Friday, May 11, 2012

Children’s ministry blessings

Yesterday I went to the biggest Christian Resources Exhibition in Britain. Hundreds of Christian organisations had stalls promoting their mission and products and 20 workshops were on offer as well as seminars promoting the focus of the day. Yesterday’s theme was “Family Day.” I participated in workshops addressing faith in homes, how to respond to the exodus of youth in our churches, raising young leaders and a most enlightening interview with Rev Paul Langham who has paraphrased the bible and published it through the Bible Society as “Who?” He has written it “so those who will never engage with the bible can hear the story of Jesus and the early Christians”. I look forward to reading it with my son Blake.

The most inspiring conversation of the day was with Diane Brookes, national coordinator of an initiative called “Open the Book” that equips teams of church volunteers to tell bible stories weekly in primary school assemblies. The programme was started in Bradford in 2001 and launched nationally in 2007. There are now 6,332 volunteers going into 1,212 schools and reaching 210 000 children weekly.

“Open the Book is replanting the gospel stories in our culture at a time when they are in danger of melting away” says Rt. Revd. John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, as he commended the volunteers on their work.

Open the Book has other benefits too. Barbara Meardon, Children's Work Adviser for the Diocese of Salisbury says: “Not only does Open the Book enable children to hear the stories of God’s family, but it opens the door to churches to build positive and trustworthy relationships with local schools. It also involves volunteers who never dreamed they could do “children’s work”, to do it really well and make a difference. These volunteers often end up then offering to help out with other children’s ministries that attract children from “their” schools.”

AS I listened to Diane’s exciting sharing of Open the Book’s vision and mission I thought: “I bet the process of sharing bible stories transforms the storytellers too, as they re-engage with the stories in new and creative ways”. And then I found this poem in their latest newsletter…..

I helped open the Book for the children,
God’s wonderful story to unfold,
Tales of miracles, magi and angels
Of prophets and kings, brave and bold.

And I was there at the birth of creation,
The land and the sky and the sea.
Walked in a garden at Eden,
Tasted fruit from a forbidden tree.

Was enslaved in a far distant country.
Rejoiced with God’s people set free.
Followed in the footsteps of Moses,
Towards Canaan across the Red Sea.

I’ve ridden a “hobby-horse” camel
Through a burning hot desert storm,
Knelt at a “clothes-airer” stable
The night that a baby was born.

I followed the man they called Jesus
From the shores of Lake Galilee’
Cheered with a crowd waving palm leaves,
Mourned at the foot of a tree.

I wept on that first Easter morning
At the sigh of a bare empty tomb,
Marvelled at the marks of the nails
On the man in that locked upper room.

Yes, I opened the book for the children,
But the amazing truth is, you see,
In opening the book for the children
It has opened far wider for me.

“It has opened far wider for me” by Margaret Daniels, Barnwood Primary
School, Gloucester

Oh the beauty of ministering with and to children! We are so blessed to get just as much (and often more) than we give!


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  2. Amazing stuff Jill. God's richest blessings. To God be the glory.

    God Bless