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I was privileged to give the Bible talks at the Youthworks ‘House’ conference for children’s and youth ministers back in May. In the queue to get our name tags, I talked to a bloke I’d never met before. Turned out he was a Youthworks employee. As we got talking I asked a question I’m always interested to hear an answer for: how did you become a Christian?
He answered that it was through SRE (Special Religious Education, also known as ‘Scripture’ in schools). In his case, he came from a Christian family, and he’d heard the Bible taught at church. But for whatever reason, it had just seemed like stories. He said it was his Scripture teacher who had helped him see that God loved him personally, that Christ had died for him, and that made it all real!
Praise God. I’m sure his parents did! Because that’s exactly how SRE is supposed to work: educating kids in the faith that their parents have nominated for them to attend in SRE. Sometimes the parents’ faith affiliation may only be nominal, but it is still often important that their children learn something of God and his ways like they did when they were younger.
Notwithstanding opposition from a vocal minority lobby group, God continues to leave the door open for the teaching of SRE in NSW. In fact, the independent review commissioned by the NSW government was very positive about its status. It reported that in 2015, SRE classes were held in 92% of primary schools, and 81% of secondary schools.
The clear majority (84%) of parents who responded to its online survey were satisfied or mostly satisfied with their child’s learning experience in SRE lessons. The review also supplied a few useful suggestions for improvements. It was evident leading the review that the Anglicans were near the front in terms of maintaining high standards.
It is a wonderful opportunity. I wonder if you might be interested in supporting SRE? Would you be interested in training as a volunteer classroom teacher or helper?
Maybe you are a parent of children in public schools. Maybe you’re a teacher only working part time, or just retired, or taking a break while you raise your own children (regardless of what school they go to). Or maybe a trainee teacher at uni. Maybe you’re a professional whose workplace allows flexi-time (e.g. we’ve had men who are engineers, surgeons, lawyers and council workers all get an hour or two off to teach SRE over the last decade).
Of course, you need to hold a current Working With Children Check clearance and safe ministry training. Then there is some basic Youthworks accreditation training (5 x 2 hour seminars) but recognition of prior learning (RPL) is often available for parts of it. And you are supplied with a professionally designed curriculum and resources to use. And you can often begin partnered with an experienced teacher if needed.
Maybe you don’t want to teach (at least not yet). Could you be a classroom helper (less accreditation training required)? Could you provide child-minding for another potential teacher’s kids, for a couple of hours while that person teaches? Could you prepare resources (e.g. craft), or become a prayer buddy for an SRE teacher?
Colossians 4:5 says to make the most of every opportunity! Would you consider taking an extra step of support for SRE that together we can make the most of this opportunity?