Another Greek New Testament word.  This one also has a rich variety of meanings: fellowship; community; union; partnership.   It is the same word as is used for animals which are yoked together and thus work together as a pair, sharing the burden equally.

  In Christian teaching “koinonia” describes how Christians come together as a family, with believers being regarded as “children of God” and brothers and sisters in Christ (see John chapter 17)

Corinthians chapter 12  verses 12-31 gives us the picture of the Church as being like a body—in a body different parts have different functions, but each part is an important part of the whole. If something were missing, the body would be incomplete and not able to function so well.  As we all know, if one part of the body is in pain, the whole part is affected. In the same way, the members of a family are interdependent: all are needed and valued and each person is important to the whole—this is the message for the Church… and for the school.

Koinonia also expresses the quality of relationship within the Christian community. It is based on fellowship with Jesus. Through him, Christians share the relationship that Jesus has with God. In John chapter 17, Jesus prays that all his followers may be ‘perfectly one’ as he and the Father are one. Through him, Christians become sons and daughters of God and therefore brothers and sisters of each other. They are all members of the same family.

The foundation of Christian koinonia is Christ’s self giving on the cross, the supreme demonstration of his love for all. We love because he loved us first.  For the first Christians, this was expressed in a genuine common life with shared meals, shared possessions and practical support for the poor. The Christian church today continues to serve not only those within the Christian community but any who are in need.

Everyone’s different gifts are at the service of the community.

 

Koinonia in School

The Christian value of koinonia asks you too look at your school as a place of Christian fellowship and of inclusion:

Ethos

  • How do you know that all members of the school community feel included (and remember that the community is more than just the pupils)?
  • How are pupils supporting each other and building friendships  through buddy systems, peer mentoring etc?
  • How are pupils given a stake in the school through ownership of school aims and missions statements?
  • Do activities organised with other schools, particularly local church schools, encourage a sense of community?
  • How do you generate a sense of community and belonging in school?  Do pupils see themselves as part of “one body” in which everyone has a role?

Worship

  • Do you have a shared school prayer which shows what it is to be part of the fellowship of your school community?  Do you make use of the common hymns and prayers of the Church, in particular the Lord’s Prayer?
  • How are the values of the school shared through collective worship?
  • Do the rituals used in worship help build a sense of community?
  • Are pupils given the role of worship leaders to help demonstrate their importance in the worshipping life of the community?
  • Do all pupils feel included in worship and able to participate at their own appropriate level?
  • How does worship promote and reinforce the shared distinctive Christian values of the school?

Curriculum

  • How are pupils encouraged to work together in a co-operative and mutually supportive way?
  • Do pupils have the opportunity to learn about the Eucharist as the act of community for Christians?
  • Are there links with the wider and world communities?
  • Does the curriculum encourage pupils to build and sustain their roles in the school and wider communities?
  • Do pupils learn about the worldwide church?  Do they see their school as part of the worldwide church?

Leadership

  • How are parents and the community made to feel a welcome part of your school?
  • How do you support and encourage active involvement in the Friends of the School / PTA etc?
  • Does the school stand at the heart of the community?  How do you know?
  • How far do you consider your school to be “in community” with local churches?  How are two-way links with the local church community grown and maintained to the benefit of both?
  • How are staff and governors supporting each other and valuing each other?
  • In what practical ways does the school build a sense of community and mutual valuing amongst staff e.g. staff room facilities, social gatherings?
  • How do you help staff and governors have  a strong vision about what is special about a church school and their role in supporting the vision?