Dis-abilities? Wellness, children and young people, and the church.

Dis-abilities? Wellness, children and young people, and the church.

Children YOUTH AND COMMUNITY

How do we support children and young people who have a spectrum of physical and mental health needs and disabilities? This is a challenge faced by many of those involved in delivering youth and community work through churches and Christian organisations.

We have organised a training day that will provide an opportunity to look at some specific issues faced by children and young people with physical and mental health needs and disabilities. It will also explain the Scottish legislative framework and explore how we might offer a more welcoming and inclusive church environment for such children, young people and their families. Understanding the language of ‘wellbeing’ and GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) from the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will help you to engage with colleagues and partners from social services and other bodies that have a role in supporting children and young people in their communities. You will leave with practical ideas for making the environments in which you meet children and young people more welcoming and supportive.

The morning sessions will be led by Fiona Williams, who works as an Educational Psychologist for Glasgow City Council Education Services. She will speak in two sessions:
* Getting It Right For Every Child and young person in Scotland: the potential contribution of church workers
* Psychological issues facing young people: what can I do?

Afternoon seminars will include the following topics:
* The language- and communication-friendly church
* The socially- and emotionally-friendly church
* The accessible church
* Supporting those with mental health issues

We want to encourage you to bring a team of staff and volunteers from your church, and so we are offering a three for the price of two policy on the tickets.

We will be running this event on Friday 28th April from 10am – 4pm at Stirling Baptist Church, 67 Murray Place, Stirling FK8 1AU (the planned event in Glasgow on 29th April has been postponed).

Lunch and refreshments are included in the conference ticket price.

Book now.

Teaching Children or Teaching Children?

Teaching Children or Teaching Children?

Children YOUTH AND COMMUNITY

I have a confession to make. Over the last couple of years I have undergone a conversion experience.  This should not be a surprise, because as Christians we should always be going through a process of conversion and change to be more Christlike. But, if we are honest with ourselves, after turning to Christ we tend to go through a rapid process of change and conversion which over time seems to slow down and in many cases comes to a halt.  This particular conversion experience is noteworthy for me because it relates to the role of children in the Church and is a lesson I should have learned a long time ago.

When I started in youth work, I was a passionate advocate that young people should be active participants in the Church, not just in the sense of having a sense of belonging but also in the sense of being part of the decision-making, influencing the direction of the Church and being involved in the various ministries of the Church – praying for people, leading services, etc.  However, whilst I had a firm commitment to this level of participation for the young people (roughly defined as 11+), I had a contrasting view about children (under 11s).  My view of children was more like the ’empty vessel’ approach, that children were not active contributors but rather empty vessels to be filled with biblical knowledge at an age-appropriate level.

These differing and somewhat contrasting views make no sense.  I am not sure what effect I thought that puberty, or the transition to Secondary School, would have that would transform these children from passive recipients of ministry into active contributors to the life and worship of the Church.

  • Are these children not also made in the image of God and demonstrating something of who He is (Gen 1:27)?
  • Are these children not supposed to be our role models (Matt 18:2-3)?
  • In the Bible, are we not given the example of Eli, who having just been weaned, was “serving the Lord under the supervision of Eli the priest” (1 Samuel 2:11)?

In many of our churches we do not provide opportunities for children to minister/serve, but rather we are often scrambling around looking for volunteers who can serve them, and such volunteers are often destined to do this by running programmes in a separate hall away from the rest of the congregation.

For most of us as adults, this has suited us.  It means that we can worship in a passive way during our church services, sitting quietly during prayers, sitting listening to sermons, and only speaking when singing a hymn or saying a piece of liturgy where we simply say/sing what is prescribed for us.  If as part of our worship together we engage children as active contributors and worshippers, asking them for their testimonies of what God is doing, etc, or their interpretation on particular passages, then maybe the children can be teaching us rather than assuming that we need to be teaching children.

In my local church, we are in what may be considered an enviable situation. In the next couple of months it is anticipated that we may have more children than adults attending our church on a Sunday morning.  In this situation, where more people are leaving the service than are staying, we may need to re-think how we arrange our services and so consider our children as ‘teaching children’ rather than teaching children elsewhere.

At SSCM, we have a commitment to supporting work with children and are developing a number of new programmes.  From September 2016, we are planning to offer an HNC in Childhood Practice.  This programme can be taken either over one year (attending classes all day on a Thursday) or over two years (attending Thursday mornings only) and is suited for anyone who is either currently working with or in the future hopes to work with children, either as a career or as a volunteer.  For more information, please complete our ‘Intent to Study’ form, stating you are interested in the HNC in Childhood Practice, or call the office on 0141 552 4040.