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 the Ark and the Tent, the Godly Play story based on Exodus 25-31, 35-40. You can find the script on p.81-86 in the orange book (The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Vol 2, 14 Presentations for Fall, by Jerome W. Berryman).
There are different approaches to this lesson that teachers can take. Of course we can all go through a study of each of the steps of getting ready and the tools mentioned above to help them get ready. Many churches still use several of these today. Are there any that we use? Are there new ones not included with the tent?
We can also think about how we get ready to do different things in our lives–to go places that are important to us, for example. How do we get ready to hear our Godly Play stories? Why is that important? How do we get ready to be with God? What do we do? How exactly do the routines we do help us get ready? Can we practice getting ready to be with God when we’re at home too? How would we do that?
One thing that the Godly Play script doesn’t highlight which you may want to include is the idea that all the people of God were invited to give something of their own to creating the tent of meeting–not just jewelry or fabric or wood, but their own craftsmanship. It was created by the people of God, for God.
Ideas for Art Response Time
This story is practically BURSTING with ideas for little hands–and big ones too!
I can easily see the activity time for this story beginning this Sunday, but continuing at least one other Sunday. Soon we’ll do the Ark and the Temple, so the work could easily continue with that story too.
Here are some that I came up with to add to your own. (And please, do feel free to write a comment to share your own ideas!)
Children might like to make their own collection of getting ready pieces like a menorah, an incense holder, a laver, an ark. They could make tiny pieces with clay or boxes or pieces of wood or whatever materials we have.
Or they could spend more time on making individual pieces. The menorahs above are made from a big clay “worm” in which popsicle sticks (which have been colored with crayons) are inserted. Sequins and beads have also been pressed into the clay.
Here are some websites with more great ideas and directions:
How to make a potato menorah:
How to make a menorah from clay:
Of course our children will come up with more creative ideas than we can!
Some things to ask them:
How could we make a laver?
(Wouldn’t it be fun to light some incense and see what it smells like?)
There are a few tablecloths folded up in the art supply room to serve as the tent fabric.
What if we brought blankets from home? We could even have a four layer tent, much like the tent is described in the Bible.
Once the tent is made, we could put all the pieces we created inside it. How would we separate the Holy of Holies?
Or we could make a small tabernacle out of cardboard and fabric.
There’s so much to think about. I can’t wait to see what your classes create! If you take photos, please share them with me. I’d love to add them to the parent newsletter!
Have fun, y’all! And for more ideas, including snack ideas for the lesson, see my Pinterest page on the story, here.