Publicity and Preparation
Getting things (and people) ready for your prayer space.
In the build-up to your prayer space, it is good to remember that it won't just be students who are affected by it. The school community is wide and varied, including; students, teaching staff, other staff, parents and other family at home, school visitors, even local church members.
PREPARING THE SCHOOL
Prayer spaces work best in schools where there is good communication. Good (clear, regular) communication between the local team and the school, especially in the countdown to a prayer space, will help to resolve any outstanding questions, clarify expectations, and stir up interest... you will want the whole school to know that the prayer space is about to open. Here are a few communication suggestions that you might want to consider:
1. School staff, and school Governors
Prepare a short staff briefing to explain what the prayer space will look like, and how it will work. If possible, present this to the staff team in person. If it’s not, print it onto one sheet of A4. Include a few photos and contact details for the church or organisation that’s running the prayer space. In addition, you might want to include a link to this website, so that staff can read about prayer spaces in other schools.
Invite staff and Governors to visit the prayer space, either the day before it opens to students, or during a particular session/lunchtime in the week just for them. Have refreshments available, and some examples of student’s prayers for staff to read.
Ask if you can create some prayer space posters and put them up around the school in the final couple of weeks.
Offer to do assemblies, or a notice in assemblies, on ‘What Is Prayer?’ in the build-up to the prayer space.
Offer to do a series of R.E. (or other) lessons, and make links with the upcoming prayer space.
Schools (primary more than secondary) sometimes decide to write a short letter home to parents about their upcoming prayer space. Offer to draft this letter with the school, explaining what a prayer space is, and how the one in their daughter’s/son’s school is going to work.
Invite parents to visit the prayer space after school on a particular day, maybe with their daughter/son. Have refreshments available, and some examples of the student’s prayers for the parents to read.
PREPARING YOUR TEAM (AND OTHERS OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL)
Outside of the school community, there are two main groups that you will need to communicate with; your team and volunteers, and local churches. Here are a few communication suggestions that you might want to consider;
1. Team and volunteers
Gather your team for a training session, probably a week or two before the prayer space.
Stay in touch with your team regularly before and during the prayer space:
- To remind them when they need to arrive for the team briefing.
- To remind them to come prepared... to pray, to expect to work hard, to give their best.
- To update them with any changes to the schedule.
- To encourage them with any stories, and remind them to send any of theirs.
- To thank them for being part of the team.
2. Local churches
Prepare a 5-minute talk (or a short video, or a PowerPoint/Keynote slideshow) about the prayer space and ask local churches if you can present it in one of their services in the build-up to the prayer space. Invite the church members to volunteer to help set up the prayer space and pack it down afterwards, to donate resources, and to pray.
Create a short flier/leaflet about the prayer space and ask local churches if it can be included in the newsletter, or handed out at one of their services in the build-up to the prayer space. Again, use it to invite the church members to volunteer as helpers, to donate resources, and to pray.
Arrange to meet up with key people in the build-up to the prayer space, to explain about the prayer space in more detail and to recruit their support in different ways; church-based children’s and youth workers, church leaders, local Christian schools-workers, prayer team leaders, etc.
Invite some of these key people to visit the prayer space during a particular lesson/lunchtime during the week, so that they get to see it in action.
Email, call or text these key people regularly during the week of the prayer space to encourage them with any stories.
The real V.I.P.s, of course, are the students - the children and the young people. However, there are some other people who you might want to invite to visit the prayer space while it is ‘in action’, for example;
- The Head teacher and other staff.
- The school Governors.
- Local church leaders.
- Key children’s workers and youth workers who are hoping to set up prayer spaces in other schools.
- Key staff from feeder primary schools (if yours is a secondary school) who might be interested in having a prayer space.
- The local press.
Obviously, you will need to negotiate inviting in any ‘outside’ people with the school first, and you will need to make sure that the presence of any visitors doesn’t affect the students in the prayer space.
A SUGGESTED TIMELINE
Planning and preparation is essential for a successful, minimum-stress prayer space. If you’re working towards hosting your first prayer space, try following this timeline:
6-9 months to go
- Register as a member of the Prayer Spaces in Schools website.
- Download and read curriculum documents. Read some prayer space stories.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and to ask for local contacts.
- Attend a Prayer Spaces in Schools workshop, or visit a prayer space if possible.
- Discuss ideas with local church members, children’s/youth workers.
- Identify local school where you have good relationships, or are committed to building them.
- Contact local school to make initial prayer space proposal (in writing, if necessary).
3 months to go
- Meet with school leadership (Head of R.E., Head teacher, senior staff) to agree dates, room/space options, any key themes and the prayer space format.
- Register your prayer space dates and school on the Prayer Spaces in Schools website.
- Check Prayer Spaces in Schools prayer activities library, begin to collect ideas.
- Talk with your local church (and others), and with local children’s and youth work projects - begin to gather supporters and potential volunteers for your team, and a budget.
1 month to go
- Confirm room/space with the school.
- Visit room/space and make a detailed floor-plan.
- Confirm key themes and prayer activities with the school. Plan prayer activity layout.
- Download prayer activities PDFs.
- Recruit core team of 2 or 3 who will carry the prayer space with you (and will cover for you if you’re not there for any sessions).
- Continue to update local supporters and potential volunteers on progress.
2 weeks to go
- Confirm set-up and pack-down days/times with the school.
- Borrow, beg for, or buy resources you need for prayer activities.
- Host training evening for volunteers. Finalise availability of each team member.
1 week to go
- Confirm lesson timetable with the school.
- Work on any lesson plans.
- If possible, deliver assemblies and/or lessons around the theme of What Is Prayer?.
- Design and distribute prayer space publicity posters/fliers in the school (make it fun).
- If possible, set up on FRIDAY before (or if the prayer space doesn’t open on a Monday, just set up the day before).
- Have fun!
- Gather stories and take photos.
The week afterwards
- Thank your team of volunteers and all school staff who have been involved in some way (cards, chocolates, emails, phone calls, commemorative pens, cuddly toys, etc.).
- Debrief with your team of volunteers.
- Arrange a debrief with your key contact in the school (maybe Head of R.E.), to review the prayer space and to discuss ‘what next?’
- Write a summary prayer space report for the school, with photos.
- Write a story-article for the Prayer Spaces in Schools website, send photos.
- Check through the prayer space resources, list anything that needs replacing/repairing.