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.
Welcome to Faces of Easter III: Remembering Christ’s Baptism and Blessing, our lesson for March 7, 2021. We’ll be sharing this virtually.
There are so many ways we can go with this lesson. We must focus on the story itself, of course, but we can also give thought to examining the concept of the trinity, recognizing that this moment in Jesus’ life is a beautiful interaction of the father, son, and the holy spirit.
At the end of the storytelling time you could ask the children to gather items to put by the baptism tile, or you could use wondering questions to help them process the story. Here are the ones I’ll have in your rooms:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of this story is.
2. I wonder what you already know about John the Baptist.
3. I wonder how John the Baptist might have felt when Jesus asked him to baptize him.
4. I wonder why Jesus wanted to be baptized, even though he was God’s son?
5. I wonder what people thought when they saw the holy spirit come down toward Jesus. I wonder what they thought when they heard God’s voice say, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
6. I wonder how it might feel to be baptized.
7. God and the holy spirit gave Jesus a blessing. I wonder what a blessing is. I wonder if you’ve ever been given a blessing and how that felt. I wonder if you’ve ever given anyone else a blessing.
Here are some ideas that might serve as springboards for the children’s own creations:
Retelling the story:
1. Have a small Jesus figure, a small John figure, and a pool (a large bowl of water) and let the children take turns at one table retelling the story and acting it out with the figures.
2. Let the children make their own Jesus and John figures (clothespins?) and their own pool (plastic bowls or recycled containers like Cool Whip size-there may be some in the resource room. If not, you could even use a Solo cup, cut shorter.)
3. I remember a teacher from my own childhood having us clean dirty pennies with water and vinegar, talking about how our sins are washed away in baptism. I’m not sure how I feel about this. If I did that today I would want to add that even after our baptism is done, we still have to ask God daily to forgive us of the mistakes we make.
4. Make a snack to celebrate this special event in Jesus’ life, like our edible locust to the right.
You could make edible bugs to dip in honey as done here, or make trinity muffins as described here.
5. Make ornaments for your Jesus tree.
A. You could always make doves, as shown here or here (I know it’s an owl, but you could make it into a dove,) or here (I love that one.) Or pick up some feathers at the craft store and let the kids think themselves how to make it from the feathers and other materials you have on hand.
B. Another ornament idea is to make a Chrismon-type ornament that celebrates his baptism in particular as shown here(scroll down and see the scallop one.) Or why not use real scallop shells from a craft store and make your own like the one in the link. The kids could hot glue a ribbon to it and figure out how to represent the three drops of water shown in the chrismon–or not! They could put a dove with the shell, or make it however they like!
Examining the Concept of the Trinity.
Since we just enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day, it might be a good time to look at the 3 leaved shamrock as a symbol of the trinity. Here’s an ornament the kids could make out of fun foam here. And there are plenty of other ideas here. Be sure to scroll down to see all the examples.
For more ideas on art response to this story, visit my Pinterest page, here.