My parents sent me to Church of England Scripture because that was the religion they hand-wrote on my school enrolment form before I started school in February 1988. They’d never actually taken me to the local church. But culturally, they identified as ‘Church of England’ and so it went on the form!
The world was different back then in so many ways. My parents had one car, one TV and no computer (apart from my brother’s Commodore 64 gaming system). There were no mobile phones, no internet, and no social media. Just like the world has changed, SRE has changed a lot in the last 35 years as well.
This year, the SRE enrolment question has been added to the Online Enrolment System for every school.1 Parents have the choice to look at the list of SRE and Ethics options in their schools and choose for themselves which program they would like their child to attend.
For Christian parents, I hope this decision is a no-brainer! But in this article, I want to suggest a few more ways that we can support SRE in our local schools.
I don’t want to take for granted that Christian parents have all chosen to enrol their children in Christian SRE. It’s sad to say, but I know of several instances (mostly in high school) where this is not the case. If you are thinking of not enrolling your child in Christian SRE because ‘they learn enough about it at church’, please reconsider.
I was the kid in class who did not go to church. I was the kid in class whose first memories of Bible stories aren’t from bedtime Bible reading routines with my parents. My first Bible memory comes from Kindy Scripture where we walked around the classroom and re-enacted the fall of Jericho. My first understanding of the gospel came from years and years of teachers coming and faithfully teaching the SRE curriculum.
But, if all the church going kids didn’t go to class with me, whom would I have sat with to learn the truths from the Bible that I didn’t get at church or at home?
And as for teenagers, I am yet to see a family who has decided to pull their child out of High School SRE do so because the child is thriving as a Christian. Often, it’s the opposite. Is there a deeper issue that you and your teenage child can be working through in their faith which is only presenting on the surface as not wanting to go to SRE lessons anymore?
Action point: Make sure your child is enrolled in Christian SRE.
SRE teaching is a lonely ministry. It seems strange to say this when you can be surrounded with 20–28 students in a class at the one time, but hear me out! When you go into the classroom, you are the only person there with the purposes of teaching the Bible. The kids might be there because their friends are, or because their parents made them, or because 9 am on Tuesday is ‘always’ Scripture time. (True, they might actually be there because they like it, too!)
When I was a paid SRE teacher in the local high school, I used to ask my church supporters to pray, pray, pray! I even set up a Facebook group to ask for ‘urgent’ prayer points throughout the day.
I wonder if you might have a network of other Christian parents who send kids to the local school whom you can meet up with once a term and pray for the school together?
Action Point: Find out what day and time your kids’ SRE classes are on and pray for them, their friends and their teachers.
This follows on from the last action point. How are you going to find out what time your child’s class is on, and who their teacher is if you don’t ask!
This is easier if your church is the one sending teachers into the school—you can find out from your church’s SRE coordinator which teacher is assigned to your child’s class. But you, like me, might send your child to a school outside of your parish’s boundaries.
This might require you to do a little digging! You could ask your school which church sends SRE teachers into your school or look at their website. Or, you could call the local churches in the area and ask. Or, there is a chance that your ministers talk to the other ministers in neighbouring parishes and they might know. And, as always, your friendly Youthworks SRE advisor might be able to help as well.
Connecting with your local teacher is so powerful! I once had an email that was sent to me from a grandmother who lived on the other side of Sydney. She was so thankful that I taught her grandsons about Jesus and, as a result of hearing them share all they’d learned in Scripture (the Bible wasn’t taught in their home), she had decided to start teaching Scripture in her local area, too!
Action Point: Find out who is teaching your child’s SRE class and let them know you’re praying for them this year!
There are so many practical ways you can support SRE! The two main categories I can think of are with your financial resources and with your time.
Some SRE providers send a request home to parents to ask them to pay for the children’s books. Other providers give them to the children for free, not wanting money to become a barrier to kids accessing teaching from the Bible. Most churches put SRE as a line-item in their yearly budget, although some have set up a specialised tax-deductible fund for SRE that parishioners can give to.
The SRE team in my sons’ school pays for a number of additional resources every year for the kids. They have a Quizworx puppet show come along at Easter and Christmas every year. They also generously provide take-home Bibles to the kids in Year 3 and Year 6. This is absolutely over and above provision for Scripture, and I am sure it is because of the generosity of people in their parish who see the wonderful opportunity that SRE is.
Your church might also participate in an SRE board to employ a high school SRE teacher. These boards rely on generous donations to keep employing the teachers. Is this something you could be a part of?
You might not have financial capacity, but you might have time. Have you ever considered becoming an SRE helper? You don’t have to teach the class—you can go alongside the classroom teacher and be a backup in the room, helping kids with their bookwork and answering their questions. Your SRE provider can let you know what you would need to do to be able to become one. Even if you can’t commit to going every single week, being present when you can will make a difference.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage parents to give teaching SRE a go! When I taught my son’s class a few years ago, it opened up so many opportunities to talk to parents about things to do with God, Jesus and the Bible. It also meant that some parents felt like they could come to me with their questions, too!
Action point: Consider how you can support SRE with your time or financial means.
A few elections ago, there was an SRE campaign called ‘Thank an MP for SRE’. I loved it for its simplicity. Do you know how rarely politicians are thanked for anything? (Now you might think this is rightly so!) Can you imagine the impact it would have on your local state politician to know that there is a large community of people who value SRE and are thankful for their support of it?
You can also advocate on the P&C level. This year, my son is starting a new school and I plan to be at every P&C meeting, keeping an ear out for any complaints about Scripture and making sure there is a voice that will talk about how important it is.
This last one might be the scariest—are you willing to talk to other parents about Scripture? Are you willing to talk about how much your child loves it? Are you willing to invite your child’s friends to your church’s kids’ club even if you know they don’t go to SRE (I’ve had the joy of teaching lots of my sons’ friends about Jesus this way even though I didn’t get the chance to do so at school).
Action point: who can you talk to about the value of Scripture?
There are so many ways that parents can be powerful and effective supporters of Scripture in our local schools!
 Hopefully, your church’s local SRE coordinator was able to liaise with your school to make sure this question was part of your child’s enrolment process. If not, please reach out to Youthworks Ministry Support to help you!
Before training for ministry, Jenn taught courses in English Literature, History and Cultural Studies at universities in Australia and China. Jenn's ministry passion and experience is in SRE. She lives and serves in the South of Sydney with her husband and two children.
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