By Hayley Beckett on 26th August 2023
The new school year starts during the week beginning Sunday 3rd September. We have put together some simple ideas you can use to mark this in your churches.
Children and young people will return to, or even head into new pre schools, schools and colleges with a variety and mix of emotions that range from terrified to excited. Teachers and other school staff will be beginning the new year at a time when many of them feel under pressure and under resourced. This is a time when the church should be praying, engaging and encouraging.
Before we can pray or aim to support effectively, we need to hear from those people. You could invite people to share from the front or go around the congregation with a microphone. In your church this may be better structured with some people being asked in advance to say something either in the service or in a rpe recorded video.
You could also hear from people in non verbal ways eg each young person given 3 post it notes on which they write 3 different things about how they are feeling. These can be stuck on a board as people sing and then grouped up into dominant themes.
Having heard, let it sink in. This could be in silence or while a song or music is played.
Ask God to guide you as you come to prayer and action.
Remind people that there is one person we haven’t mentioned yet. God is with us in every situation and circumstance.
‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’ Deuteronomy 31.8. (We have included an image below that you can use when sharing this verse).
Moses spoke these words to the Jews before Joshua then led them into a new land. They knew something of what lay ahead, but until they arrived and experienced it, they would have had a variety and mix of emotions that range from terrified to excited.
We have included some ideas for an all age talk or activity around this theme below.
Pray around what you have heard from people. Pray for people starting new places of education. Thank God that he will be with us.
Make clear what dates the various schools ae starting back and encourage people to pray for people on those days.
Ask people to consider how they can respond.
Could we contact someone later this week to ask how their day had been (remind people to contact parents first rather than children directly)
Could we take a gift to your local school from the church? Perhaps a card signed by everyone and some chocolates. How else could you encourage your local school?
Could people volunteer directly? Are there schemes where people can volunteer to read with children or to be trained to mentor? (Remind people to access the appropriate support, training and vetting before pursuing this).
Could you plan to offer your local school a prayer space? (Prayer spaces enable children and young people, of all faiths and none, to explore life’s questions, spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way). There may be local organisations who could help you provide this.
Game: Set up a game of chase. someone has to run around the church and someone else has to catch them (You could play You will never run away by rend Collective while this happens). Remind people that God is with us always, even when we feel alone.
Interview: Ask people to share stories of when they did something new and how they knew God was with them.
Video clip about seeking God’s perspective: Watch this short video, which is just over a minute long here.
Video clip winnie the Pooh: This conversation has a lot to say about being together and could work well in a context with a lot of younger children. Watch the video here.
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