Easter is undoubtedly the most significant time of year for those who follow Jesus. It’s a time when we stop and reflect on the way God has shown his love to us through the death of his Son. It’s a time when we remember the cost of our sin, and the sacrifice of the one who paid that price in our place. It’s a time when we remember the victory of the resurrection and the promise of our own resurrection from the dead.
It’s also a time when we realise an SRE assembly is just around the corner, and we reflect on the chaos of a few hundred kids gathered in a school hall for 30 minutes!
Preparing an SRE assembly can be stressful. When I get asked questions by SRE teachers about assemblies they usually fall into two categories: ‘Should we do them?’ And if so, ‘How do I prepare one?’
I’ve previously written about why I think SRE assemblies are worth the effort. Now I want to give you some simple tips for using the CEP Connect curriculum to prepare your assembly.
Know your aim and keep it simple
One of the challenges of the Easter story is that it’s not a simple story. From a human perspective it involves history, politics and betrayal. But the bigger picture involves the whole history of mankind, and God’s eternal plan to save them. So how do you fit that into 30 minutes?!
The answer is: you don’t. Just like each SRE lesson we teach has specific aims and outcomes, so do assemblies. Remember that your assembly doesn’t stand on its own. You’re building on what students have learnt in class, and you are preparing them for what they’ll be learning throughout the year.
Having a specific aim for your assembly means that you can focus on teaching one thing, in a clear and engaging way.
For example, the B1 Lower Primary Easter assembly aim is, ‘To help student to understand why ‘Good Friday’ is good.’ Following this clear aim means that while you won’t teach every aspect of the Easter story, you will be teaching students that Jesus' death and resurrection means that we can be forgiven, and have eternal life with him. Leaving behind some of the other parts of the story will allow you to teach this important truth in a clear and focused way.
Participation is good, engagement is even better!
I’ve seen a lot of SRE assemblies where the aim seems to have been to get as many students as possible to participate in some way. One of the stressful factors in an assembly is that you have a lot of kids, but not a lot of time. Each time you choose volunteers to get up and participate in some way (or even just to answer a question) it takes time.
It can also interrupt the flow of your assembly, which can become a distraction for all the others kids. Once all the other students start talking, things can get out of control very quickly. Participation is good, and we should be finding ways to involve kids in the assembly. But each time you do, you need to ask yourself if it benefits the whole group or just a few.
In our SRE assemblies, just like our lessons, we should be aiming to engage the whole group with what we’re doing. Here are a few examples of this:
- If you’re teaching a memory verse using paper/cards with them words on them, consider if every student will be able to see and read them from where they are sitting. If only half of the room can see them, the other half will disengage.
- If you’re singing a song in the assembly, rather than have a class perform the song—teach, it to the whole group. Maybe choose some students to stand at the front and demonstrate some actions with you? If you do, make sure everyone can see them.
- When asking questions during the assembly, ask questions everyone can respond to. Rather than getting a few students to answer, ‘How did Jesus’ friends feel when they saw that he had come back to life?’, you could say, ‘Show me with your face how you think Jesus’ friends felt’. This gives every student an opportunity to respond to the same question.
Make it work for you
Remember that the curriculum is a tool in your hand. The lesson aim and outcome is where you want to go during the assembly, and the rest is a road map. It’s up to you to shape the assembly so it works for your students and gets them to your destination. Let the ideas in the curriculum inspire you to find the best way to teach the students you have in front of you.
Easter is such a special and important time of the year. So let’s make the most of SRE assemblies as we share the great news of our Saviour Jesus.