Learning Journal 8 - Mission
For my ‘mission’ week I was part of a team which led a ‘holiday week’ kids’ club at St Mary’s church, Shirehampton. I chose to do this mission because I had no experience of working with children and I thought I ought to get some. The prospect of a week with up to thirty 5-8 year olds both excited and scared me! As a team we had decided to use some material from Scripture Union called Champion’s Challenge which tied in the Easter story with a sporting theme. Jesus as trainer, physio, team-mate, substitute and victor.
The team worked really well together in planning and everyone played their part in the running of the morning sessions. We had songs, games, drama, bible stories and lots of activities to keep the children interested and hopefully give them some memorable Christian input.
One or two interesting theological issues raised their heads during the course of the week. For example, on day 2 the theme was Jesus the physio, which examined the healing ministry of Jesus. We were very aware that one of the children, a 5 year old boy, had just recently lost his father to cancer. We had to try and address the subject of healing in simple and sensitive way which allowed for the fact that God doesn’t always heal in the way we would like him to and teach that God is there with us when we are sick or suffering.
On the fourth day, which dealt with the cross, the Scripture Union material used a fairly basic model of penal substitution in its explanation of the cross, hence the theme ‘Jesus the Substitute’. Some members of the team weren’t happy with this model of the atonement, much to the surprise of some other team members who didn’t realise that there were different models of the atonement. Much theological discussion ensued. In the end we decided perhaps going into the finer points of more nuanced understandings of the cross was going to be lost on the children and so we went with the material.
The week was lots of fun but was quite hard work. I came away with a new found respect for primary school teachers. We only had the children for 2 hours each morning, they have them all day. It was a real privilege to work with these children, many of whom were from quite deprived backgrounds and single parent families. It was particularly touching to have kids who turned up half an hour early and who didn’t want to go home at the end. I realised that, with the right team, and some good material, holiday clubs are quite doable and can be an excellent service to offer the community.