Creating Character?

It's all about the story! 

What do we want our children to care about?

As children grow and take their own places in society, what do we want them to care about? It’s a big issue – which is why Barnabas in Schools has crafted two special RE Days called ‘Creating Character’ about either ‘Friendship, Forgiveness and Peace’ or ‘Compassion, Service and Community’.

How can a Bible story explain friendship?

Recently, I visited a school in a Northumberland ‘pit’ town whose mine closed in the 1980s, to work with pupils over two days on ‘Friendship’. Could Bible stories speak in a place where there’s so much family breakdown and deprivation? 

I started each session by showing the model of a small figure sitting on a desert island, surrounded by the sea. What would that person need, to be able to live? Food, fresh water, shelter, of course – but then what? And so we talked about needing other people around us for company. But what can we do when arguments spoil our families and friendships at home or in school?

With that cue, we entered the classic Bible story of Joseph’s tangled relationship with his jealous brothers. The children were fascinated. Oh, they were so sympathetic to his brothers who hated this young upstart who was his father’s favourite – but then were genuinely surprised to see forgiveness appearing in the story towards the end, as the brothers’ attitudes to each other changed.

‘I think he was forgiving them at the end, when he started crying.’
‘I think they learned to forgive their father for having a favourite.’

What about all the shenanigans with the hidden cup in Benjamin’s bag?

‘He was tricking them to make them good!’

Afterwards, one Y2 teacher said directly to her class.

‘Now listen, we’ve had a few people falling out with each other at playtimes, and when I asked why, some say it all began with something that happened when they were in Reception class! I’m so glad we’ve heard this story today – we’ve got to do some thinking about forgiveness, haven’t we?’

There were many nods of recognition. That’s how it works – by sharing the stories and making the connections today. Simple really, isn’t it?

Written by Chris Hudson, Barnabas in Schools team
School children at RE day

What can you do next?

Pray for the work of Barnabas in Schools.

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