thing I’ve ever said but go with me on this! Everyone on the course said that they hadn’t realised how much they would gain by committing to regular training and that they would all be coming to more or even for some going on to Cliff College to do a Diploma in Children’s Mission and Ministry.
If all this has inspired you then you’ll be pleased to know that last month we launched the new and improved Children’s Ministry Academy course. The course has been further developed and now comes with an accreditation from OASIS College and has been improved to ensure it really is the best course we can offer for children’s workers.
It runs for nine sessions through the academic year for Children’s Workers on a Wednesday evening at Diocesan House. It will develop you as a Children’s Worker and broaden your knowledge of key issues in Children’s Ministry. There is a charge of £100 for the year which for a course of this nature is actually low and bursaries are available through Sam Donoghue. You can find out more about the course by downloading the brochure here. And the application form can be downloaded here.