Editor’s Note: The assemblies at Grantham and Mansfield, like many others, found difficulties in maintaining a once thriving children’s work. As numbers declined, the work needed reappraising to see what might be done to reach the young with the gospel. These two articles are intended to give impetus to those who want to recommence or rebuild an assembly children’s work.
The assembly in Mansfield had a children’s work and had seen much blessing over many years through these activities. However, this work had declined and, eventually, had ceased.
After a period of about two years there was an exercise amongst the saints to restart this outreach and seek to present the Lord to both the children of believers in the assembly and to those living in the locality.
Before we Began
The lead up to the recommencement of the work took approximately six months and it was a frequent topic of prayer during this period. Indeed, in the weeks leading up to the commencement, the assembly held ‘special’ Saturday morning prayer meetings making the children’s work the particular focus of prayer. It was a real encouragement and blessing to see saints who knew ‘working with children’ was not their specific area of gift, still keen to gather and support through prayer. Indeed, at Mansfield and in any other assembly, it is important that the work is seen as an ‘assembly activity’, not just the work of a few.
In the time before the activities with the children began other practical issues were addressed. A wide range of resources were prepared and a child protection policy was developed. In relation to child protection issues the help of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, CCPAS, was invaluable. They run a number of very useful ‘courses’, supply a draft child protection policy (which gave an excellent starting point for the writing of our own policy), administer the acquisition of Criminal Records Bureau, CRB, checks and provide a constant source of information and, if necessary, advice. Invites were also delivered to all of the local homes and the headteacher of a school very near the Hall also agreed to take several hundred invites and distribute them to pupils.
As a launch for the new weekly children’s work we held a ‘Holiday Bible Club’. In all invites that we send out we ensure it is clear that parents are most welcome to come with their children and during the Holiday Bible Club week both parents and children attended. In the lead up to this week, as a result of a lack of faith, I had two conflicting worries: either that very few children would come, or that we would be overrun with more than we could cope with! A sister from another assembly wisely pointed out that the Lord would send us just the right number and throughout the week we were full, but could manage.
What do we do?
There is nothing particularly ‘different’ about the activities we do. We sing choruses, teach the children Bible verses and work systematically through Bible stories. We have a quiz each week and, on occasions, have ‘special’ craft activities.
We make quite extensive use of ‘modern technology’ with all of our choruses, one or two quizzes and sometimes graphics to support the telling of the Bible story being displayed via PowerPoint and a data projector. To source images to use in these resources we found image bank websites such as ‘shutterstock.com’ to be extremely valuable and, being based in the United States, this site has a good number of ‘Christian’ images.
We always send children home with a colouring related to the Bible story of that week to complete and return. This acts as a reminder of the Bible story as well as an incentive to return. The colouring always has an appropriate Bible verse printed on it and so also acts as a way of getting the word of God into the children’s homes. The colourings themselves can be found by doing an ‘Image Search’ on Google. Type in a few key words and the word ‘colouring’ (e.g., David Goliath colouring) and click ‘search’ and you will invariably manage to find an appropriate black and white image for the children to colour.
During the children’s work each week we benefit from the support of fellow saints who, whilst they do not feel it is their role to lead publicly, they faithfully attend and give invaluable support by setting up equipment, recording ‘points’ when children answer questions, keeping score in the quiz, handing out sweets, supporting the singing, taking a register and many other activities. In a work with children I would suggest that this support is vital.