Do you have Year 5 & 6 children in your church and worry how to hold onto them before they reach secondary school age? Particularly for children in Year 6, the final year at primary school, they can quickly begin to feel too old for the children’s work and wish that they were older.  Yet they are still too young for secondary school.

St Peter’s Church in Wellesbourne started a club targeted for those children, to give them something exciting just for them, enabling the children to come together for pizza and games with a clear focus on the Bible and time to pray, which helps them to grow in their faith and deepen their interest in church as they feed into secondary school age and transition into youth work. Greg Bartlem, the Vicar of St Peter’s Church said, “Prayer and pizza had just been transformative. With Thrive’s help we’ve invested in our young people. What they’ve done as an organisation is help us to invest in our own young people. I really don’t think we would be where we are now without the help, without the support, and without the love from the team at Thrive. I’m so grateful for all they’ve bought into our church”.

Almost two years ago, the church had the vision to start a children’s group for their top end of kids work that could be something specifically for them, where they would feel loved and valued and given an opportunity to find a faith of their own and start their walk with Jesus. One young person who comes said “I enjoy learning about God and playing the games and the pizza.  I also love how we can pray without having pressure on you”.

To promote the new group, the church (with the help of Thrive) ran an overnight family camp in the church paddock. The children loved it, the idea of the weekly club was shared and that’s where the Prayer and Pizza group was launched.  The club met every Wednesday evening during term time and continues to meet regularly to this day. Regular faithful volunteers signed up to help on a monthly basis.

Parent and leader Sharon Elsworth has said that she “cannot recommend this midweek group highly enough. When we moved to a much more rural setting from London in June 2020 the first and one of the only people who said ‘Welcome’ was the vicar of the local church. The main church service at that time was traditional and he encouraged me to send my son who was in Year 6, to go along to the midweek group called ‘Prayer and Pizza’. He loved it and was very happy to go each week. It was a true blessing to know that he was engaging with other kids his age, having fun, and praying with people outside of our home. Eventually it was time for my younger child to get to go to the group and by then I was able to volunteer and find out what was so engaging about the group for myself. Fiona is an excellent kids’ worker for a start; calm, kind, engaging, patient, grounding the evening’s fun in bible study, discussion, and prayer. The kids are absolutely fantastic fun too and really engaged in the sessions despite all the silliness”.

The young people that go enjoy the group, and one of them said, “At Prayer and Pizza I love playing games and doing activities, but I get to see my best friend once a week every Wednesday since she goes to a different school”.

The group meet, eat pizza and chat with their friends, followed by playing a game. Afterwards, we have a Bible focus where the theme varies. It can be following on from questions they asked the previous week, it may fit in with the Christian calendar or events, or it could be part of a series that the group have been exploring. The idea is to read the passage and give time for the children to share their thoughts and ask any questions. This feeds nicely into a time of prayer, where the children are encouraged to pray out loud. Depending on time, we quite often finish with a game at the end.

Last summer, we made the decision to open the group to Year 5, 6 and 7 due to the fact of having a small number of Year 7’s at Prayer and Pizza. A year later, our numbers have grown, and the group has a good number of current Year 6 & 7’s that will become Year 7 & 8 in September. That group will then form a new youth group and from there, youth work will grow in the church.

Prayer and Pizza will continue for Year 5&6 children and each year, the Year 6’s will have a strong youth ministry to filter into.

What about you?

If you have been excited by the possibility of having a group like this start in your church, please do get in touch with Thrive.  We can help work with you to achieve this.  It doesn’t have to be Prayer and Pizza.  It doesn’t have to follow in that format.  What you need is to find something that will appeal to your children.  Cast the vision out to your volunteers and share in a way that they can get excited about and go for it!

If you would like to chat with Thrive to talk more about what you could do for your Year 5&6 children, please do get in touch here.