In the Mission and Ministry with Schools introductory blog post, an outline of OFSTED expectations was included. As there are requirements for spiritual input and religious / faith understanding in every school, often they opt for some assemblies to become times of ‘collective worship’. (For church schools, this is a key part of their faith-school identity and ultimately very important in the SIAMS inspection. See here for more information.)

It is often possible for churches to offer their services in leading collective worship assemblies – and most of the time schools (faith based or not) are welcoming. But it is always helpful to arrive at their door wearing a well-recognised label which is respected and trusted!
Rather than allowing people to prove themselves in front of the children, with a trial and error approach, being part of an organisation provides some safeguarding for what will be said and therefore heard. ‘Open The Book’ provides just this: expectation of what the church representative(s) will share, and accountability from both sides.

So, what is Open The Book?
“Open the Book is a project which offers primary school children an opportunity to hear the major stories of the Bible, from a team of Christians from local churches, who present the stories during assemblies/acts of Collective Worship. Each presentation takes around 10-15 minutes and can be incorporated into a wider school assembly, or can stand alone. It is a three-year rolling programme with an additional, but optional fourth year of material based on Christian Values.”

Many Open the Book teams in Durham Diocese work ecumenically and attend multiple primary schools across the week/month, with individuals usually on a rota to relieve some commitment pressure but keep consistency.
The Bible stories have been written out by Bob Hartman in the Lion Storyteller Bible in such a way that they are interactive, add some personal touches to characters, add humour or other emotions (where appropriate) and create a narrator/actors scenario which is easy to use.

Many teams have found that using the simple format of ‘opening the book’ and acting out what is narrated has also grown the Bible knowledge and understanding of the team members! The time spent in preparation for each assembly often provides a ‘small group’ feel, with a chance to pray for the schools and dig deeper in to the story together.

Extra-curricular clubs can be a link with families outside of the church (see previous blog post) and in the same way, doing assemblies can create the desired familiarity and security. As the children get to know the team, so they often want to become involved in other things where those members will be present, such as holiday clubs or seasonal activities.

Sharon Pritchard is the Children’s Ministry Adviser for the Diocese of Durham and she would love to support your church / team as they grow this ministry in the area.
Sharon can be contacted by email: [email protected]

The Resources Centre based in Cuthbert House, Durham has lots of costumes, puppets and other props you may need. Their online catalogue is here.
There are also some training and events coming up locally. Check out the Open the Book website for more information: Open the Book events page

The Resources Centre based in Cuthbert House, Durham has lots of costumes, puppets and other props you may need. Their online catalogue is here.
There are also some training and events coming up locally. Check out the Open the Book website for more information: Open the Book events page