Searchlights – The All-age Resource for Common Worship
David Adam, Kevin Mayhew, 2007

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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Searchlights overview: A practical and comprehensive programme for Common Worship, Searchlights provides an abundance of inspirational worship ideas for all members of the church community, young and old alike, nurturing them individually and as a congregation into a loving and living relationship with God.

NB Each separate resource outlines a more comprehensive summary on what it aims to achieve, based on the audience it is targeted to.

What do you get?

Leader’s notes and programme outlines for 60 sessions. Also included are photocopiable resource sheets for each session. Available to buy from Kevin Mayhew.

Who is it for?

Candles, children aged 3-5 years old, Lamps, children aged 6-10 years old. (Also available is ‘Torches’ for children aged 11+ years as well as ‘Complete Resource Books’, ‘Prayers of Intercession’ and ‘Sermon Illustrations’ which have similar layouts)

Cost?

£15.99 each

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Good. Glossy, paperback leader manuals with each session clearly laid out across two A4 pages.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    One broad aim stated at the beginning of each session.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Very accessible. Easy to read and follow. The leader's notes accommodate for the fact that the previous session has already been run in some cases so encourages the leader to recap on what the children learnt the week before. Language is clear and introductory section covers main points for leaders in order to prepare well.

    Who could lead it?

    Experienced children's leaders/ mature Christian adults.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Age appropriate and relevant to the session theme/Christian festival they are centred around. Simple in both instruction and action for completion. More complex for older age ranges, which accommodates for their more advanced ability to apply logical thinking.

    How good is any digital material?

    None provided. Leaders may choose to find songs suggested from external sources though.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Resources suggest careful preparation. Leaders need to imagine themselves in the stories prior to running sessions to ensure they can understand the context of stories and be prepared for any questions from participants. If leaders choose to act out stories this takes more prep and they should also be sure to understand lyrics to songs before teaching them. Teachers should know the passage being covered and be properly trained - with access to necessary equipment too. Though this sounds extensive, preparation is quick and easy as the sessions are laid out so clearly, with good instruction.

    Is there website support? Links?

    None mentioned on a weekly basis. These resources are to be used with Common Worship readings for the Sunday, or for the current Church season.

    Is it dated?

    No, activities stay relevant and true to the Bible so are unlikely to change. Choice of songs/worship may be substituted by the leader in years to come.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Resources acknowledge that activities and group involvement facilitate engagement of participants. This is actioned out by the use of role playing, interactive Bible story telling and group activities in each session. Children will tend to be on the same team with the exercises, rather than introducing competitive ones.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Resource sheets allow for learning by drawing and reading. Teaching sessions involve active participation and a hands on approach. Songs involve learning through listening. There are also other ‘doing' activities, such as stuck-in-the-mud, musical statues and many many more.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Resource has been created to work alongside Common Worship readings for the Sunday, or for the current Church season which is happening in an all-age setting. Sessions are designed to work alongside an all-age service in church. Material is mostly play-based and made for smaller group sizes, however can be used with larger groups with the right support in place, for example parents support. As some sessions run along main church services, a few around Christian festivals have worksheets but no separate layout as it is assumed the children would stay in the service. Lots of craft ideas throughout resource which integrate with main church services. Sessions last approx. 30 minutes and require minimal access to media/computers/TVs. Searchlights books provide all you need for fun creative sessions, however you may choose to purchase a ‘Complete Resource Book' if looking to work with children across the board of ages 3 -11+ years old.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Gently does this by use of activities which can be linked to the stories. Children may also be asked to answer questions about their interpretation of passages.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Approximately half of the time and material.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Presented by the leader telling the stories in an interesting way, for example, by asking questions along the way, or getting children to act parts out. Material is presented alongside modern day scenarios in lots of cases to make it more relevant to children. Children then respond and apply material in the activity which follows.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Achieves this by sessions on becoming more like Jesus and thinking about how we act each day, for example, by teaching children it is important to appreciate each other, and to appreciate God's gifts to us in our every day mundane tasks. Also covers this by applying Bible scenarios to children's lives, for example, mentions topics such as parties, scouts and laziness.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    No, open. No evidence of liturgical practice which would exclude any denomination of Christianity. Stays true to the Bible.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Children learn about living as Jesus would want in their everyday lives, for example, by caring for the world and others.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    Children learn the basics of Christianity and how to build a firm foundation of faith. This is supported by learning about how Jesus wants us to live, and by learning about key messages to Christians through stories and parables in the Old and New Testaments.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Key focus is on God's love of children and their significance in His plan for the world. Children are made aware that, thought they are small, they can still be used for GREAT works.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Achieves this by demonstrating God's love and support of us in difficult life situations. For example, there is teaching on how Jesus cares for people in their weakness, and how he is able to heal, shown in portrayal of Jesus healing the little girl.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Introduces children to the idea that God wants ALL people to know Him, and that to achieve this he wants our help! For example, one session focuses on ‘God needing helpers to do his work'.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Asks children in a dew sessions how they can practically support their friends and environments. For example, sessions on ‘How can we help others' and ‘God wants us to love one another' look at community involvement.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Touched upon by mention of God loving all people.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Touched upon by mention of God loving all people, and using people to reach others.

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