Can I be a Junior Soldier without attending lessons?
- Weekly, fortnightly or monthly lessons are only one part of the Junior Soldier programme.
- Junior Soldiers are members of The Salvation Army and are on a discipleship journey. Lessons are one way they can have a space to explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus but there are other ways the church community can help and support these young people on this journey.
- Without lessons, it is still important to make time with your Junior Soldier to work through the passport. The key areas in the passport will help the Junior Soldier as they explore faith and what it looks like for them in everyday life.
- Helping our children to continue the faith conversation at home is essential for our young people, bringing God into the rhythm of their everyday lives. You can support the families with this by providing the ‘Home & Beyond’ cards at the end of the lesson, either in hard copy or by placing the information in an email.
- The wider church community has a responsibility to be involved in the faith development of the young people in their midst. Without lessons it is important to continually put this challenge before the congregation and ask how they can support the young people as they explore faith.
How old does a child need to be to participate or be enrolled as a Junior Soldier?
- This will be a decision that needs to be made locally, based on the individuals involved, but the information below might help this decision.
- The Junior Soldier material is written with 7–12 year olds in mind but this does not mean that those younger or older cannot be involved in the programme. The discipleship of the child is the key thing and if being a part of this programme will help a child on their journey then this is a good thing.
- Any child at primary school will be able to easily engage with the material.
How long can I be a part of the programme?
- This is a decision that will need to be made locally, based on the individuals involved, but the information below might help this decision.
- The discipleship of the child is the key thing we are focusing on and if being a part of this programme will help a child on their journey then this is a good thing. There is no designated cut off point and so the decision that is best for the child’s spiritual development needs to be made.
- You may find that a young person, even as they are transitioning into the youth programme, still either attends Junior Soldiers or has time allocated in order to finish their passports.
How do I run a Junior Soldier programme in my church? Where do I start?
- It is important to have discussions with your corps officer regarding starting Junior Soldiers and to think strategically around what is currently happening and how it will fit in with other activities in the corps, especially other children’s programmes.
- The best source of help, support and information will be your divisional children’s secretary who will be able to support you as you navigate all that is important in supporting Junior Soldiers on their discipleship journey.
- There is plenty of information available on the website including the preparation material, the format of the lessons, passport information for leaders, lessons etc. It would be good to have a look through all the material and maybe even print some pages off and spend time looking over them.
- Think about the kind of environment and relationships you would like the children to engage in, and the reason behind why you are doing what you are doing. The end picture you have in mind for your children is important before you start to think more about the practical things that will need to happen.
How can I fit the Junior Soldier programme into what already happens at my church?
- You may already have lots happening at your corps and are wondering how you can fit another thing into the weekly calendar. Think strategically, about the end picture you have in mind for the children in your planning and working out what will work best in your church and the discipleship of your children.
- You might like to use the Junior Soldier material in your current kids church setting and then provide some opportunity, perhaps once a month, for Junior Soldiers to get together and work on their passports or projects.
How many leaders do I need to run Junior Soldiers?
- This will depend on the number of children you have in your group.
- The wise suggestion is that even if you have less than eight children (check Safe to Serve child/leader ratio) you would have at least two leaders. It is best practice to have at least two leaders for any group that we run with children; as stated in Safe to Serve, “never be alone with a child.”
- It is also suggested that you have enough leaders for Junior Soldiers to be able to divide the group into designated small groups for certain parts of the sessions. Small groups with the same consistent leader are important for young people in order to build trust and a safe space to wrestle with all that it means to be a follower of Jesus.
How can I best connect with parents?
- Keep the parents informed about what the children are exploring during the programme.
- Provide take home information and encourage the children and families to engage in the ‘Home & Beyond’ section of the programme.
- Stay connected with the parents and have regular conversations about what the group has been exploring and how their children are going on their discipleship journey, e.g. chat when they come and sign in and out.
- Involve families in special projects and events, e.g. if you are going to do Clean Up Day it is not only about involving the Junior Soldiers—get their families to come and support these projects.
How do people know that I belong to a group called Junior Soldiers?
- Belonging is important for all of us but especially for our children as they develop.
- Those who are part of a Junior Soldier programme will be able to be identified in a number of ways: some form of uniform that includes their badge; the way that they treat others; their involvement in mission projects etc.
- Uniform will need to be decided on locally but one suggestion is a T-shirt that has the shield on the front and the Junior Soldier badge printed on the sleeve. Uniform is not important but some children may like something to wear that distinguishes them as a Junior Soldier.
How does a Junior Soldier receive ticks for the Participation section if there is no Junior Soldier programme running in the corps?
- Ticks can be received if the child attends kids church or similar each week.
- If there is no kids church or programme that they attend, they can receive ticks if they attend church each week.