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/ 12 December 2014

Back to school?

I’m writing this at Christmas time and no doubt, like me, you’re rushed off your feet – with Christmas events at church, school and work, deadlines to be met before the holidays, church services to plan for and attend… Mind you, as children’s workers we can be rushed off our feet throughout the year. There’s always something that needs to be done: sessions to be planned, mess to be cleared up or awkward situations to be diffused. Whether we’re a volunteer or paid worker, sometimes it’s all we can do to draw breath, before plunging into the next thing.

In this endless tornado, the idea of spending time being trained can seem like a luxury that we just can’t afford. However, stepping away from the ongoing activity of church life and reflecting more deeply on an aspect of children’s work, theology or practice can reap rewards in the long run. Discovering and sharing new ideas, and learning about different ways of helping children engage with God can only improve the way we do children’s work in our own church.

Taking part in training and being open to new ideas can help us move from OK children’s work to good to great. The Diocese and different episcopal Areas run training events throughout the year. The four-session Academy Basics course and the year-long Children’s Ministry Academy are just two of the options open to you. There also some amazing one-off sessions put on across London, and you can get in touch with Sam Donoghue to discuss bespoke training in your church.

There are regional and national training events too, such as the upcoming Hand in Hand Conference. Scripture Union, Urban Saints and other organisations offer training too, both generally and to suit your context.

This year, we held the Academy Basics course across the diocese: Highgate, Finchley, Tower Hamlets, Kensal Green, Friern Barnet and Fulham. There are already courses in the pipeline in Edgware and Twickenham for 2015 – look out for more information about those. The Basics course is for those who are new to children’s work or who’d like to revisit the essentials and get some new ideas and thinking. It covers leadership, storytelling and leading discussions, planning and teamwork as well as good practice in safeguarding. Participants have found new ideas and reflected on how they might start or continue in children’s work:

  • ‘Very motivating, I felt encouraged to go on.’
  • ‘Enjoyed the course, it gave me ideas to take back and explore with my team.’
  • ‘Made me think about my role in ways I did not think of before.’

The Children’s Ministry Academy is for those who want to reflect more deeply on children’s work. It takes place once a month over a school year. The longer-term nature of this course gives space for attendees to spend time reading about and researching different methodologies and practices.

‘The Children’s Ministry Academy is our flagship course for children’s workers in the diocese. It tries to take you beyond the ‘how to’ elements of training and looks instead at some of the key thinking in the field around child development, children’s spirituality and faith development, which are then contextualised into key elements of children’s work,’ says Sam Donoghue.

Of course, you may want to explore something a bit more formal. There are several colleges who offer diploma and degree courses – for more guidance, check out this article.

So there’s plenty on offer to get stuck into, whether you’ve gone an evening or a year. Spending some time reflecting on why you do what you do will help you do things even better!

Alex Taylor is the Diocese of London’s Children’s Ministry Trainer.

About Alex Taylor

Alex Taylor has worked with the children and youth team to provide training and support churches. He is an experienced children's and youth worker and writer.

Read more from Alex Taylor

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