This is an excerpt from a Godly Play lesson. These words would be said as the story teller brings out the “desert box” and plays with the sand. Next you might see them bring out a small doll and have that doll traipse through the sand as they say something like “I wonder why anyone would come to the desert” as a child seated in the circle around the box, might chime in “because God called them there”. Godly Play is a story based method for teaching children the Bible and encourages wondering, worship and deeper thinking about the Bible’s stories.
Personally I find this method fascinating whenever I get the chance to observe. The simple figures used to tell the story bring a child into the story better than the most exciting monologue ever could. The “wondering” questions cause the children to explore the story for themselves.
“I wonder which way is most important. I wonder if we could take any out. I wonder which way is most important for you.” These were some wondering statements I once presented when leading a Godly Play lesson on the Ten Commandments. Very politely and with reverence different kids around the circle responded. One older boy said “Taking God’s Name Seriously is for me, because it can be hard to do when my friends don’t” another younger boy explained “Not wanting what others have is for me”, while a little girl shyly explained “Honor your Father and Mother is for me”. As the storyteller I listened to each answer and then moved on to the next wondering statements, before dismissing the children to their work in response to the story. Inwardly I was blown away. The kids really engaged with the story and applied it to their own lives. I didn’t have to put on a flashy show, in fact the whole time was quiet and really quite simple.Not only did the children understand this method of teaching, but in presenting a story through the Godly Play method I had the chance to explore the depth of the story in a way I was never taught in college.
Godly Play is not the only method I use but being able to explore different ways of teaching children about God is just one of the fun parts of working as a Director of Children’s Ministry. The way our children's programs are set up I teach the elementary large group time at the later service. We employ the Godly Play method in our smaller group setting during the earlier service, and 3 teachers (who are probably more qualified than I) take turns teaching through Godly Play. I wish I had more chances to observe this method in action, but instead I eagerly glean stories from my volunteers about how the children responded to that Sunday’s lesson. Then I also have fun creating the materials for each week’s lesson and watching my husband "play" the stories when he is preparing to teach.
Below are a few pictures of the objects I made with David and Tina for this week's lesson about the Ark and the Temple. If this method has piqued your interest like it has mine, talk to me. There are so many interesting tidbits to share about it, and I would love to train a new teacher!