Recruiting and training a team
Recruiting and training a great prayer space team.
THE PRAYER SPACE TEAM
You don’t need a large team to host a prayer space, regardless of how long it lasts. Four people at any one time is usually enough, depending on the physical size of the prayer space and the number of prayer activities.
It is possible to host a prayer space with less people, but it’s harder to be fully aware and responsive to what’s going on with only one or two people. And it’s possible, of course, to host a prayer space with a much bigger team, but it doesn’t necessarily make it better - just busier. Too many team members can sometimes ‘crowd’ a prayer space, and discourage students from participating.
THE ROLE OF THE TEAM LEADER
Usually, the team leader is a schools worker, or a minister, or a children’s or youth worker from a local church. Sometimes, the team leader is a parent, or a teacher (although it’s often hard for teachers to juggle the roles well), and there have a been a few student-led prayer spaces too.
Prayer spaces work best when the team leader is the person from the local church or local Christian children’s or youthwork organisation who has an ongoing relationship with the school - the person who will continue to be involved in the life of the school after the prayer space has ended.
Essentially, the role of the team leader is to:
- Develop the ongoing relationship with the school.
- Co-ordinate and lead the team of volunteers well.
- Oversee the prayer space, in partnership with the school, and make sure that it works well.
- Lead most of the lesson-sessions in the prayer space.
- Write a summary report for the school and host an evaluation/feedback session.
THE ROLE OF THE TEAM MEMBERS/VOLUNTEERS
Prayer space team members are best described as 'hosts' or ‘guides’, because the emphasis is on welcoming and guiding participants through a process of experience and reflection, and less on teaching-from-the-front.
Prayer space guides need to be hospitable and welcoming, encouraging and friendly, confident and caring. You will also need capable and practical team members who know what they’re doing to set up the prayer space and pack it away afterwards.
In a mixed school, you will need both female and male guides in the prayer space at all times. Having two of each means that you can cover when unexpected things take someone out of the room.
Your team will need to be made up of people who are safe, competent and confident working amongst students and teachers. They don’t need to be experienced children’s or youth workers (although having one or two helps), but they do need to be good listeners and good questioners, good at making space for children and young people to explore and experience the prayer activities at their own pace. We’ve found that ‘grandparent’ types are often great team members.
They will also all need up-to-date checks relevant to whichever nation the prayer space is taking place in. In England and Wales, this is known as DBS.
TRAINING A TEAM
Prayer space teams can include all kinds of people... children’s workers and youth workers, church ministers and members, parents and grandparents, teaching staff and even students. It doesn’t really matter who they are, if they haven’t already been involved in a prayer space team, it’s important that you train them and prepare them.
To prepare your team of volunteers well, you could:
- Encourage them to explore this website and read the stories from other prayer spaces.
- Show them some of the videos from other prayer spaces.
- If possible, take them to visit another local prayer space.
- If possible, take them along to a training event - check the TRAINING&EVENTS page.
To train and equip them well, you will need to organise your own training evening, probably a week or two before the prayer space. Here's a example of what a local training evening might look like:
Local Training Workshop
|7.00pm||Teas and Coffees. Time to explore the prayer activities (set up at the back of the hall).|
|7.15pm||Introductions from team leader. Short ‘introductions’ activity so everyone gets to meet one another.|
|7.25pm||Explain what a prayer space is, read stories from the website. Slides from Prayer Spaces in Schools website. Show Prayer Spaces in School video (5min version).|
|7.40pm||Explain school context, who are the key relationships? Slide of the school and maybe the room as well. Explain how the prayer space is going to work.|
|7.50pm||(Everyone to the back of the hall, where prayer activities are set up.) Explain how each prayer activity works, and what to expect when students use them. Question & Answer time with volunteer team, probably including:
- How students of different faiths and of no faith are likely to participate.
- What to do if a student is disruptive? (Very unlikely, by the way.)
- How to respond, and if necessary how to work with pastoral staff, if a student is upset?
- What to do if a student asks us to pray for her/him?
- What to do if a student says/discloses something of concern?
- What to do if someone spots a Post-it prayer that raises concerns?
Handout describing the role of team members as ‘guides’/‘hosts’
Summarise Q&A time, respond to any outstanding questions
School rules; DBS, Health & Safety, Child Protection, pastoral care.
|8.40pm||(Probably on cushions/chairs amongst the prayer activities by now.) Any final questions, concerns, hopes, feelings. Prayer for the week, the team, and for the school|