Becky Ramsey | Author & Children’s Minister
What is Godly Play?
According to the Godly Play Foundation, Godly Play is a creative and imaginative approach to Christian nurture.
Godly Play is about understanding how each of the stories of God’s people connects with the child’s own experience and relationship with God.
Godly Play respects the innate spirituality of children and encourages curiosity and imagination in experiencing the mystery and joy of God.
Read more about Godly Play here.
How do we do Godly Play at First Baptist Greenville?
Christians of many different denominations use Godly Play and probably do it differently, even within the same denomination. In this blog, I describe Godly Play by sharing the way our church does it. That doesn’t mean that it’s the best way or the prescribed way, or the only way, of course, but it’s the way that suits us best.
What are we here for?
We meet here to talk about Godly Play, to share what it’s all about and to discuss how to do it better.
The weekly blog posts are designed to help Sunday school teachers prepare for their Godly Play lessons, and the individual pages (see the tabs at the top of this page) share information about how we do Godly Play at First Baptist Church, Greenville, SC.
We’d love to hear from teachers everywhere, not just the ones at our church! We hope you’ll join our circle and share your ideas!
What Godly Play is Not
Godly Play is quite different from the traditional model in which the teacher tells the children what they need to know. Godly Play is not about things that are that simple. It is not just about learning lessons or keeping children entertained. It is about locating each lesson in the whole system of Christian language and involving the creative process to discover the depths of meaning in them.
It was really fun to think about how to tell this story, how to create the house so that the friends could deliver their paralyzed friend to Jesus’s feet. It was also a pleasure to think about the lesson itself: what happened that day and what we can learn from it about faith, the power of Jesus, (and his ability to heal both wounds of the spirit and physical wounds) and what it means to be a Christian friend.
As you can see from the scripts, I’ve written the story in two versions: one for the younger children, which focuses on the healing itself and on friendship, and one for older children, which also includes the discussion after the healing between Jesus and the religious scholars. There is an added wondering question for the older children concerning this discussion as well.
As you tell the story, you will find enough Lincoln logs in your basket to build the house as shown below. I’m hoping to have enough donated so that you can be creative and build it how you like, but just in case you have to go with the blocks I’ve got, I’m sharing a pictorial guide to building it here.
If you like, as you build the house you could remind the children of last week’s story about Jesus calling Levi (Matthew), that some of the most important work Jesus did was done while visiting people in their homes, listening to them, talking with them, teaching them, bringing them peace, and often healing them in different ways.
Once the house is built, you can begin the story.
The popsicle stick roof makes it easy to remove “tiles” so that the paralyzed man can be lowered. You may want to take off all of the tiles and part of a side wall so that everyone can see what is going on inside the house. Or just demonstrate the lowering, and then tell the rest of the story on the green underlay.
If you’re teaching the older children, as you talk about Jesus’s discussion with the religious scholars, you will want to stress that people may have thought that sin was connected to illness in Bible times, but that this is untrue. Children sometimes mistakenly pick up only parts of a sentence, and the idea that illness has anything to do with sin is definitely one we don’t want them to get!
We can celebrate that there were actually two miracles shown by the story: that of healing the paralyzed man and that God empowered Jesus to heal the heart of the man, forgiving him of his sin. None of it would have happened if it hadn’t been for the man’s friends, who loved him enough to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus.
Gift – To – God Ideas
The story is probably enough to inspire the children to express it through their very own artistic gift to God, but just in case they need a little springboard, here are some ideas I hope will be helpful.
(Encourage them to retell the story to each other, not just build the house.) I hope to have enough extra Lincoln logs to add to those in the story basket. We’ll see.
*Pick characters and act it out. Bring a blanket and let them try to lift one person in the blanket (over the carpet, and not very high,:) )
2. Make parts of the story.
* Make a mat with fabric and Popsicle sticks and a man and his friends and Jesus from clothespins. Bring shoe boxes and let the kids make a whole set, with the house too. Can they make a set of stairs leading up to the roof? (See an example of something sort of like this here.
*Weave a mat as shown here. When the kids can use it at home as a placemat, it will remind of the story. All it takes is construction paper.
3. Make a collage about what it means to be a (Christian) friend. Cut out pictures from magazines that show people being friends to each other or draw pictures that show friendship in action. This could also be a great mural that the whole class works on together.
4. Make a Person-on-a-Mat snack. Frost graham crackers with icing, and arrange stick pretzels and marshmallows to form the body of the person on the mat. Or you could use gingerbread men. (Who would turn down frosting?!)
5. Cards for others. We might not be able to heal others, but cards with pictures and friendly messages can help aid the healing. Offer kids the option of making get well cards for church members or shut ins.
For more art response ideas, see my Pinterest page here.
I hope you enjoy the story.