Praying For Schools Really Works

After posting my last blog regarding praying for our local secondary school, I received a message from an old school friend which I think is a real encouragement to be praying for the school. I’ve reproduced the edited highlights here, with his permission and with the names disguised for privacy reasons.

“Hi Paul! 

…the thing that spurred me on to get in touch was reading about your initiative for praying for your local school – what a great idea! I don’t know if you were aware of this, but there was a similar group that met to pray for our school about 10 years ago (when we were young whipper-snappers!). 

I used to go along to these meetings, along with a couple of other people, and I can remember that we once had a brainwave to pray for members of staff there, so I mentioned Miss P, my form tutor at the time in year 10/11. (If you can’t remember her, she was the R.E. teacher with blonde hair). At the time, she wasn’t a christian (AH asked her if she was once, to which she replied “Er…. no, definitely not!”), and we decided to pray that God would work in her life, and that she might hear the gospel and be saved. We did this a few times, and then to be honest, I think we kind of forgot about it…

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of going back into our school to speak in the CU, and guess what? Miss P  tells me that she became a christian just after we left the sixth form!!! Isn’t God good?!!

Another thing I remember is a guy in the year above us called L coming along to the CU. At the time, I think he came along because it was a good place to meet people and have a bit of fun, although again, he wouldn’t have called himself a christian. Again, he was one of the guys we prayed for at those meetings, and again, God faithfully answered our prayers – he heard the gospel at uni and was saved as a student!

Can I just encourage you with these two examples to pray expectantly for your school? You may not see answers to prayer immediately (although God is God, and He can do what He likes, so He may surprise you!), but be assured that He is powerful, and that prayer works!

By the way, your high school CU is in good company; our CU got banned from eating food in classrooms in 2003 immediately after an evangelistic meeting with free donuts!!! (Sounds familiar!) Similarly, it caused attendance to plummet, and again, it was very much an issue that we prayed about as a CU, and as part of that prayer meeting. I think in the end, after much prayer, we wrote a letter to Mr G explaining our predicament, and asking for exemption for the CU to be able to eat in classrooms. At first, this was fiercely refused by the powers that be, although about a week later, I was called to a meeting with Mr L and Mr G, where they said that they’d had a change of heart, and would give us permission to eat in classrooms! Bearing in mind the resistance that we’d previously faced, I still believe that was a clear example of God’s hand at work, and a real life (albeit mini!) miracle! 

So yeah, one thing I learned at our school is that God really is faithful and that he does answer prayer! (A much more useful lesson than Maths with Mrs W, in my opinion! :P) Do press on with praying for your school, even if there are only a few of you (there were 3 – 5 people at our one), and see what God does!

God Bless

Andrew”

What a great encouragement for us to hear as we start to think about praying for our local school. I hope that encouragement like this will lead us to come to prayer expectantly and trusting that God will open doors for the gospel.

Praying For Our Local Secondary School

One area of my work that I’ve never really felt like I’ve been able to get on top of, is working in our local secondary school. I feel like the school has become a bit of burden to me, not in the sense that I dislike working there, but in the sense that it feels like we’ve made very few in roads there and have constantly been knocked back.

In some ways, we’re incredibly lucky as a church to have as much involvement in the school as we do. The school is very open to using us and other churches to give assemblies and to come in to speak in religious education lessons. These are undoubtedly great opportunities but they’re also very hit and run, with no real chance to build any momentum. Having done a number of lessons there, I’ve seen first hand the spiritual darkness that seems to engulf so many of the young people, something I previously blogged about here.

There are very few lights shining in the school right now.

There was a very small Christian Union when I arrived but it eventually fizzled out and died. We managed to reboot it in late 2011 and we saw a great number of non-Christians coming along, mainly due to the enticement of free doughnuts and juice, but whatever their motivations, they were still being exposed to the gospel. However, it wasn’t long until the school banned us from bringing food in with us and number soon dropped again until we were left with only 1 or 2 people attending. The reasons given were mixed but I guessed that there was likely some anti-Christian feeling further up the chain of command which had put pay to our work. After a promising start, it felt like all the doors had suddenly been shut. With such a large amount of unreached young people right on our doorstep and having seen the vastness of the spiritual poverty there, I’m left feeling pretty dejected about the situation there as well as feeling alone in my efforts & desire to see any real change. But with all this in mind, I’ve come up with a solution.

We’re going to pray for young people in that school.

And I mean we’re going to pray for them regularly. And when I say ‘we’, I mean the church. If we want to see God make a difference in the lives of those young people, we have to be prepared to pray for them more than twice a year at First Priority. That’s why I’m starting a weekly prayer meeting for the school, where members of the church family who feel the same way I do will come together to pray for that school.

Only prayer will open doors in the school

I don’t know what we’re going to pray for, I don’t know how long the meeting will last or even where or when it will take place, and I don’t have any plans regarding what this will lead to. All I know is that if we pray for that school, and I mean really pray and are faithful in it, God will open those doors. I don’t know how, but He will. He’s the only one who can.

That’s why if you’re a member of my church and you’re reading this, I want you to come and pray with me. Like I said, I don’t even have a venue or a date yet, although I know it would most likely have to be a daytime thing. But if you want to get behind this as a church then get in touch with me. Comment on this post and tell me when a convenient meeting time would be for you, or message me back on Facebook which I’m hoping you’ve been directed here from. Once I have some people on board we’ll start praying and let God do the rest.

Please don’t let apathy stop you from getting involved in this. As Leo Buscaglia said:

“I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn.”

If we really loved these people, we’d pray for them. Apathy only shows our lack of any real love for these young people. So let’s step up our game as a church and get behind this.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Terminator Salvation – What Would The Terminator Make Of Jesus?

Below is a rough script I used for a Christmas assembly at our local secondary school. I didn’t follow it exactly but used it as more of a springboard to jog my memory and keep track. Hope it entertains and enlightens.

“As Christmas approaches you’ve probably already heard or you will do soon, plenty of people saying something like “it’s important to remember the true meaning of Christmas.” People will say that “Christmas isn’t just about getting lots of presents and eating too much. It’s a time for family and friends, remembering all the great things we’ve got to be thankful for and things like that.”

Maybe some of you’ll go to a carol service at a church and someone will say something like “it’s important we remember the true meaning of Christmas. It isn’t just about getting lots of presents and eating too much or even just about family and friends and remembering all the great things we’ve got to be thankful for. No the real meaning of Christmas is to remember the birth of Jesus.” You’ve probably heard things like that plenty of times before.

But the problem with leaving it at that, is that it doesn’t really tell us why we should be bothered about that and so it’s easy for us to misunderstand why Jesus was born. I’m going to show you a video from the American series Mad TV, which is a parody of Terminator 2. And in the video, the Terminator has been sent back in time to the night of Jesus’ birth with orders to protect him.

In the video, the Terminator doesn’t understand why Jesus was born and so it does everything it can to protect Jesus from any harm, including shooting the Roman soldiers and killing Judas so that he won’t be able to  betray Jesus. And it doesn’t seem able to grasp the fact that Jesus is supposed to die to save his people from their sins, despite Jesus’ best efforts to try and make it understand.

And that kind of shows us why simply saying that Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus isn’t really enough. If we don’t understand that Jesus came to die to save others, then we miss the point and Christmas doesn’t really make any sense. But often we don’t really think of the baby Jesus as the same Jesus who died on the cross all those years later. But the Bible is very clear from the beginning that Jesus is on a rescue mission. When an angel appears to Joseph he says “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

So right from the start, even from before Jesus was born, it was clear that he had come to save people. Even the name Jesus means “The Lord Saves.” And that’s why Christmas is important, because it’s the time that we remember that God has sent a rescuer into the world to save us.

Imagine that you’re climbing a mountain, isolated from anywhere else and miles and miles from anyone else. You’ve been climbing for ages and ages and you’re exhausted from the struggle of the climb. And as you take another step up the icy mountain, you lose your footing and you slip and you fall down the mountain, landing heavily on your leg a little way further back down cliff. After being dazed for a few seconds you try and stand but  as you do, excruciating pain shoots through your leg and you collapse. As you look down at your leg, you realise that it’s broken. You know this isn’t good as there’s no way you can get  down off the mountain by yourself. You fumble in your backpack for your phone and locating equipment but as you pull it out of your bag you see that all of it has been broken in the fall. You’ve got a flare but you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the chances of anyone seeing it are miniscule. It begins to get dark and you do your best to create a little snow hole, but in your weakened condition, it’s not really the best shelter you could have made and as the darkness sets in the cold really begins to bite. You have a little bit of food and water which you decide to ration, just in case, but you know that it won’t last you long, another day at most. Feeling hopeless, you drift in and out of sleep.

Bu then in the morning you’re woken by the sound of someone calling your name, not far from where you are. You cry out and moments later a man appears at the entrance to your snow hole, wearing a search and rescue jacket. He says “I knew you were out here, so when you didn’t come back I came to find you. I’ve searched every inch of this mountain but now I’ve found you.” You can’t describe how happy you feel. You were sure that you were going to die but now you know you’re going to be OK. And you cheer and shake the man’s hand and hug him. And with that the man picks you up and carries you back down the mountain to safety.

And we’re told that that’s what Jesus came to do. He came to rescue us because we couldn’t help ourselves. And that’s why we remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas, because it’s like that man appearing in the entrance to your snow hole. It’s the arrival of a rescuer when all hope seemed lost. And because he came to rescue us we want to welcome him with joy and celebration, just like we would the man on the mountain.

If you want to know what Christmas is really all about, it’s the first step in a rescue mission for all mankind, which is completed by Jesus’ death on the cross.

So this Christmas, why not try and find some time to think about how you might welcome your rescuer.”

Pizza & Jesus Anyone?

The Christian Union at our local secondary school died a bit of a death last year. With a grand attendance of zero, I felt it was best to pull the plug for a while. After all, there were probably better things I could be doing with my Wednesday lunch times than sitting alone in a slightly dilapidated classroom, wondering how long I would have to wait before it became acceptable for me to go and sign out at the reception desk without getting an odd look from the receptionist (for those interested it’s about 12 minutes).

Looking back, I’m convinced it was a good idea to let the ground lie fallow for a while. Last year was a bit hectic for a number of reasons and to try and pioneer a new group would have probably been a bit of a strain. But with the advent of a new school year and a bit more man power, I thought it’d be worth having another crack.  So the curate and I put our heads together and had a think. We thought to ourselves “what is it that kids with a limited lunch time want out of that lunch time these days?” and of course the answer we came up with was “Jesus!” Then we came to our senses and realised that neither of us were quite that out of touch with reality and that the actual answer was more like “food, drink & enough sugar to finish off a diabetic just by looking at it.”

With that in mind, we decided to do pizza and drinks each week, along with a short talk about Jesus and a chance to ask questions. The groups main focus would be evangelistic and we hoped that the free food and drink would be suitably enticing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the gospel needs a hook to hang it on, but in my experience, kids really like pizza, especially if it’s good pizza and with a Dominos just around the corner, we’d be missing a trick not to capitalise on it. Not to mention that the combination of pizza and Jesus is clearly awesome, as demonstrated by the photo below.

Someone order an Almighty Meaty & a Pepperoni Passion of the Christ?

So we decided to give it a go. The first week would just be a social in order to (hopefully) get to know some of the kids before really getting cracking. I spread the word amongst some of our young people and told them to bring their friends along. After all, they were gonna get free food and drink, that had to be an attractive offer. As Wednesday lunchtime approached, we headed to the school with pizza and drinks in hand along with a slight sense of trepidation. Would anyone turn up? What if we were overrun and couldn’t meet demand? It was a bit scary, but with no CU running for the last year, we didn’t really have anything to lose either.

Our local secondary school has two lunch breaks, both lasting 30 minutes (whatever happened to a lunch hour?!) and with different parts of the school being present at each. The first lunch rolled around and we had 6 kids turn up, which was great. At the second lunch, we had about 20. They all wanted to know why we were doing it and we were completely up front and told them that this was the new CU and that if they wanted to come along each week we’d be talking to them about Jesus. Most of them seemed happy with that and it was great that doing some lessons with classes last year meant that I had already crossed paths with some of them before. One kid even asked me how he would go about getting baptised!! I told him to keep coming along and we’d see how it went.

So our second meeting will be this Wednesday. Will anyone turn up this time, knowing that we’re going to be talking about Jesus? Who knows? Our first week was more successful than we could have hoped for. All we can do is keep praying that they will come back and that they’ll have the opportunity to hear about Jesus.

Christians to the Lions

I’ve just had the pleasure of doing 8 “Christians to the Lions” sessions in the local secondary school. For those of you not familiar with the format, it’s the same thing as a “Grill a Christian” session, where a number of Christians are grilled about any and every aspect of their faith.

This is the second year I’ve done this and it’s by far my favourite part of being involved in schools work. You will most likely never get a better opportunity to tell the gospel clearly in school than you do in these sessions. It’s worth doing the sessions for that one question by itself. Who knows what seeds might be sown?

It’s also just great fun. Well, it’s what I call fun. I love the fact that you have no idea what question is going to come next and it’s a great way to keep you on your toes. I had a great time doing some apologetics and it just reminded me how much I enjoy that side of things. It’s also great to see some of the young people clearly thinking deeply and reflecting on what is being said. Obviously there are always going to be those who are out to mock or try and throw you a curveball but that doesn’t bother me. It’s quite amusing when someone asks a question that they think is going to embarrass or throw you and you just reply, completely unfazed by it. They always look so disappointed.

But although that is quite good fun, it’s not really the prime reason to be there. Like I said, the best thing is the seeds that get sown. Sometimes it feels like a waste of time and that nothing is going in, but God’s word is never wasted.

Gain the World But Lose Your Soul

The church’s local secondary school recently asked me to do an assembly. The topic: reflections on the school year. This is a bizarre topic for someone who doesn’t work at the school to be asked to speak on. It’s also a slightly bizarre topic to ask a Christian speaker to come and speak on.

I met with one of the teachers in advance of the assembly to discuss what they were after and to pool ideas. The school were clearly after something to do with achievements. Look back over the year and get people to think about what they’ve achieved and give them a bit of a pat on the back. I said that ideally I’d like the assembly to have a slightly more Christian slant to it and luckily the school were very accommodating. So I went for a slightly different approach.

I chatted a bit about the things we achieve and how they’re things to be celebrated  but that ultimately they fade away and we move on to the next thing. But what happens when there isn’t anything left to move onto anymore? To make my point I showed the video for the Johnny Cash cover song “Hurt.” When Cash filmed the video, he was 71 years old, looking very frail and suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease. The song wasn’t written about him but the words of the song take on a new meaning when he sings them and they’re heard alongside the images of the video which cuts between images Cash as a young and old man. The footage with the old Cash was filmed in the House of Cash Museum which had been damaged by flood waters and become derelict, which really serves to reinforce the idea that all of Cash’s achievements had now faded away. You can watch it below

The video shows lots of the achievements in Cash’s life, particularly his music where he achieved huge success. But the words show his feelings about what he achieved – you can have it all, my empire of dirt. All that fame, all that success, all those achievements he calls an Empire of Dirt. Worthless. A mere memory. Cash looks back on his younger self and doesn’t recognise himself anymore. That was someone else. He comments on the mortality of man, saying everyone he knows goes away in the end, a sentiment made all the more poignant by his own frailty.

So he looks back at all he achieved, all that success, but what does he have now? What’s he left with at the end of his life? Was everything worthless?

Well no, not everything was worthless. Near the end of the video we see images of Jesus’ crucifixion as well as Cash pouring out a cup of wine, symbolic of Jesus’ pouring out his blood on the cross. The video is just filled with religious imagery and reflects Cash’s own Christian faith.

Watching the video reminded me of what Jesus said to his disciples:

“What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Cash had gained the world. Success, money, possessions, fame. But as he approached death he looked back on all those things and knew that at the end of the day those things were worthless. They were great things, things to be celebrated and  thankful for but he knew he couldn’t take them with him. Cash’s ultimate achievement lay in knowing Jesus, something that would endure longer than the things he achieved in his career and was not worthless but was the ultimately the most valuable thing he had. He died 7 months after shooting this video but he knew where he was going.

My aim wasn’t to belittle the achievements of the students. In fact I went out of my way to say they should be celebrated. But I don’t think we can be doing the gospel justice if we shy away from telling people the reality of what the Bible says. All the things those young people have and will achieve are good things, but without Jesus, they are ultimately worthless.

They might gain the whole world, but what about their souls?

 

In or Out?

I’ve finally finished all of the lessons I was doing in our local secondary school. They were a completely mixed bag and I’m pleased to say that there were actually some more encouraging groups than the ones I mentioned in my previous entry, which is a good thing considering how appalled I was at some of those.

The best groups I had were actually the two lowest ability sets. The school had asked if I could do some shorter sessions with them as they would probably struggle to engage with the subject. The plan was to do 15-20 minutes with them and see how it went. It was the same teacher for both groups. Before the class began she mentioned that when she had told the group a Christian was coming in, they were threatening not to turn up. Tough crowd then! But they did turn up and it was a great experience. They knew that they were just going to have 15-20 minutes and if once that time was up they had lost interest, we’d call it a day.

I was in with both groups for the full hour. The questions just kept on coming and these kids really wrestled with the scenarios we were discussing, bringing in their own experiences, listening to each other and me and re-evaluating as they went along. They were the two easiest lessons I’d done and the most encouraging.

The teacher and the teaching assistant were made up. Apparently some of the kids in the group normally just give one word answers but during this lesson they really took off. It was a great feeling and a really fruitful day with three great consequences.

Firstly, the kids in both group said that I wasn’t what they had been expecting when they heard a Christian was coming in and that I was actually OK, even normal. So it’s great that their preconceived stereotypes have in some way been broken down.

Secondly, the teachers were really encouraged by the whole thing so this will hopefully open the door to be more involved in lessons at the school.

And thirdly, I got to explain the gospel and that’s really what it’s all about. Three birds, one stone!

I’ve also done two assemblies based around Easter. They were probably my most daring to date in terms of stating what the death and resurrection of Jesus means and I probably wasn’t quite as careful as I’m supposed to be in stating what I did. Schools tend to like it if you say something like, “as a Christian, I believe…” as opposed to “this is the way it is,” and I think there was definitely more of the latter. But it was a great chance to share the gospel and I was really pleased with how they went. One of the Christian teachers came up to me afterwards and asked to pray with me about what had been said and also about some things in her family life which was a real privilege. She said that next time I did an assembly it would be great to be prayed for up the front as she thinks it would be good for the kids to see. So in terms of schools work it’s been a good few weeks with plenty of encouragement. Maybe things aren’t quite as bleak as they could be.

Just before I did all these lessons, a man from church asked me how the work was going in the local secondary. I told him that it wasn’t that great generally and things were a bit of struggle there. What he said struck a chord with me. He said that it’s interesting that the apostles did the majority of the their ministry outside of the church, but yet we tend to do most of ours inside the church, with those who already believe. It got me thinking about where our priorities should lie in terms of our ministry. Should we be focusing on the ones we’ve got, building them up an encouraging them or should we be more outsider focused, realising that people are living in spiritual darkness and we need to tell them what Jesus has done? It’s more comfortable on the inside, but maybe the real work needs to be done outside.

 

Great is the Darkness

Over the last few days I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get in to our local secondary school to take a few lessons. The school have been doing some sessions on morality and they wanted to get a Christian in to talk a bit about the effects their faith has on their morality.

I was that Christian.

And very happy to be. I really love getting into the classroom with the students. It doesn’t matter what subject I get asked to speak on you can always guarantee some good discussion. In all honesty I tend to find that unchurched kids ask better questions than the kids in the church youth group. That’s why I love it. People are (for the most part) genuinely thinking through what you’re saying, evaluating it and coming back at you. I love it because, at the very least, it keeps me on my toes instead of getting comfortable and at best it’s a great opportunity to get the gospel into a generation that is growing up with almost no knowledge of Jesus whatsoever.

The basic outline for my lessons was to get the students to define what morals are before brainstorming where we get our  morals from and how they’re formed. Then I would explain a little about where I get my morals from as a Christian and give some basic governing principles that are always in my mind – basically love God and love your neighbour, and how all of God’s commands basically come back to those two ideas. Then I would hand out some scenarios for them to discuss in groups before they fed their thoughts back. I would then be able to explain my response to the situations from a Christian perspective, pointing to some relevant verses and drawing on the 10 commandments as I knew they had already covered those in class. We could then have some discussion around that.

So I did the lessons and I enjoyed them, as I always do, but I have to say I also found them deeply disturbing. At the risk of sounding like an old man, “where are these kids morals”? I was really shocked at the general attitude to the moral dilemmas and I was even shocked that I was shocked by it. I began to wonder whether I’d been working in the church too long, insulated from the reality of the outside world. It just saddened me to hear some of the attitudes to the dilemmas.

The scenarios touched on things like stealing music, drugs, lying in court and abortion and I was shocked at some of the responses. The general attitude was that stealing is OK if you can get away with it and the people are rich, drugs are fine as long as it doesn’t effect me, you can do what you think is wrong if it’s part of your job and abortion is no big deal. The blase attitude that some of the kids talked about abortion as “yeh I’d just kill it,” was just horrific.

Of course when I put some real faces to situations some of their attitudes changed or they at least began to see other points of view to the situations. No-one was happy for poorer people to steal from them, that was out of order. It’s a bit different when the shoes on the other foot. The school also has a special needs school within it’s site and I posed a question or two about who has the right to judge someone’s quality of life as being deserving enough of life or not. The kids in the special needs school all have varying levels of disability and differing qualities of life so I posed the question; where is the cut off point? What boxes need to be ticked before you say no this child won’t have a good quality of life, therefore abortion is preferable.

I think working primarily amongst Christians, flawed though we all are, has lulled me into a a bit of a false sense of security. It’s easy to look around at the church and think ‘yeh, we’re all sinners but we’re not that bad.’ The Holy Spirit is at work in the church and has changed people to be more Christ-like. We’re all far from perfect but people are generally moving forward and becoming more like Christ. When this is what you see all the time, you start to assume that most people are like that, that there are basic levels of morality and even humanity out there.

And of course there are, but there’s also a lot of darkness. Hearing those kids during these lessons drew the community of the church into sharp relief with that of society. It reminded me just how bleak a state the world is in, how sinful it is, how no-one really loves God or their neighbour and what darkness and evil these young people are living their lives in.

The cross has never looked more important.

There is a plus side to all this though. It certainly made me look at the kids in our church youth group through different eyes. It’s so easy to look at some of them and be disappointed and frustrated that they don’t seem to be maturing or ‘getting it’ but when you look at their lives and attitudes next to some of those I’ve witnessed in the last few days God has clearly brought them a long way. It’s an encouragement to see how distinct some of them really are.

As I talked about this with some of my colleagues, one of them also pointed out that the fact that the darkness in the school grieved me so much was a testament to my own walking in the light. And I suppose that’s true. As the Holy Spirit works in us more and more our priorities and values should start to align with God’s. We should love those that God loves and be grieved by the things that grieve God. A personal positive then.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done in that school.

Challenges and Opportunities

Once a year I do a  short talk at the carol service of a local special needs school, which is held in our church building. It’s a fun service, if not a little crazy and this was my second time doing it. The children range from primary school age all the way through to 6th form and all suffer from various forms of learning difficulties and physical disabilities. Some children’s conditions are very severe, others wouldn’t look out of place in an ordinary classroom. And it’s that which really makes it such a difficult talk to do.

The teacher in charge said I should aim it at about the level of a 6 year old. This is tough for me anyway. Normally, I work with 11-18’s and so never really do any work with younger children. If I do, I always find it tough, as that age really isn’t my gifting (I certainly don’t have much patience with them). So was already on the back-foot. Couple this with the fact that I don’t have any experience of working with children with learning difficulties or disability and you can probably understand why it was so daunting for me. It also didn’t help that this year the school had told me I would only need to attend but then I found out a few days ago that wires had been crossed somewhere and actually I would be need to do something. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fact that the kids have problems that bothers me. I’d been briefed beforehand that some kids would just scream and cry throughout, try and make a run for it and such like but that the best thing to do is just let the teachers and carers sort it out and to crack on as if nothing was happening. That was fine. It was the message I struggled with.

I’d planned to show a short video of the nativity that I would narrate and then explain how Jesus had come to rescue us from all the wrong things we had done and why that’s so brilliant. But as the service started I panicked and changed direction. I know this might sound wrong, but I cut out everything to do with us being bad – so the sin effectively. Now I wouldn’t normally do that under any circumstance because our sinfulness and need for rescue is just absolutely central to the gospel message. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell these kids they were sinners because there were children in the room who clearly had no control over the way they behave. Of course, I know they are sinners, we all are and it’s not just our behaviour that can be sinful. But I just couldn’t do it. There were kids in those rooms in wheelchairs, barely conscious and drooling, and that’s who they are, 24/7. There they were with their parents and families and I just felt like I couldn’t get up and basically say they had all gone against God and that’s why they needed Jesus.

So I bottled it and went for something about Jesus being the greatest gift because he never wears out and breaks but will last forever. If we trust in him then we will have eternal life with him in heaven and that basically Jesus loves them. I will quite happily stand up and say that as talks go, it was a low.

But I want to do next year, hopefully with more notice and with more time to think through how to share the gospel with these children. If anything, it made me question my academic, intellectualised, middle class faith. None of those children are ever going to wrestle with Anselm’s theory of atonement, or Luther’s thought on justification by faith alone, but Jesus came to die for them and so in some way, it must be possible for even the most severely disabled to child to put their faith in Jesus. A real childlike faith. Pretty humbling for us middle class educated types talking about whether people have quite “got it” yet.

On the flip side of that today, I had a good chat with my line manager about involvement in our local secondary school. I generally get in a few times a year for a couple of assemblies and am occasionally asked to come and be questioned about the churches view of one topic or another. And I love those classroom sessions. Sure the kids are a bit more rowdy than at church but some of them ask far better questions than my churched kids. It’s a brilliant opportunity to tell the gospel to kids who really haven’t heard it before. Problem is that those sessions are few and far between and I really want to become a heavier presence in the school. So next week I have meeting with the head of R.S. to discuss what I could do. Anyone got any ideas? At the moment I’m pretty much stuck with just asking to get in more regularly. Thoughts would be appreciated.

We also had a good chat about the CU at the school. Basically, there isn’t one. Most of the young people from my youth group go further afield to school and so we have relatively few contacts with youngsters in our local school and those that we do are, well perhaps not the most committed of Christians. They’re mostly still at the stage of not wanting to let their friends know they’re Christian, let alone spend one lunch break a week at a Christian group. How have other people got CU’s off the ground? Is a CU even the way forward? My line manager and I think we need to use the Christian teachers we know there. They will have far more freedom and sway to advertise things and get things done. I’ve got a few on my radar and so I think the next step is to approach them and go from there. The encouraging thing is that as there is currently nothing really happening, I’ve got nothing to lose. I can try various things and see what happens.  Like I said, if anyone with schools work experience is reading this, please chuck some ideas this way as I will happily take them, CU related or not. There’s over 1000 kids in that school and most haven’t heard the gospel so we’ve got to do something.

So it looks like I’ve got a big task ahead but it’s one I’m looking forward to.  I find getting the gospel to un-reached people really exciting and exhilarating and I’ve tended to find that it’s when I step out and take risks for God that I see him do really amazing things. Something to be praying for methinks.