Reaching out to our communities through music

Mission in a media age that’s here to stay

17th June 2019

We asked Miz Porter from iSingPOP – a charity spreading the gospel through teaching pop songs in schools – to tell us about how they are helping churches to engage with young people and families in their communities through music.

I love my job. In fact, I call it a passion rather than a job, even though it is definitely a full-time undertaking! I lead a team who support churches to connect with local primary schools through singing, using the high-quality media and stringent production values that people expect these days.

We usually work with the whole school, teaching them pop songs and dance routines for several days before bringing in professional equipment to record their CD and then holding a concert for their family and friends in their local church. This can be the start of a really positive relationship. In our experience, when children are animated and taking part, parents will follow without hesitation. Only the other day, I was speaking to a parent whose six-year-old daughter was judging the suitability of new schools according to whether they ‘did iSingPOP!’

Partnering with schools through iSingPOP can enable churches to present the good news of the Gospel to tech-savvy children and families in our communities in a way that’s really relevant to them. Wherever possible, we encourage a member of the clergy or a family/children’s worker to be a part of our week at each school, building relationships with teachers and children. And we’re passionate about our programmes being as accessible as possible, so we do a lot of fundraising to enable us to keep costs low. Grants like the one we received from Allchurches Trust are a big help!

I love meeting other churches all over the country who would love to engage with the families in their community. My passion is to encourage and support them to do this through a little courage, organisation, great resources, and a plan of action.

One church we worked with took this seemingly daunting step when they met and planned four fun family events across the year. They decided that iSingPOP was the ideal first step as it was a simple way for the church to open its doors to the whole community. Having drawn in a crowd, they invited people along to other events and to attend their family service, which they, in turn, made more welcoming and relevant to parents and children. As a result, they now have between 100 and 150 people attending monthly family services.

Another vicar, Rev Sue Greatorex St Batholomew’s, Lower Cam, Gloucestershire, moved into the area to find that she had no children or families in her church. The Diocese of Gloucester - one of our official partners - suggested that she hosted an iSingPOP project.

She said: “We arranged for iSingPOP to come and run a project in the local community school. After the concerts, I sent out a note to ask if any of the children would like to join a children’s choir to sing at our family services. Six children signed up and now our family service is the most well attended service we do. One of the children’s choir was recently confirmed and we have just started a children's bible study group.”

These stories inspire me to keep going in the face of challenges. It’s a challenge to keep up with the rapid pace of the adoption of new media and to be pretty picky in order to stay relevant. Our award-winning songwriters, for example, discard many of their well-crafted songs in order to make sure that projects bring the best songs that children will love.

But what’s really fantastic is that through this project, the window of opportunity is wide open, and we’ve found schools are happy to engage with their local church. These pupils are at such a crucial age for us to share the good news of the Gospel. After all, at a diocesan event I recently attended, 98% said they had begun their faith journey as a child or teenager.

Partnering with organisations like ours means that churches can make use of what we have learnt over many years as well as our incredible resources, rather than starting from scratch. It means that children can sing, dance, perform and record up-to-date songs which delight themselves, teachers and families.

And you don’t just have to take our word for it! Our friends at Whittington Church of England Primary School said: “The high-quality singing projects with bespoke songs make a match-up easy between Gospel values and school values such as friendship, respect, forgiveness, courage, responsibility and thankfulness.”

We love our communities and want to help our churches to effectively engage with them by embracing this media age, rather than seeing it as a barrier. By joining forces, we can ensure that our mission can bear fruit in a way that’s practical but also transformational!

Churches and schools can find out more at www.isingpop.org

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