Have you put SRE on the fringe?

Jon Thorpe

As the local church we commit a lot of time to finding new ways to connect with our community in the hope of sharing our lives and the gospel; we plan events, we organise events, we advertise events, we run events- and then we do it all again. We are genuinely thankful for the twenty new people who came along and we pray that God will use our words to make a difference in their life. In all our plans to connect I wonder where we put SRE? Every week we have the opportunity to tell hundreds of students about the religion of their family, about the true and living God who loves them and Jesus who died and rose again and the hope of heaven, and so much more. It is a wonderful ministry and yet for some reason it sits out of sight and out of mind.

We have just completed running the SRE Conference for 2013 and it has been fantastic to meet the teachers and hear the stories of how God is working and changing lives. At the same time I also heard that many teachers feel on the fringe. They are working hard as a team, and the coordinator is working hard to support them, but they don’t feel a strong sense of being sent out or partnered together with the bigger church family. As churches we seem so excited about connecting with 20 people at an event and so complacent about connecting with hundreds of students in our schools.

We know that SRE is an important ministry for the local church; we have over 2000 teachers in our diocese and churches are committing significant financial resources. We also know it is making a difference; in the last available NCLS statistics (2006) 10% of respondents identified SRE as the most significant influence in their coming to faith. The question is how do we rekindle our love and concern for a ministry that is so familiar?

A few thoughts
• It has to start with a gospel concern. We have something wonderful and eternally significant to say to our young people and if we love them we need to go and say it.
• Introduce the teachers and pray for them.  
• Give regular updates from the front about what is happening in SRE.
• Profile an SRE teacher periodically in your newsletter
• Have a poster of your SRE teachers on the notice board
• Include SRE in the prayer time each week
• Include SRE in your prayer points for your church

I know there are a lot of great ministries vying for attention in the busyness of church life but this is a particularly significant opportunity to reach out to our community. The ideas above aren’t unique or difficult to implement and they won’t change the profile of SRE overnight. They will bring SRE back from the fringe of our collective church consciousness and that will mean more prayer, more support for our teachers and more gospel impact for our effort.

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