Thursday, 26 September 2013

Christmas Story Resources

We are heading into Term 4 here in Australia so it is time to start thinking about how we might tell the Christmas story really well. That means it is time to start searching Youtube for any great videos that are around.

This  one is from St Paul's Church Auckland. It is a few years old but still very engaging. It uses children to tell the story.

This quirky but brilliant video was also made by St Paul's. It goes behind the scenes to unpack in a kid friendly way some of the theology behind the incarnation.

Enjoy the videos and check back for more Advent and Christmas resources.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Student Feedback

Soon it will be time for Australian schools to wind down and head into those golden Summer holidays, but as part of the end of year process, how often do you take the time to obtain feedback from students and staff about Chapel and Religious Education classes?  Some leaders shy away from obtaining feedback because they fear criticism or that students "won't take it seriously".  In my experience, students usually enjoy completing surveys when they believe their comments will be taken seriously and genuinely contribute to refinements and improvements in the years to follow.
Here is a genuine extract from feedback written by a Year 11 high school student at a Church-affiliated school this week...
Q: How do you feel about Chapel services at your school?
At my school, we have only one 15minute chapel service a week. For me, I enjoy being in the chapel. It is a really relaxing place where you can contemplate and reflect. Often, services are focused on events that are occurring within the school, such as the 40 hour famine, or events happening around the world, such as floods and droughts in third world countries, or the current conflict in Syria. I find that this focus makes me really understand how lucky I am to be living in Australia, with good health and access to education. I also enjoy that we often have a musical performance at the end of the service. I do not enjoy as much the services that we do each year, such as celebrations during Easter and Lent, as the services are a bit repetitive.

 Q: How do you feel about religion classes?
In religion, we explore other religions and issues in the world. Some previous topics we have looked at include minority religious groups, such as Jedi and Population Control, which was interesting. We also researched injustice around the world. The research is really interesting, but we then need to do a presentation to the class. It is often really boring to make, present, and then listen to other groups.  Our current topic is whether we are the controllers of our destiny. We watched the Adjustment Bureau, and had class discussions. It was a very interesting and thought provoking topic. I quite enjoy religion in my school, but I have friends in other schools who have over 6 hours of religion lessons a week, which they find quite challenging.

Questions like "Which Chapel services do you remember most clearly from this year, and why?" are always likely to generate useful feedback and minimise silly, off-topic responses.  How about taking some time towards the end of the year to set up a feedback box in each class, and then have the teacher lead discussion on interesting points raised by the students, to see if there are common threads and understand the responses better.

In short, don't be afraid of asking for feedback - but plan instead how you could go about gathering it in a comprehensive, time-efficient manner which produces useful stimulus for your planning for next year.  It will be a sound investment in improving what you do.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Six Word Stories

At a recent chaplains meeting someone put forward the idea of six word stories as a technique for getting students engaging with the Bible. I love this idea. It is like a non poetry form of Haiku. Check out the video above for some very interesting six word stories as well as where it all began. There are other great six word videos on youtube. I wonder how stories we know from the Bible might be turned into a six word story? How about some of these I found on-line for starters:

Five loaves, two fishes, fed everyone.

Wasteful son comes back, father celebrates.

Jesus Christ helped us by dying.

Bread is body, wine is blood.

Part a sea, set us free.

Jesus resurrected from the dead, Friday.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

It's All About Me

Challenging the me-centric culture of our day is tough, especially when kids are told so often how 'special' they are. Often worship can suffer the same disease, as we concentrate on how we feel, how positive our experience is, what we are getting out of it. 

This 90 second video aims to do something about this.

As the synopsis goes,
 "This parody expresses the foolishness of worshipping ourselves. An egocentric worship leader sings familiar praise and worship songs, but with a selfish twist. Your congregation will laugh and reflect on their worship towards the Lord."
Okay, so maybe they'll laugh.  But it provides a good stimulus piece to talk about the nature of 'giving God what God is worth', in other words, worship.