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 Jesus Welcomes the Children, our story for February 16, a script I’ve written to share the scripture from Luke 18:15-17. The story script also alludes to several other stories from the Bible in which children play important parts, hopefully helping our children understand more of what Jesus is saying is important about how children think, love, believe, and trust.
I’ll include the script below, in case teachers from other churches would like to use it. (Just scroll down to the end of this post.) It’s been exciting for me to see our extra stories be used in churches all over the world! I hope this one works well for everyone.
Ideas for Response Time (Our Make a Gift for God Time!)
1. Children could celebrate Jesus welcoming the children by doing a collage of children’s faces from magazines. (There’s a big box of them in the art resource room near the door.) They could write the verse from Luke 18:17 at the top.
Or make a mural for your class, where each child draws themselves!
2. Children could make a puppet of themselves from a paper bag. We have lots of yarn for hair and fabric and all sorts of other things they could add. Could you video your kids using their puppets to sing Jesus Loves Me?
3.How about make a version of this? It comes from Growing Kids in Grace.
Children could write their own caption, using scripture or their own words.
4. How about letting the kids make story stones for Jesus and children- and maybe a disciple or two or parents. This idea comes from Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry.
Or you could make characters out of play clay or clothespins. Or whatever else kids think of!
5. You could always act out the story. My camera is on the blink right now, but if you have an iphone, send me the video and I’ll upload it for parents to see.
6. Older children might want to research Bible stories about children, and then share them with the class.
Miriam- Exodus 1:1-2:10
The boy who led a blind man
Samuel – 1Samuel 1-3
Isaac- Genesis 22:1-19
Ishmael-Genesis 16:1-13, 21:1-20
David – 1 Samuel 13
Mephibosheth-2 Samuel 4:4; 9:1-13
The widow’s son- 1Kings 17
Two boys saved from slavery-2 Kings 4:1-7
The Sunammite boy- 2 Kings 4: 8-37
The slave girl- 2 Kings 5: 1-16
King Josiah-2 Kings 22
King Joash-2 Kings 11, 12
Jesus as a boy-Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2, Luke 2:41-52
Nobleman’s son- John 4:46-54
Daughter of Jairus- Mark 5:22-43
Boy with the Loaves and Fish- Matthew 14:14-21; John 6: 5-13
Little sick boy-Mark 9:14-29
Rhoda- Acts 12:1-19
Paul’s nephew- Acts 23:1-22
Timothy- 2 Timothy 3:14-17
(This list is covered in the book, Children of the Bible, by Cindy Baw & Paul C. Brownlow)
You can find more art response ideas at my Pinterest site here.
Here’s the story script…
Jesus Welcomes the Children
Whenever Jesus came to a town, people wanted to go see him.
Add Jesus figure to the underlay.
If their bodies had sicknesses or if their hearts or minds were sick or sad, they hoped Jesus could heal them. They wanted to watch Jesus heal others and to hear Jesus’s stories about what is important to God.
One day when Jesus came to town, the people were very excited. They put down their work to go and be near him.
Add symbols of work- broom, wheelbarrow or bucket
Moms and dads wanted their children to see Jesus too. If Jesus would only touch them, how special that would be for their children! So they brought their children to the crowd around Jesus.
Add children figures
The disciples were there with Jesus as he spoke to the adults, and they saw the parents coming with their kids. Before the families could reach Jesus, the disciples stopped them in their tracks and said, “Jesus doesn’t have time for children. Don’t you see that he’s talking about important things? His time is too special to bother with kids.”
Add stop sign
But Jesus knew how important all children are. Jesus knew children could think important things and do important things, like loving and trusting.
I wonder if he thought of all the stories he’d heard in the temple about children, like the one about the little girl who was taken from her family in Israel as a slave.
Add Naaman figure.
When her master, Naaman, was sick with leprosy, she believed that God’s prophet Elisha could heal him. She suggested Naaman should go to Israel and see Elisha, and even though she was just a child, Naaman did what she said and he was healed.
I wonder if he thought of Samuel who served God in the temple, even as a little boy.
I wonder if he remembered the way Miriam, the big sister of Moses, followed her mother’s directions and put Moses in a basket in the river and stayed nearby, when the pharaoh said all Hebrew boys had to die.
Add Moses in basket.
When the princess found him, Miriam suggested the princess take him as her own and have Miriam’s mother be his nurse.
I wonder if Jesus thought of the little boy who offered to share his fish and bread with the hungry crowds who had come to hear him, and with Jesus’ help, there was enough food to feed thousands.
Add loaves and fish picture
Jesus knew how children think and love and believe and trust– how each of you think and love and believe and trust. He thought it was the best way to be of all.
Jesus saw the disciples shooing the children away and stopped talking to the adults so that he could call the children back.
Add Go sign.
He said to his friends, “Leave these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These kids are the God’s pride and joy. I’ll tell you something true: Unless you have their trusting kind of faith, you’ll never get inside the gates of the kingdom of God.”
Add children around Jesus figure.
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of this story.
2. I wonder what God loves most about you.
3. I wonder what God loves about the way you think and believe.
4. I wonder what God would like adults to learn from children.
I hope it works well for you!