Across the diocese, many church groups are involved in extra-curricular activities with the young people in their parishes. Some examples of these are youth groups on an evening or Messy Church at a weekend. But there are also many clubs which utilise the relationship with the local school and are run on the school premises, as a breakfast club, or after school or even during the lunch break – in both primary and secondary schools.
In Coxhoe Primary School, Rev Alison and the team spend their Thursday afternoons at JAM club. (JAM stands for “Jesus And Me”)
With a simple Bible passage, followed by craft and food activities to think through the application of that passage, the format is simple. The week I visited, the focus was on the BEE-attitudes (Beatitudes) and some wonderful Bee-related crafts followed!
However, since beginning the group as an MLG project, the number of pupils wanting to attend has doubled! This prompted a conversation with the school to increase their space in the school and request additional support from staff.
With these adjustments made, the group have also had to adapt around the different finishing times of the infants and juniors. Providing Jammie Dodgers and a drink is part of this solution, as well as time for fellowship between leaders and club attendees.
The JAM club session encouraged caring and sharing, prompted deep conversations over the craft and finished with a lively worship song and a prayer. The components of ‘doing church’ together, in a slightly different format!
The fellowship and relationships between the church and school started through the vicar and a staff member. Gradually over time this has developed and there are more opportunities for the school and church to support each other at various times through the year, and in varying ways.
Many churches have seen a growth in their family service attendance and in other aspects of church and community life linked to their investment in spending time with children. For example, parents recognise the leaders of the clubs to also be the same providers of toddler groups, holiday clubs, Good Friday activities or even those who come to do Baptism preparation sessions.
If you would like more information about starting, leading and/or growing an extra-curricular activity session in your local school, please contact Sharon Pritchard (primary) or Andy Harris (secondary).