When I was a child my Girls' Brigade group put on annual display evenings packed full of songs, drama, games, awards presentations and much more.
You can imagine the excitement when we were given songs and scripts to learn in the weeks leading up to the big event, so we could proudly perform in front of our families and church members.
I recently revisited the church we used to perform in and some of the memories of these performances came flooding back. It reminded me that our Girls' Brigade community groups do an amazing job of making memories with the children and young people they work with - whatever activities they do.
One of these memories, for me, includes the words to a song we learned for a display evening. The words that I learned at the age of around 10 – that I can cast all my cares upon Jesus and lay all of my burdens down at His feet – pop back into my head every now and then. I can sing the chorus I learned as a child and still find it comforting as an adult.
Girls' Brigade isn't just about making memories but about planting seeds of faith and walking alongside girls and young women as they grow and develop; just like it did for me.
Music can play a huge part in this, which is why music is advocated for in all of our programme materials. In my local Girls' Brigade group we ensure that we include singing regularly as part of our programme, as do most of the 450 other groups around England and Wales.
Our girls and young women, and the leaders, loving joining together intergenerationally to sing or take part in a fun action song. The children love seeing the leaders dancing or doing the actions (especially if they get it wrong) and it's a great relationship strengthener.
In Girls' Brigade we have four programme packs, for the four age groups our community groups work with, and they all run on a variation of our tried and tested four pillar approach – Spiritual, Physical, Educational and Service (SPES). These four pillars are carefully integrated into the programmes and we also encourage local groups to add in extra activities as suits them. At the heart of everything we do is a desire to see lives and communities transformed and enriched as people come to know Jesus.
A great example is our n:vestigate programme, aimed at 4 to 8s, which encourages leaders to teach the children how to express joy and praise to God through music.
As music helps us remember things, it offers a great way to teach Biblical concepts and truths in a fun way; as well as building community within a group and unlocking our emotions.
Plus, telling stories, chanting rhymes and playing singing games also helps with language development.
Producers such as Same Boat Music help our volunteer leaders access their range of fun, memorable and relevant songs. At our winter conference, in early November, Same Boat Music kindly gifted all our leaders access to four songs that we helped select from their amazing hope-filled catalogue of music.
Not only were these songs spiritually meaningful but they're fun too and I just know that our Girls' Brigade members will love learning them and learning more about God as a result.
And, in the years to come, I hope the words stay close to their hearts and bring them comfort wherever they are on their faith journey. Just like the words I learnt all those years ago do for me.
Girls' Brigade Ministries' vision and purpose is for lives and communities to be transformed and enriched as generations seek, serve and follow Jesus Christ. We do this through our network of local uniformed community groups, the video blog koko, The Esther Collective, retreats for women in and out of Girls' Brigade groups, mission consultancy for churches, and delivering equipping sessions across a number of areas around girls' issues. For more info: http://www.girlsb.org.uk/
Same Boat Music is part of the Out of the Ark family, who's award-winning songs have been enjoyed by millions of children in over 18,000 schools for 30 years. We believe in the power of songs to inspire faith, celebration and what it truly means to live life to the full. For more info: https://sameboatmusic.com/