Posts from our Church Family Worker, Sarah Butcher. Her views do not necessarily represent those of the Church Council.
- Books, books, BOOKS!! June 17, 2013
Once upon a time, I had a coffee table. As Neil can tell you, our coffee table is sort of hard to see right now. Upon it there is a big pile of books. This is my children’s/youth work/Christian book “to read” pile.
It all started a few weeks ago when I bought a new book to read (“Making Disciples in Messy Church”). I went to pick it up to read it, and then it occurred to me that I had already started 2 books and had one from Beeston library that needed to be returned soon, not to mention other books I had bought in the past (some of which had already been partly read). So it got me thinking generally about learning and knowing things (especially to do with faith and children/youth work) and what priority I put upon reading non-fiction books.
So hence the pile. I keep seeing it, being reminded that I need to read more and encouraged to read to get through these books (and partly it’s there because I’m running out of bookshelf space). I have a mixture, some on various aspects of children and youth work in churches and others about various aspects of Christianity. There is also the latest edition of the Youthwork magazine and in addition to all of this, I have started reading a few Christian blogs. I’m learning more about different views, different ideas, new ways about going about doing things and being inspired by others’ accounts. It’s not like I didn’t read before, but having the stuff in front of me reminds me to make it a regular part of my life, rather than something I do when I remember and have time.
What Christian books have you read that you have learned a lot from, found inspirational or just enjoyed? (because I apparently need more books on my pile!) Also, don’t forget Chilwell Road has a Church Library that anyone can borrow books from, and there’s some good ones on there! Some of mine, once finished, will end up there, and there’s some on there I want to read. But I think I’ll try and clear my pile first! (if possible: so far I’m on my third book of the pile and since started I’ve added 2 more and a magazine!).
- Which don’t belong? June 4, 2013
As the family worker, I usually join the toddler group when it meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (from 9:30am, contact the office on 943 1164 for more details). A couple of weeks ago, the biologist in me took over and I was intrigued by the selection of “dinosaurs” that came out of the dinosaur toy box in the toy cupboard.
I had good fun that day playing with the dinosaurs and reading the dinosaur books with the children (should perhaps read “other children”!) It mixes my love of science and playing. What more could I want?
That’s the thing when you employ someone to do work with children – they can get as excited about the toys as the little ones do.
- Youth Fellowship Fun June 2, 2013
It’s a Sunday evening, which means: Youth Fellowship! Running from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, and now just moved to be weekly, is a time for year 8 and up to meet to do…well all sort of things.
Recent sessions have done the following things: play games (table tennis is popular), balloon modelling, learning about Water Aid and human rights and played more games.
I (Sarah, Church Family Worker) am currently at Youth Fellowship on a games/socialising evening and this is what is happening: 2 people are playing a rousing game of under-the-table-tennis (there is much discussion over whether this should be renamed “under the table table tennis). 2 more are doing Kung Fu dancing while a third takes photos. Some are missing due to exam revision or being otherwise busy. While what we do is varied, you can be sure that there will be fun and silliness (no loud singing of Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dream Coat this week…yet!) but at the same time we can have serious discussions about various topics.
- Mission: Rescue. Prayer Points April 7, 2013
This year’s Holiday Club is Mission: Rescue. Taking on a spy/secret agent theme, it looks at rescue focusing on the story of how God saved the Israelites from Egypt using Moses and how God’s ultimate rescue plan involves Jesus.
During Holiday Club week, please pray for the following:
- That we have a good turnout of children
- That we make everyone that comes feel welcome and settles in
- That everyone is safe
- Leaders as they lead games, crafts and learning from the story of Moses
- That as well as having lots of fun, we learn about God and that the faith of both leaders and attenders grows
- That attenders and their families come to the Holiday Club Service (14th April) and that it may be a way to welcome new people into our congregation
- A Balancing Act January 24, 2013
The following is the devotions I prepared ahead of the Junior Church meeting on Tuesday evening. The beginning section is from Acts 12:1-16, but I have paraphrased from the NIV to highlight one particular point of the passage while still giving some context to the story:
In the early days of the church, soon after Saul’s conversion, King Herod was persecuting the Christians. He had James, brother of John, put to death and when this met with approval from the Jews, seized Peter. This was just before Passover, so Peter was put in prison until his trial, scheduled after the festival.
The night before the trial, Peter was asleep in prison. An angel appeared, woke up Peter and the chains fell off his wrists. The angel led Peter out of the prison, despite guards and closed doors and then left once Peter was a street clear of the jail. Peter then headed to the house of Mary, mother of John, where a number of Christians were gathered, praying.
Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognised Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter’s at the door!’
‘You’re out of your mind, it can’t be him’ they told her. When she kept insisting, “it is him, it is!” they said, ‘It must be his angel.’
But poor Peter, still waiting outside, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and when they saw him, they were astonished!
You’ve got to love Rhoda’s enthusiasm. Little is said about her in the bible, but some versions refer to her as a servant girl and it’s easy to see her as a child. She is capable, she gets things done like answering doors and relaying messages, but sometimes her overexcitement and perhaps inexperience gets the better of her and she neglects things like opening the door. The grown-ups around her put a greater reliance on their own judgement than her testimony.
I read that passage and think of our young people, children and teens. They are enthusiastic, capable and do many things. But at the same time they still have a lot to learn and we’re not about to sign them up as chair of Mission and Service, or be local preachers.
But how do we balance these 2 things, allowing them to serve, letting them make mistakes and accepting the inevitable problems while at the same time taking time to teach and guide them? And how do we correct them without demoralising them? How do we allow them to exercise responsibility without over- or under-burdening them? How much is “enough” cotton wool to wrap them in?
Hats off to Rhoda – she told them what she saw and persisted even when the others didn’t believe her. We can’t assume our young people will persist if we keep belittling them.
This is an issue that no easy answer exists for. Every young person is different and even the best leaders will get it wrong sometimes. But we need to remember that we are not alone. We have one another. We have resources (books, magazines, online) and we have the support of Father in Heaven. We need to spend time sharing ideas, training and praying.
We spent the following few minutes in prayer. We each had a star sticker as a prayer prompt to represent one of the little “stars” under our care that they may grow into big stars that emit much light for God.
For any members of the congregation reading this, I urge you to pray for our young people and our Junior Church leaders/helpers and I certainly think it’s helpful, in addition to general prayer for them, to pick a few individuals to particularly focus on.
- A Funny Play Church Moment January 16, 2013
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I run Play Church. It’s aimed at children that attend the toddler group (ranging up to age 4) and their carers. We normally start with a short activity, like a game, a craft or another activity. We then have a bible story, prayer, song and then our closing prayer, which is always the same.
This week we were looking at the story of Deborah. I introduced our story, “about a woman in the bible called Deborah”.
Then a little voiced piped in, full of confidence, “I’ve seen a zebra!!”
(If this doesn’t make sense, read it aloud!)
- A Hive of Christmas Activity December 15, 2012
It’s a great morning to come and sit in church. Doing some last minute preparation ahead of this afternoon’s Messy Church I came down to collect some bits and see what was happening. In church, a group of people are making Christmas Flower arrangements. The church is filled with the sounds of “The Snowman” Walking in the Air, a practice ahead of this afternoon’s concert.
Elsewhere around church, Christmas dinner is being cooked in the kitchen, where the cooks are diligently preparing Christmas dinner. The hall is being set up to serve Christmas Dinner and each time I look around the church is looking a little more Christmassy!
In addition to this, the Kumon people coming and going to their groups, occasionally peering in to see what we’re up to.
Here’s a couple of the displays members of Junior Church have been making:
Christmas is most definitely coming!
- What do balloon snakes eat? November 18, 2012
What do balloon snakes eat? I know a number of children and their families that after this afternoon know the answer to that question: bubbles! Today’s snakes seemed to enjoy “eating” lots of bubbles at our party!
So today was the cradle roll party: an opportunity for children on the cradle roll (those baptised into the church under the age of 3) and their families to come have fun. So what was this for? It was an opportunity for us to come together and show that we the church care for them, to get to know them a little better and let them know what things we offer.
At least half of the cradle roll families attended our party and seemed to have a fabulous time! With toys, a fantastic entertainer from Bongo Bongo and party food there was time to play, sing, dance, eat, chat and catch up with families, some of whom we only see very occasionally.Thank you, God, for fun parties, and for making today’s so successful! Please look after our cradle roll families in the midst of their busy lives.
- Quick!! Get a new battery! August 15, 2012
The church is an interesting place and being quite a silly person (I can pull off mature and sensible when required), I often find amusement in things. Today I happened to glance at the board outside the office, specifically the sheet for listing the location of things that need fixing, and the nature of problems. I found the bottom one funny.
But this revelation will not stop me having odd moments of amusement as I think of the chaos caused in a Sunday morning service when the battery goes 1 minute into the sermon and the stewards are scrambling around for 2 fully charged AAs.
- Messy Church May 29, 2012
On Saturday 26th May at around 4pm it was part way through our David and Goliath themed Messy Church at Wollaton Road Methodist. I had a moment between helping different children making crowns to glance around our Messy Church. In front of me were a table full of children constructing and decorating crowns (because David became king). On the table to my right, someone was helping a young child spread paint over a sheet of paper to add to the massive Goliath. On my left there was a table where adults and children diligently decorated rocks. Through the door into the church people were helping each other make sling shots before they got to practise shooting ping-pong balls at Goliath.
The atmosphere was great. People of different ages were talking to each other and helping each other. There was a sense of fun, but also of purpose. One activity was finished before going on to the next. Children and adults alike were concentrating on their creations.
This is how Messy Church generally starts. There are a series of activities, mostly craft but some other things, like crawling into the belly of a pretend fish, shooting Goliath or a prayer station. People can choose which they go to and when. There’s time for conversations about what we’re doing, about God and about things going on. The different activities are then tied together with a time of celebration. This takes the form of a bible story and talk with song and prayer. We then wrap up our time with a meal together.
The main aim of Messy Church is open up the church to families that don’t otherwise go to church. Obviously families are very welcome at our Sunday services and here at Chilwell Road we are blessed with many children. As much as churches can make families welcome in Sunday services, still many people don’t come for a whole host of reasons. Some may be unable, due to work. Some may not view coming to church as important as other activities. Others may perceive church as a boring place with odd customs where you need to know when to stand or sit, where they sing boring, long hymns and someone stands at the front and tells them what they should and shouldn’t do. Messy Church offers something different that these people may find more appealing.
So far it has been very successful. Up and down the country there are stories of churches with almost no children that have started Messy Churches and have reached many people with whom they’d previously had no contact. They are a great opportunity to reach new people with the gospel message. I pray that our Messy Church is successful in reaching many families in Beeston that otherwise wouldn’t come to church.
Don’t expect Messy Church to increase the numbers of families in Sunday worship. That generally doesn’t happen, but I know of no church where it has led to a decrease in the number of Sunday worshippers.
Messy Church is exciting though. It’s an area of growth, where new people are being welcomed into the church. We share in fellowship and faith. People are interested. Families are worshipping together.
I would encourage anyone interested or curious about Messy Church to visit our next one (30th June 3:30-5:30pm at Wollaton Road Methodist Church). They are fantastic events to invite families that don’t normally attend church. Also extra help would be appreciated, ranging from helping in the kitchen, assisting children with a craft activity, welcoming and chatting to people or helping move furniture. If you’re interested in coming or helping or just would like more information, please contact me!
- The Church Family Worker now has a blog! May 29, 2012
Yes, it’s here! The Church Family Worker blog, for now as part of the Church blog. I’ve been intending for some time to get this started.
The main aims of my posts are to let people know what I get up to, what projects I’m involved in and advertise events that may be of particular interest.
If you do have any questions for me or if you want to know more about anything I’ve mentioned, please be in touch!