This is prob a bit long.
We moved to where we live about 2 years ago. Since then me and dd are weekly church goers admittedly mainly because I know the best secondary in the area admits solely on faith attendance and 7 years weekly is pretty much a guarantee. Don't want a debate about the system - it could change in a year (dd is 4 so relying on the law letting faith admission remain for another 6 years which I doubt but will work on that basis till I hear otherwise).
I have been part of crèche (0-3) for about a year - do it 2 put of 4 services - dd after 3 went up to Sunday school.
All Sunday school leaders have resigned. I volunteered - happy to help, live being with kids, craft, music, games my natural habitat. Am also a theology graduate so bible knowledge not shabby.
Vicar asked at Sunday service for all volunteers to pray if they had real ministry to do - I know I am the only volunteer - I don't know what to do now having already volunteered and no-one approach me personally. If I don't we will move church dd can't sit without youth groups from 4 onwards but I can 't claim ministry I just like working/ playing with children.
This is prob too long and confused even for a response - my feeling now is to move as if I put myself out there and then the public call for prayer: volunteers was a subtle no?
I don't actually understand- but frankly you lost me when you said you are only going to church of schools. I find that deeply unpleasant.
They want more people to share the load?
They probably need more volunteers than just you, surely?
Deeply unpleasant a bit harsh - we can't afford private or to move to a better catchment - grammar possible but would involve tutors and I am unconvinced by that route.
By the time dd would go to the secondary school we would have attended 8 x 52 services - if that is the criteria no different to tutoring. The church set the criteria we are merely complying.
Anyway we would prob attend anyway but more high days and holy days.
Prob not right forum - I just considering persevering - I think if kids are going to church there should be specific provision for them so it is a meaningful experience bit not wanting to push forward if not the right person.
I don't actually understand what the vicar said, how it affects you, sorry. Could you clarify?
Btw I fully understand about church going for schools, it's hugely common behaviour, I don't think Jesus minds what reason it is that gets you to church as long as you are pure of heart in the presence of God.
How well do you know the vicar? If this was me, I'd have a chat with him directly about it. Ours is pretty reasonable though!
I think if you love being with the kids then you should volunteer. 'Having a ministry' is church-speak for 'only do it if you really have something to give' -- which it sounds like you do.
" I don't think Jesus minds what reason it is that gets you to church as long as you are pure of heart in the presence of God."
I'd be a bit worried about this church. Why did all the Sunday school leaders resign?
Then if I read correctly, you were the only person to volunteer; the vicar then asked 'all volunteers' (ie you) to pray if you had a 'real ministry' to do it. Well, maybe he was trying to be scrupulous that you didnt feel pressured into doing it or something but it sounds a bit of an odd approach.
Personally I'm a supporter of the Fair Admissions campaign, but I don't blame parents like you for the system (which I suspect will still be in place 6 years hence) - if this church has no provision for children (WWJD?!), you might find that if you just go to a service or something like a prayer meeting without your DD that counts as attendance.
Hakluyt - so what is your view - 8 years is a pretty fair run to convince someone. Our local churches advertise as give us a go.
I think the current leaders resigned to coincide with a rector who had children leaving for a new parish. This left Sunday school with no kudos of including the rector's children. It is an abbey church and the congregation is skewed towards the elderly.
I am an employment lawyer and following advances in that area I question whether faith based admission will survive.
Thanks for the reply - I'd like to do it just not sure if I am getting a subtle back off!
Ah I see. You think the vicar meant 'are you doing this for the right reasons'?
Tricky! Do you actually believe in God? Does he think that perhaps you don't?
I've been involved with church and church schools and known several vicars who sniff out the cynics amongst the congregation and take exception to their presence, when it is obvious there is an agenda, such as school places.
Mm is v frustrating typed v long answer now lost.
We've attended weekly for a couple of years - school thing maybe a distraction in that it is a motivation to go weekly but we would attend anyway but maybe not so frequently. He would be pretty suspicious given average parents for school attend at 8+ and we have been there since 2.
I believe in God - I have an academic approach to other aspects of Christian doctrine and history.
Is it enough to want to teach/ play with Sunday club or do you need a real ministry which I don't have ?
If you believe in God and like being with the children this is very good. The question to ask yourself perhaps, is something along the lines of 'do I care about these children from the point of view of nurturing their relationship to God?"
Ie, do I want to light a flame in their hearts toward God..do I want to help enliven their awareness of spiritual values?
It could be that you are currently unaware of your highest wishes behind the contribution that you are making.
I'd smile nod and carry on. All vicars know there are people at church for all sorts of reasons, schools, friendship, music (DD1). Faith is often a very very long way down the list.
Sensible ones, know to keep well out of it, if they want their church to function.
I suspect a lot of Sunday school helpers help, to avoid the sermon.
Non believers like DD1 often feel most honour bound to turn up and put on a good show.
Hi, not sure if you are still struggling with this or have resolved it, as I only just saw the thread. I did wonder if it was possible to tell from context what the vicar meant - was he urging volunteers to take on more ministry (leading lay-led service, for example?), or asking them to question whether they actually had a real "calling", if you like, to their current work - the first one sounds more likely to me (not knowing the context at all) and is not questioning of you in any way - in fact, if you are the only volunteer, you could see it as a compliment.
I also wanted to say that there are many different types of Christian involved in God's work. I very much see my faith as central to mine and my family's life, and yet I guess I am what people would call a liberal Christian - I'm a divorcee, pro Gay rights, not anti sex before marriage, etc etc etc. Many of the people I undertake children's work alongside have a very different interpretation of faith, I am confident. And yet, we all do the same work for the Church. If you believe in God and feel you can make a positive contribution to the church through your work, then maybe that is enough. Possibly the school hing is a bit of a red herring, as you say you would go to church anyway, just possibly not quite so often!
Good luck, whatever you decide.
Can I suggest you talk to the vicar about youth work? The suggestion that volunteers pray over whether what they are doing at the moment is real ministry could be something or nothing especially as the Rector has moved on. It could be code for something or it might just be slopping phrasing and you don't know until you ask. Personally I'd bite the hand of any volunteer for youth work who liked being with children and has a theology degree but I'd be concerned if you were the only one as it is a huge commitment and everyone needs weeks off and wriggle room when the children or you are ill. Teams are best in this sort of work.
You say you are an Abbey style church. As a general rule these sorts of churches have fuzzy boundaries and one of their huge strengths is that people can explore faith rather than having to sign up to a statement of belief in order to join. It isn't as if you are a non Christian blagging their way in to get a place at a faith based school but someone who does have a faith so I'm not seeing much of a problem.
Back when my children were very tiny I volunteered to help out with the youth group at the church. As it turned out three of the volunteers ended up with children at the faith based local comprehensive. Two of us are now ordained and another one is in the process of becoming a priest. Working with children and youth is great for looking at what you believe and growing as a Christian.
Sorry should have said volunteering for Sunday school not youth work.
God this is what I hate about Christianity tbh - had no idea I felt this way until I experienced Judaism (did not convert). in Judaism it's obviously ideal to do things because you feel sincerely that you want to, but doing things is recognised as a lot better than not doing them. So, if a person gives money or does a good thing, but does it grumpily and reluctantly, the value of the gift or the good thing is still there and still valid. In Christianity it's always 'but do you really FEEL it' and if you don't feel it in your heart, it's somehow completely invalid. It's the dark side of the faith vs works theology - when the reality is that works can and should lead to faith (I'm not much of a Protestant despite always having been one whenever I did believe). Leads to us all chasing our tails and constantly navel gazing IMO. Sometimes just getting on with it and doing it is much more important. St Teresa suffered from spiritual desolation/lack of faith for 20 years and still just kept on keeping on.
I think the vicar should be damn grateful for your time and expertise that NOBODY ELSE has felt spiritually moved to provide. Maybe ask them straight out what they/the PCC want from the Sunday School - I suppose they do want to have one?
On the flip side the vicar might actually be very thankful for what you do now and thinks you might like to take your work further...
Just a thought I had, on reading the initial post.
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