Two variations on an example outline of a schools worship event
I promised a write up of the work I did in a school the other day to those on facebook after all their support. In the end, I have written a longer piece about my approach to schools worship events.
However, a short post will hopefully put some practicality on the bones.
I was asked to be part of a carousel of activities for a school during their transition day. That is, each class had a taster of their new class. The teachers were doing some other stuff…and so on. The school had sports people, and I think something else in (I didn’t really dig around all that much to find out!).
The groups were broken down into yrs 5-6: 3-4: year 1 and 2. And below (UK…early year foundation stage, or EYFS)
Each group needed a bit of a different approach, but essentially for the two older groups – Juniors we called them years ago, we now call them keystage 2, I had 1 hour and 15 minutes. For the younger groups an hour.
The school had given me the choice to do anything I wanted with the children. So magic, or art or…well whatever. But with up to 80 children in each group, to just do pure entertainment for more than an hour could be really hard.
I realised that the best thing I could do with them would be to lead one of my worship events for an hour. It wouldn’t be quite as much as I would do with a whole school, but something simple I could adapt slightly to each group and repeat four times
I asked the facebook group, Christians leading collective worship if they had any ideas of things to do. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything, I was just drawing a blank and needed somewhere to go from! In the end it was their suggestions plus a subsequent thread I commented on which gave me the ideas of what to do which I put into my usual framework for Children’s worship events.
Older years schools worship event example outline
Ks 2 1 hour 15 min
Kids arrive – encourage them to find space around them
Celebrate good times DJ song….aerobics kind of jumps and steps.
Straight mix into run this race or will you get a bit funky (Doug Horley)…which I knew they didn’t know
End song abruptly…obviously I will have to teach them the full dance (I knew this already)
From the front, teach one line at a time and build on it. NO need for backing: I can sing
Perform song together
Game – musical newspapers. Kids are involved right to the end then suddenly loads out at once. Theme point – holding on to one another and supporting one another since they have to hold one another onto the newspaper
Story plus escapology: Peters miraculous escape. Part 1: show the equipment. Part 2: Describe Peters predicament and those praying for him Part 3: Leave the story in tension and perform escapology routine part 4: Tell the story of peters own escape right through to where he is reunited with friends
Make the point: People told people the gospel to us and Peter supported by friends in prayer (child friendly explanation please…just summarising here)
Younger years adaption
KS1 – 1 hour
Almost the same but…
Instead used shorter story (less build up to the escape. I use a bag I escape from and cuffs in the earlier part of the day, but in KS2 just the cuffs, and explain how Peter was locked up in chains much thicker and so on.) then…
Long wall paper with children around each side and pens. Played some quieter music while they drew whatever they felt related to the story…so figurative from the story, or maybe something that struck them, or a prayer for themselves. Some fantastic stuff came out.
So how did it go?
The only one I struggled with really was the older one. It wasn’t the music or the spiritual content at all, but rather the escapology.
I usually have people check my chains and bag to show that there is nothing dodgy about them, and that they are real and no secrets in them. Since they are made of solid metal which is really tough, it’s pretty obvious that it is all genuine.
But the lad who I asked to check the chains claimed they were fake. He was just trying to be clever, but no matter what I did some of the kids decided it wasn’t for real.
I’ve seen this happen once before, and it was that which led to my creating a backing track on a cd of instructions which said everything was for real. Yes, if an adult says something is genuine children may dispute it, but if a voice on recorded media says it it must be true. That probably deserves some reflection on the state of our society…!
Anyway, it weakened what I was doing somewhat. It only happens occasionally, but it means the final escape isn’t quite so cool. Of course the funny part is that they still couldn’t work it out and so were hassling me later! Which gave me a chance to show them something there is no reasoning out at all. Kudos value restored? Possibly. What I wanted though with this little bit of end showmanship was to stop them remembering ‘guy who got out of fake handcuffs’ to ‘guy who did some magic and told us about a man who escaped miraculously from prison.’ I think I got there with most of them. Thank you Lord!
Note to self though: with adults, get them to check. With those who are under 10, get them to check. The rest. Make the claim and get on with it, possibly giving an example or asking the teacher to check!!!
What I really want to feed back however is that there was a moment in a couple of the sessions when you could really sense God’s presence.
This is rather key for me. I have led children’s worship for years. And when I entered into the world or wearing a dog collar I had people telling me that I effectively needed to hang up my children’s minister roll. After all, aren’t I a minister to everyone?
I wrestled with this for a very long time, and yes to some extent I do minister now to a much wider age. But I know who I really relate to. I also know what fruit I see. I know that when other adult Christians see me leading children in worship they tell me something special is happening.
Over the last few months I have moved from mixing fresh expressions of church and traditional ministry to fresh expressions of church and being an artist, so as to move towards where God is calling us as a family. The final stage will be to be a few hours a week leading the church but sharing that with others, and my ministry amongst children leading them in worship as a source of mission. Yes…worship events as mission. And the art tops up the coin pot. The business will grow. The other areas of the business will grow and as time goes on I hope to see churches planted which will have a focus on teaching the next generation – each adult will see that as their purpose. Believe it or not the churches that do this I have seen flourish.
I have been asked if I will return to the school and lead more worship, but for the whole school. Next time. Another school is also asking after me now, and there is a third school who saw a flavour of what I do last year as I was thinking all this through and redeveloping my vision. This isn’t simply assemblies, as I mentioned on the linked page, I do lots of those. What I saw last Friday felt right…it’s time to lead the children in the dance.