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Schools Blog

How to do Assemblies...

It’s Monday morning. You stand there looking lost and you find 500 pairs of eyes are on you waiting to see if you’re as boring as the last visitor…yes, you’ve guessed it: you’re in an assembly for the first time and you have ten minutes to impart wisdom and gospel…

Well, as someone who has put himself through this for many years, I feel I can say to you ‘Don’t panic!’ Here are some basics to get you started (as, hopefully, you will have had some warning before you stand up in front of the kids!). I am not going to give you topics but guidelines of the ‘how to’ variety…

Assemblies are part of the requirements of all schools. ‘Daily collective worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ (DfES 2002). Many head teachers struggle to make sense of what that means so here’s some tips/guidelines you can use as the basis of how to bring assemblies which address this requirement and, more importantly, can help dispel some of the myths about Christianity and Christians! (like we’re boring and dull!)

You are invited to take assemblies on the school’s terms. It isn’t the place to preach, make converts or to ‘advertise’ your church (although you can talk about holiday clubs, etc…) Use phrases like ‘as a Christian I believe’ or ‘Christians believe’…

What you do when in an assembly is not going to work well if you haven’t prepared well. What are you going to say? (keep it simple!); How are you going to say it?; What is the theme of your assembly (have only ONE, please!) and check that it fits with any topic the school may want you to address! (but be prepared for some interesting topics to be thrown your way!) Take a look at the worksheets at the bottom of the page for some top tips on preparing your own assemblies.

Your preparation MUST include lots of prayer (although prayer will happen during an assembly, too (as in ‘HELP Lord’!) God loves these children – and staff (even when they talk through your assembly!)

Particularly in primary school assemblies. It is SO vital not to just talk. Having something to hold up or use to illustrate, always helps to hold attention and helps them to listen and remember!

Don’t assume the children know anything, especially about the Bible. Try to remember people from your past who inspired you in their teaching. Children do want to know, they don’t want to be bored! You only get a short time in assembly. So…

Please DON’T talk AT children (even little ones) Share with them. They don’t want to be lectured about ancient Hebrew texts. Think about how they experience the world today. TV, CD, DVD, video, PCs…the world is exciting and your assembly can be. We have the gospel (GOOD NEWS) – they deserve to hear it well and not be turned off by the messenger!

The world of education today is different from even ten years ago. Ways of teaching have developed and the school inspectors (Ofsted) are looking for ‘awe and wonder’ in lessons and collective worship. Think (in your preparation) ‘how can I illustrate my talk with things that will make the children excited and want to listen?’

You have a duty to provide excellence in your assemblies. It is best to check with the head teacher before you visit what the boundaries are. Some schools may not want to let you have a free rein!

Children can see through frauds! If you are tackling a topic which is difficult (suffering, illness, etc.) share your faith and also your questions! Children need to know that you are human and not a super hero! So…

This is the most important advice I can offer. You cannot be someone else and you cannot deliver other people’s assemblies for them! Work to your strengths (don’t include a song if you are tone deaf!). As long as you are working to these guidelines your assemblies will be well received, however you do them. They want to listen to you once and see if you are any good. Review your visit and see where you can develop/change, as needed.

Assemblies are a privilege to do and, with careful thought; prayer and planning, can sow seeds, which God may use in the future to harvest.

You will know if you’re getting it right when you walk into the next assembly and you hear a whispered ‘Yes!’ and not a yawn!

Submitted by John Fryer at 11:06am, 12th December 2005