re:source and SUPA Clubs Supporting Christian Groups in Schools Great.. You want to start a Christian group. and here s how to do it

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1 Guides For Leaders Getting Started Starting and running a Christian group- guidelines for leaders These guidelines have been written for students leading a group but the principles will also apply to youth leaders, teachers etc. Great.. You want to start a Christian group. and here s how to do it But have you stopped to ask: WHY? Some possible reasons might be: To pray with other Christians for your friends and school. To discuss different issues with other Christians. To learn more about the Bible. So that your friends can hear about Jesus. Each of these is a great reason for starting a Christian group, and a group can fulfil some or all of these. And remember, the existence of a Christian group is a witness in itself! A. Setting up a group You will need to share your ideas with the other Christians in the school. Why not get together and talk through why you want to start a group. It would also be good to pray together about your plans. Being clear on why you want to start a group is really important so make sure you agree on what the aims are going to be. It might be that some of the Christian pupils don t want to be involved. Gently ask them why, listen to their concerns and remember that, in the end, it is their decision. It is probably best if one or two of you have the main responsibility for running the group. 1. Pray. Get together to pray and plan a programme. 2. Permission. Ask the head teacher for permission to start a group. If you are nervous perhaps a Christian teacher, parent, schools worker or minister can come with you. Remember to make an appointment in advance. Where possible try and encourage people to pray for you when you go to see the Head. It s also a good idea to have your aims and a draft programme written down to show the head teacher. 3. Support. You may want to seek the support of someone to help with your plans and programme. This could be a Share your ideas with the other Christians in the school Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 1

2 Guides For Leaders Getting Started Christian member of staff, schools worker or someone from a local church. They may be able to help by providing practical support, giving advice, praying, or even regular visits to the group. 4. Finance. It s likely that at some point you might need to think about finance for your group. For example, you may want to buy some Bibles, or you may want to have a small float for expenses that occur from time to time. It s possible that the school might be able to help with a small starter gift or with a particular item (e.g. Bibles or a kettle). Alternatively you could approach a local church, schools worker, youth worker or Christian parent who may be able to help. 5. After receiving permission from the Head: a. Decide where to meet Pray that God will guide you to the most suitable room for the club. b. Decide when to meet. Most groups meet during the lunch break, but some groups meet after school and some even before school! Decide what time is best for you and try to stick to the same time each week. You could approach a local church, schools worker, youth worker or Christian parent to help with ideas. c. Choose a name It s worth thinking what you re going to call your group. Here are a few ideas: X-tra, X-plore! The Rock, re:source, Solid, Shine. You could have a competition to choose the best name. The younger pupils would love this! You could give a Christian book as a prize! Try to get a room that has access to a TV, DVD player and VCR. Sometimes using a form class can be awkward as pupils come in to get their bags or to shelter from the rain. If possible try to avoid using a room with too many windows so that you don t get pupils knocking on the windows during the meeting. Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 2

3 Guides For Leaders Getting Started d. Make the group known. There are a number of ways of doing this and you will know what works best in your school. Here are some suggestions: Characters from the Bible E.g. Jesus, David, Moses, Esther, Peter Global issues E.g. Poverty, Fair Trade, climate change Posters Notes in the registers Announcements in assembly Invitation cards (like business cards). Once again you could have a competition to see who could design the most attractive business cards Invite your friends- this is always the best way! Ask the school for a notice board for the group B. Organising the programme When organizing a programme it is important to have variety in both content (your themes) and activity (what you do). Here are some examples of the different sort of content and activities that you could have: Group bible study Visiting speaker Social event Video Games Quizzes Crafts Role play Debate Prayer ACTIVITIES It is important to have a variety of content AND activity School based project e.g. Litter pick An act of service (e.g. Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes) Each group is different, but here are a few ideas that have worked in different schools CONTENT Topical Issues relevant to young people E.g. Alcohol, relationships, honesty A book of the bible E.g. Philippians, Mark, Nehemiah Themes from the Bible E.g. Prayer, discipleship, evangelism a. When you were deciding on what the group should be for, you may have come up with several different reasons. It might mean that you have to have two groups: one for the Christians to support each other; the other group could be a place where people who aren t Christians can find out what it is all about. Alternatively, you might decide to have just one group, but vary what you do each week. One week it is for the Christians, next week it is for the nonchristians and so on. Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 3

4 Guides For Leaders Getting Started b. Some groups meet specifically to pray for friends and the school. If you don t have time to organize a programme don t give up meeting together! Who knows what God can do in answer to the prayers of young people in school. Check it out! (James 5 verse 16b) f. Other groups follow the drop-in method where there s an opportunity for pupils to drop in to a room, have tea / coffee/ juice and biscuits and an opportunity to relax, chat and discuss. g. Others follow the 3 week cycle of: c. 123 GO Some groups have a Bible study/ prayer time for three weeks, then on the fourth week they hold an outreach event / meeting e.g. Christmas party and speaker; having somebody in to talk on Creation v Evolution; having a question panel (you could call it Grill a Christian - this will appeal to the older pupils). Don t forget to make a special effort to announce these special meetings. Speaker Video Bible study + prayer Another idea is to have a pattern like this: It s good to show that Christians have a concern for people s physical AND spiritual needs d. Some groups do crafts e.g. Christmas cards with a message, collage on a story from the Bible. e. Some groups follow the pattern of games at the start, then a talk for 5-10 minutes and prayer each week. The younger pupils love games and it s a great way of attracting a crowd! Week 1 Outreach. Warm up activity /quiz / video - talk / input 5-10 minutes Week 2 Fellowship. Opportunity for Christians to get together to chat and pray Week 3 Teaching / study. You could choose a book from the Bible or a subject e.g. The Holy Spirit Week 4 Serving. E.g. organize a coffee bar or non-alcohol bar to raise money for TEARfund, prepare shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child etc. It s good to show that Christians have a concern for the physical needs as well as the spiritual needs of people. One Christian club supports a child with TEARfund and a box is passed round every week Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 4

5 Guides For Leaders Getting Started h. You could have a 6-week series (half a term) on themes such as love/ friendship, peer pressure, sex, drugs, exams and worry. These subjects, as you know, are on the minds of your friends and the gospel is relevant to each one of them. i. You could have a series of about six weeks based on film clips and then discuss subjects that arise As you can see there are many ways of organising your programme. It depends on how many of you there are to run the group, what age group you re aiming at and on what appeals to you all etc.! Remember enthusiasm and creativity help! Speakers If you invite a speaker who has an interesting story/job you might want to let the Head teacher/ RE /PSHE / Careers teacher know before hand so that they could be involved in lessons or assemblies. If a missionary speaks French or Spanish for example, I m sure the Modern Language teachers would like to use him/her. Most schools like to have visitors into the school. Make sure before hand of course that the speaker is available! If the Christians in the Christian group represent a number of churches in the town / area try to make sure that you invite speakers from all those churches. Remember, a school Christian group isn t one church, but a group of Christians from a number of different churches getting together to be a witness in the school! Always ask permission before inviting anyone into the school. Don t think that only ministers, vicars, or schools workers can speak at Christian groups. It s good for pupils to meet a cross-section of Christians of different ages and background. One Christian group invited a policeman, farmer, and an Image Consultant to share their testimony and talk about their work. Every Christian has a story to tell! Always ask permission before inviting anyone in to the school C. FINALLY.. Dos and Don ts i) Do. Look after the room you are using. If you are using the black/white board make sure that you don t rub out notes, or important diagrams. If you re not sure, don t use the board. Tidy the room at the end making sure it s as tidy, if not tidier than, at the beginning of the meeting. If pupils eat their lunch during the meeting, make sure the rubbish is in the bin before you leave the room. Respecting the room is an important part of the groups witness. Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 5

6 Guides For Leaders Getting Started ii) Do. Be punctual in starting and especially in ending the meeting. Try starting on time every week and finishing 5 minutes before the bell to allow time to clear up before leaving the room. Make sure that speakers from outside know exactly how much time they ve got to speak and what time they need to finish. Make sure the speakers arrive in plenty of time before the start of the meeting so that they can organize themselves and have time to chat with the pupils as they arrive. v) Don t. Be a clique! - Be welcoming. Try to create a relaxed atmosphere in the room. The best way to make people feel welcome is to chat to them, show an interest in them, and treat them with respect iii) Do... Review and evaluate what you are doing. Make sure you stop every now and then to review how things are going. What has worked well? What did not go so well? What could have been even better? Which activities / meetings seem to have helped people get to know God better? What have people enjoyed doing? These can be difficult questions as we often find it hard to give and receive comments in a constructive manner. Remember to speak with love, gentleness and sensitivity. Make sure you also get the comments of the group members (not just the leaders) as they will have valuable things to say. iv) Don t. Get discouraged if not many come! We live by faith and not by sight! (2 Corinthians 5:7) Here are a few ideas that have worked for some groups: a) Food! This can be a bit tricky these days as lots of schools have Healthy Eating policies. If you are going to offer food, make sure you are not going to get into trouble over it. The same applies for prizes for quizzes and games. Again, you know best what is allowed in your school. b) Music some groups have music playing in the background before the meeting starts. c) However, the best way to make people feel welcome is to chat to them, show an interest in them, treat them with respect and remember things about them. vi) Don t. Neglect your school work. Primarily you are at school to learn. Being involved in a group is a brilliant thing to do, but it must not be at the expense of your education as this is a bad witness. Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 6

7 Guides For Leaders Getting Started Books and other useful resources Maybe you have Christian books that you have read and enjoyed. What about starting a small library in the club and lending books out? It might be useful to have copies of small books that you could give out to people who are interested in finding out more about Jesus. For example: Why Jesus? by Nicky Gumbel. These can be bought in packs of 10 for about 4. Resources to help you lead Word Up: Group Bible Resources for 11-14s - Scripture Union 3.99 Did you know? The first session in September each year is always a session to help you and your group think about why you are getting together. If you are starting mid-way through the year, it might be a good idea to use one of these sessions early on. So what are you waiting for? GO FOR IT! Scripture Union 2012 Getting Started Guide Page 7

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