Presenting the Bible in primary schools
Working with schools and churches
The aim of the Children's Team is for every child in Birmingham to hear what Christians believe about who Jesus is and what the Bible says about him. The team has four members: Kathryn, the team leader, Laura, Anna and Sarah. They have a love for Jesus and an enthusiasm to share the Bible with Birmingham's children. Their main focus is to work in primary schools across the city sharing Bible stories in assemblies (or Acts of Collective Worship), lessons and clubs. They also support churches in reaching out to children in their communities and local schools. They now work in over 100 schools including a number of schools for children with additional needs.
Working with schools
The Children’s Team works across the city in a wide variety of primary school settings. They deliver assemblies (or Acts of Collective Worship) and also offer occasional Christian RE lessons or school clubs. All material is delivered in an educational way and with full respect of the faith perspectives of those present. The children are excited to see the team and staff and students appreciate the work put into their presentations. After a Christmas assembly one teacher said:
'Thank you for taking the time to come and visit us and the children and spend the time working with them on such a special story. We have really appreciated the support as a staff as we feel the children benefit from experiences working with others and gaining from your knowledge and passion.'
Birmingham City Mission's Acts of Collective Worship take the form of a Bible story told educationally. All our stories work on the three-layered approach accepted by Birmingham SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) as an example of good practice.
Each story presented in one of our assemblies has a universal moral and a general theistic and faith-specific application. This format is demonstrated in the following example:
It is good to be generous, and God gives us every good thing. Christians believe that the most unselfish thing God has done is sending Jesus to make it possible for anyone who believes and trusts in him to be forgiven and be friends with God forever.
In most of our assemblies we have a giant easel we use to paint a picture of the story we are telling. From experience, children engage well with this visual storytelling method. Presentation methods can vary in schools that cater solely for children with additional needs. Assemblies are about 10-12 minutes long and conclude with an opportunity, in no way compulsory, to pray.
When arranging a visit, the Children's Team endeavours to fit in with the school's usual assembly day and time.
The team looks to offer occasional RE lessons to the schools we visit. These support the Birmingham Agreed syllabus and are delivered assuming there will be children from a Christian background, faith backgrounds other than Christian, and those whose families have no religious views. The children value the opportunity to ask questions to a committed Christian. As required, the team can deliver single lessons and a series of studies.
School clubs (offered either after school or during lunch) allow a smaller group of children to engage over an 8 to 10 week period. The clubs involve games, quizzes and a chance to share news and a Bible story. The chosen themes include universal applications such as fear, friendship, diversity, and inclusion.
As a team we visit several schools for children with Special Educational Needs to deliver both assemblies and lessons. We want all children to be able to discover the wonderful stories in the Bible so we look to adapt our programme to enable all children to engage with the themes being considered. We use more props and sensory methods such as smell or touch to help the story come to life. Where possible we use supportive signing and symbols (eg from Communicate in Print). We aim to work together with special schools to ensure that what we deliver is accessible to the children involved.
Kathryn, the team leader, took a year out after university and served with a church but had no desire to work with children. God had a very different idea and gave her a passion that the next generation should know the Lord for themselves. This passion has carried her through more than 17 years of children's ministry, including training at Oak Hill Theological College. After nine years at Birmingham City Mission she took over the role of Children's Team Co-ordinator in 2020, steering them through the changes that COVID brought while staying focused on the team's primary mission.
Laura joined the team after spending some time volunteering for BCM in different areas. She was Children's Minister at her church and trained in children's ministry as an intern at Scripture Union. Laura has a particular love for reaching out to those children with additional needs and has developed this area of our work. Laura has been working with children for many years and brings a wealth of experience from various settings.
Anna joined the Children's Team in September 2018. After qualifying as a teacher Anna took a gap year internship at a church. Her focus was on working with the children's ministry team and supporting children from the church and community. During that time Anna worked with children from pre-school to year 7. As a trained teacher Anna is passionate about delivering RE lessons to children in primary schools and is enrolled on a course run by Growing Young Disciples on Children's Youth and Family Ministry.
Sarah joined BCM in 2020. She is a qualified teacher and has taken a career break to raise her children. She has been involved with the children's ministry at her church for many years. She joined BCM after working alongside Children's Team members to deliver several holiday clubs for children from her community. Sarah has completed a year of the Midlands Ministry Training Course as part of her role. She has a fondness for storytelling and takes great joy in sharing what Christians believe with the children of Birmingham.