Case Study: Secret Mission - Key Stage One RE
Rob Steward, a development worker for Scripture Union in the north-west of England, leads a project called Secret Mission. Set up in Fleetwood in 2013, Secret Mission grew out of a desire to reach out to local schools and serve them in different ways. After a successful
2012, in which churches worked with schools around the time of the Olympic Games, Secret Mission was developed to help meet the needs of Key Stage One RE. The project aims to introduce children to events from the life of Jesus and investigate what they teach us about God. Rob takes up the story
Imagine the scene: 60 energetic five year-olds, a school in Fleetwood and eight enthusiastic volunteers. This was the birth of Secret Mission. Of course the story starts before then, when a few churches started to chat about how they could work more closely together to grow links with their local schools and support the teaching of Christianity in KS1 classes. A few months later, after planning, praying and sharing the vision, Secret Mission began.
Secret Mission is, at its core, an RE morning for KS1 children that engages them with the question ‘What is God like?’ In reality, it is so much more: a twohour, fun-filled, thought-provoking, messy glimpse at the life of Jesus. It dovetails nicely with the RE curriculum of many schools. Each session begins with a story from the Gospels before moving into a craft or an activity based on the story. Four stories are explored during the sessions, they are: Jesus the friend (Zaccheaus), Jesus the teacher (the lost sheep and coin), Jesus the miracle man (calming the storm) and Jesus the healer (Jesus heals a lame man).
It is fair to say that if you want an all-singing, all-dancing, technology-filled project that includes juggling, fire eating and live reptiles then this isn’t it! Secret Mission was written to be simple, it was written to be replicable and it was ultimately written so that anyone passionate about children’s ministry and their local schools could pick it up, adapt it and run it. For me, the key to Secret Mission is its simplicity, making it easy to run and easier to recruit volunteers.
The schools in Fleetwood which we visited loved it and we are now seeking to grow Secret Mission in Fleetwood and pass it on to other villages, towns and cities. Since 2013, it has been run in five other towns in the North-West and one school in Wales. As part of this growth, I have had the privilege of meeting many children as they explored these stories about Jesus. They had lots to say about what they were discovering: ‘We learned stories about Jesus’, ‘I love making fluffy sheep and how the cotton wool covers my fingers’, ‘Do you think Jesus really made the waves stop?’
Team members commented on how much fun they had. My heart for the project is for more churches to take the resource and use it as atool to help schools in their RE. At the same time I would love to see churches use this to develop their relationships with local primary schools.
The project is constantly evolving as we run it. A colleague, Matt Lewis, has recently started helping a church in Wales to run Secret Mission. He says, ‘I have been pushing it with churches and there is a hunger for it.’ A 5-year-old from Liverpool said, ‘It was the best day of my life!’ Now, I like Secret Mission but will concede that maybe that is a bit of an overreaction! However, the feedback from churches, schools and children has been good. As a former teacher and RE coordinator myself, I can see how it meets the needs of KS1 RE. It has proved to be a good resource that can be used as we seek to serve our local schools.
How to run Secret Mission in your local school:
1. Email robs@scriptureunion. org.uk for a copy of the project. He can also point you in the direction of your local Scripture Union development worker who can support and help you as you seek to run the project.
2. Approach your local school about the project. See what they think.
3. Gather a small team of willing volunteers (between four and eight) who like children, can run a small activity and smile! How about asking other churches if they would partner with you?
4. Run a ‘training session’ for the team. 5. Gather the resources, get lots of biscuits for the team, pray like mad and run the project!