SJ Club Vision, Aims & Practice
This document aims to set out how we work on a Sunday morning. It pulls together all the theology and practice ideas that we have shared over the last few years and seeks to give us leaders a template for our play.
We exist because God loves children… We believe that God is at work in and through children, that he thinks they are wonderful and important and that he holds and protects them in his mighty wings. Our ministry is not to the children, but with them as we seek to meet with God together and deepen our faith in him knowing that we are all on a journey of transformation to becoming more like Jesus. ?sharing & Modelling? along-siding?
We love God the Father, his risen son Jesus, his Spirit and his word given to us in the Bible and expect that we will meet our God through all these ways. We love each other and are ready to hear from God through each other both child and adult. We love God’s world and look to find him in the world around us. We depend on God knowing that ‘With God’s power working in(side) us, he can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of (imagine) Ephesians 3.20
to nurture and disciple children in their faith so that they come to know Jesus as their saviour, Lord and forever friend
- to enable the children to have meaningful and memorable encounters with God (rather than considering them primarily as ‘vessels to be filled’ with knowledge about God)
- to encourage the children to think about bible stories and scripture for themselves, asking questions and finding meaning, developing their own spiritual toolkit
This section includes things to have in the back ground of our planning (e.g. the SPIRIT checklist) and more practical based ideas after this.
Nurturing Spirituality and Faith – a Checklist
We want to be spontaneous to be ready to take opportunities to experience ‘woah’ moments, for example, If it’s sunny and the sky is bright blue: go outside and all lie down on the grass and look at it…if it’s snowing, we’ll go and play in it then take a moment to reflect on the awesome nature of snow
We will ask the children, ‘What has made you go woah! this week?’ and ‘What is the most amazing thing that happened to you this week/ on holiday?’ etc
The checklist contains 6 criteria for ensuring spiritual foundations that lie at the core of achieving best practice in day to day children’s work: SPIRIT. We will refer to these as we prepare each week.
Space – creating sacred spaces that help children sense that ‘God is here’ and ‘this is a holy and safe place’. These includes the physical space of the building and rooms – that they express our belief and understanding of God; the emotional space – space to be ourselves, ask questions and express and a space to feel safe and held closely; auditory space – space for children to respond, to value their contribution, not being afraid of silence but using it to hear from God.
Practical ideas: Re-decorate SR in places to be more child friendly. Threshold to walk through and symbolic acts for the children to do as they enter e.g. light a candle, put their name on the cross…take shoes off? wristband that they make or that is generic or that can write a verse on, paper ones from events, paper chains,
Process (the journey) – Spirituality is more about process than product, it’s not about the end product but about drawing to close Christ on the journey, now. We need to safeguard the spiritual process in art and craft activities where children can work creatively, reflectively, with Christian language, to make meaning. These can be prayerful times and as such need uninterrupted time so children become absorbed in the process. Show and tell times don’t help here as they focus on the product
Imagination – and creativity, not about right answers all the time. Jesus was imaginative e.g. parables to teach, and he required his listeners to be imaginative too. We need to encourage children to be imaginative and when they have an off the wall suggestion, don’t dismiss it but try to understand what they are getting at. Can our imaginations, e.g. in telling a story, leave too little room for the child’s? Does this mean that people who think they are not creative or imaginative are actually well suited to ministry with children?
Relationship – Offering authentic ways of relating to one another is right at the core of spirituality, especially for Christians. God is 3 in one etc, the dance of the Trinity
- Across the ages: to integrate the ages more: treat each person’s spiritual perspective as valuable, regardless of age or knowledge.
- Use a speaking stone or holding cross to develop respect for everyone’s thoughts and ideas
- Could this promote a less individualistic style of spiritual life where we rely on each other to feed us?
Intimacy – with God, feeling safe to express feelings without laughter, ridicule, fear of your words being shared further without permission
Trust – trust is one of the first things that a baby learns and is a foundational aspect of our work in Seedlings crèche in particular. Do we trust the children and what they say, can they trust us enough to say what they think and feel? Trust is also about a relaxed/long-term attitude to feedback and ‘results’ It is therefore connected to “process’ and valuing the process over the end product. Do we let God speak for himself or are we keen to press home what we think the children need to hear?
Using the Bible and Prayer
We pray and use the bible both in our altogether times, in our groups, and in ‘stations’. These are some of the ways in which we use them. Using the Bible is explored further under ‘Reflection and Response’
- Silence & reflection: Prayer spaces, cave prayers under tables: a Space–Breathing–Simple phrase(e.g. Lord God, I am here)–Take it with you everywhere.
- A focus for prayer e.g. cross, candle, other object, different posture, photos of creation on screen,
- A shape or formula for prayer that uses gestures, words images or spaces with silences, a beginning and ending, time to listen and time to speak
Using the Bible – overview
- Space for reflection, Space for awe and wonder, Space to ask questions
- Handling the bible themselves, learning Bible verses
- Interactive: using figures to re-tell the story
Reflection and Response – Group Times
Following our Altogether Time we give the children further opportunity to reflect upon and respond to the Bible story we have shared. This happens in a number of different ways:
- open ended questions
- creative activities e.g. craft, cooking, Lego building, drawing
- games relating to and playing out the story or theme
- prayer activities and spaces
The document ‘Exploring the Bible with children’ sets this out in more detail giving some background, guidelines and practical ideas.
S J Club Discipline Policy
Our view of children
We exist because God loves children… We believe that God is at work in and through children, that he thinks they are wonderful and important and that he holds and protects them in his mighty wings. Our ministry is not to the children, but with them as we seek to meet with God together and deepen our faith in him knowing that we are all on a journey of transformation to becoming more like Jesus.
Values and Expectations
- Values over rules: We are here to meet with God, learn from each other, love each other as Jesus loves us: this is a special, sacred space’
- 3 Values/Expectations:
- Good listening: When an adult is talking, children are listening, not talking. When a child is talking, everyone is listening, not talking
- What’s yours is yours – covers keeping hands & feet to yourself etc
- Be kind and respectful
- The children serve each other e.g. by doing jobs that rotate each week
Inevitably, there will be times when we have to discipline children. This is how we will manage disruptive behaviour:
- to give a consistent structure to the way that we manage and discipline the children in SJ Club.
- to ensure that those children who are behaving well do not loose out on account of any children who are mis-behaving
- to ensure that we have clear boundaries from which to discipline children who break the rules and spoil a session for others
- we hope that our excellent programme, preparation and delivery will be enough in most situations to engage the children such that bad behaviour is not a problem
Group leaders will aim to;
- Be first in the room / have the room set up with an obvious focus e.g. an activity on tables / have an attention grabber activity or object
- Affirm a child e.g. say ‘well done’ to someone within the first few seconds of meeting
- Give clear specific instructions and say them twice
- ask the children to repeat what they are to do next
- use the children’s names lots
- tell children when they have done something good and give a reward, e.g. sticker, if appropriate (ask the Junior team to give these to the children)
- plan for more activities than you have time for
- be well rehearsed and prepared
- Set clear boundaries using our three rules as a base: Be kind and gentle, Good listening, Have fun
When children break these rules and disrupt the group we will follow the 1,2,3 principle (or 3 strikes and your out). After each subsequent breaking of the rules a child will be given the following discipline:
- A quiet word; ‘that’s your first warning’ or ‘that’s one’ (and can show one finger to reinforce)
- A child will receive a second warning; ‘that’s two’ or ‘that’s your second warning’ (and can show two fingers to reinforce)
- If they continue and receive a 3rd warning they will be taken out of the group and will be supervised by Tim or the another adult for 5 minutes or until they are calm enough to return.
- If on their return to their group they continue to mis-behave they will be taken back to their parents by Tim or another adult