I am running this week an Easter Seminar in a local public primary school. We have also had in our local area a small team of people running Christian Seminars over many years. Sadly, this year there are no volunteers for this team. Over the 30 years I have been bringing Christian witness into public schools, I note three things are happening. Firstly, there is increasing resistance to run Christian seminars. There is provision in the Education Act for ‘a maximum of one-half day in each term to be set aside for the churches desiring to participate to hold seminars or gatherings’. It is the Principal, often in partnership with Governing Council who greenlight a seminar. The resistance comes because the school calendar is too full or a vocal minority from either staff or parents make complaint.
Secondly, the churches are not offering school seminars. Seminars are either run by local pastors and volunteers, a school chaplain, or provided for a fee through external agencies. In our area we do not (yet) have pastors or volunteers to run seminars, so we look to our 3 chaplains and agencies to resource a seminar. This reduces involvement to 3 schools, and limited finances dictate if a seminar is offered.
Finally, children and young people do not know the true story of Easter. Because of this our focus is on telling the historical story and what Christians understand from it. In one year, if a school gives permission, we may get two 45-minute seminars to communicate the Christian story to the students who opt-in. We know this is difficult to do, when we have children attend our Kids Church or youth group each week. How fragile then is this casting of the kingdom seed in our public schools? But it is better than not casting any seed at all.
I think bringing the good news of Jesus to children and young people matters. We value your prayers as we take gospel responsibility for our local area schools. If you teach or have children or grandchildren in public schools, support the chaplain and churches through your advocacy. Pray we have more great chaplains in our local schools. Pray God will give us favour with school leadership and communities. May we take every opportunity we can.