It is good to review the role you are playing on a fairly regular basis and in recent days that is what I have been doing. Using what I call the ‘What, Why, Where, How and When question’, I have been looking, in particular, at my role within schools.
What are you doing? In October 2014, when I started my current role, ‘Open the Book’ was established in the community schools but I was asked to try and establish even stronger links. It has been a joy to establish the Easter and Harvest experiences in to the annual timetables of all the schools. However, it is the impact of reading biblical stories to the preschool children that has given me the greatest pleasure. The children have got to know me well and ask me questions and tell me what is happening in their lives. This is something that did not seem achievable three or four years ago.
Why is it important to you and the church? It is sad that wherever I go and whoever I talk to, I hear the same story. We do not have as many young people in our church as we did a few years ago. I am sure you can think of many reasons for this and without doubt most have nothing to do with what happens in church, so we need to tell children about God and Jesus by going to where they are which is why ‘Open the book’ is such a brilliant programme. As a children’s worker, to be seen as a regular contributor to the education of the children is a privilege but also a great responsibility. For some children they may not hear the stories from the Bible from any other source and, even though they willlearn about Christianity along with other faiths, it is not the same as listening to stories regularly as many of us did at Sunday School.
Where and when do I do school’s work? ‘Open the Book’ is in the three community schools and the Harvest and Easter experiences welcome all the schools, too, but my focus, as one of the ‘Open the Book’ Leaders is Bexton, where I have built up a rapport with the staff and children alike. During the Autumn and Spring terms the ‘Open the Book’ teams visit each school fortnightly and, this year, for the first time, I am in Bexton throughout the summer term telling more stories with Christian/British values. Also, each Monday morning, I am in the Bexton nursery telling the children Biblical stories.
How do you know it is having an impact? Rob has shared how ‘Open the Book’ has impacted on one youngster’s life when he told his grandmother that he loved Jesus but there are other ways of measuring impact. The children who wave and smile at you as they point you out to parents, the welcome and encouragement of school staff when you attend events and the engagement the children have with you at different times of the week. We may not have as many opportunities to interact with the children of our town but please do support me and all the people who are part of my missional team in the work we have been called to do.
Peter Freeman, Children and Families Worker