Your church probably reaches out to children through teaching Scripture classes in public schools, or an AWANA club, or the occasional holiday Bible club. You might already be involved in one of these outreaches. If you’re not, perhaps you should! Here’s a couple statistics to think about:
1. More than 70% of Australian Protestant church-goers said they became Christian under the age of 20. (National Church Life Survey, 2001)
2. In 2007 there were almost 2 million children in government and non-government schools across Australia. Almost 100% of under 15 year olds are in school. But less than 7% of children are part of a church. (Baptist Union NSW)
Do you see a need here?
If you already work in children’s ministry, point #1 indicates that your ministry can provide valuable means for evangelism and discipleship. Keep up the good work! But we must do more to reach the hundreds of thousands of children and teens who do not attend any church regularly.
I believe teaching Scripture in the public schools represents one of the best opportunities to reach the majority of Australia’s youth with the Gospel. Consider:
- Most of your students do not attend church and have not professed Christ, so you are on the front line of evangelism.
- The Gospel seed you sow may be the only seed they receive during the most formative time of their lives.
- For about 30 minutes each week, your purpose is to teach Bible curriculum to your students. Over the course of a school year, it’s enough time to systematically present the Gospel and to build relationships.
- By teaching the Word in the school environment, you can help students to apply the Bible to the worldview taught in other classes.
Special Religious Education varies in each state and schools are generally less supportive of SRE than in the past. Eventually this “open door” might be closed, as our communities become more secular and activists seek to remove SRE from schools.
Who can be involved? Obviously, you must be able to teach and manage a class of children. Helpers are also welcome. SRE volunteers must be approved through their church. Since SRE occurs during the day, you must also have the flexibility to teach during that time.
Teaching SRE is not just for pastors or professionals. I see retirees, part-time workers, and stay-at-home mums serving as SRE volunteers. They understand the real need is in public schools, where over 90% of children have no connection with church. They enjoy teaching lessons and encouraging students. And they are sowing seeds that will bear fruit in many hearts.
And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37