Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend residential training for Christian educators

This past weekend (28-30 May), I have been leading some residential training near Madrid on working with children for a small group of Christian educators. This event forms part of the regular annual programme of the Asociación de Educadores Evangélicos de Madrid (Madrid Christian Educators Association), run in partnership with Unión Bíblica (Scripture Union Spain). The training is based on the course Working with Children Today, which I put together many years ago and continue to update regularly.

On this occasion, only four people took part in the course. They were from churches in Madrid and Aranjuez, and included school RE teachers, leaders of summer camp programmes, child minders and Sunday school teachers. Despite the low numbers, there was a good spirit in the group and plenty of motivation to learn and share. Here are a few of their comments on the closing feedback sheet:
  • "I really liked this course!"
  • "Just right! It's helped me a lot!"
  • "Great! Many thanks!"
  • "I am really grateful for everything I have learned. Thank you!"
The next training in this series is scheduled for the end of September.

Godly Play at a national conference for Christian medical staff

At their latest national conference, which took place this past weekend (28-30 May) near Madrid, the Spanish Christian Medical Fellowship, Unión Médica Evangélica (AME), agreed that their morning worship should consist of Godly Play stories.

So, I was happy to lead two half-hour sessions on consecutive mornings before breakfast, presenting the classic stories of The Great Family and The Parable of the Good Shepherd. These presentations aroused a great deal of interest from the group, and many useful conversations took place subsequently during the breaks for coffee and lunch on subjects such as chaplaincy services in children's hospitals, training in pastoral ministry to children, child spirituality, etc. I am expecting to receive follow-up invitations from several of the participants to develop work in these areas through Godly Play workshops and seminars.

More photos of this event can be found here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Godly Play weekend in Valencia

I'm writing this post in Madrid, in between Godly Play presentations last weekend in Valencia and a residential training event on working with children this coming weekend here in the Spanish capital. So, here's my report on the first of those two activities.

Last Saturday (22 May), I was invited to lead a Godly Play introductory day in Valencia, organised by the First Baptist Church of Valencia and the 'Bona Nova' Evangelical Church, in partnership with Unión Bíblica (Scripture Union Spain). The event was attended by a group of 21 educators, both professional school teachers as well as volunteer Sunday school staff. They represented 3 local churches in Valencia city and another church in the nearby town of Xátiva.

Some of the participants had experienced Godly Play in the past at other training events, but for others it was totally new. In general, the feedback was really positive and a core group of participants expressed interest in attending workshops in Godly Play to learn the nuts and bolts of this method. A date has been reserved later this year for the first of this series of workshops: Saturday, 13 November. The staff at the First Baptist Church have also revealed their plans for transforming one of their classrooms into a permanent space in which to offer Godly Play to the children of their congregation.

The following day was Pentecost Sunday. At the First Baptist Church, two Godly Play classes were organised, the first for young children and the second for the older age group. Both groups responded very well to the wondering questions related to their respective stories: The Parable of the Good Shepherd, in the case of the younger children, and The Mystery of Pentecost, in that of the older group.

In the first session, there were many young children crowded into a rather limited space, and a number of adult observers also attended - which is not to be recommended in a normal Godly Play class. Even so, the children responded very well to the story during the response time, choosing a variety of art and craft media, as well as the materials of the parable itself. We also enjoyed sharing the feast together. In the same way, the older children responded creatively to the Tower of Babel and Pentecost stories although, unfortunately, there was not enough time that Sunday morning to celebrate the feast with them.

Some of the aldult observers were staff workers at the Valencia City Mission, who were inquiring about how Godly Play might be used with the children who have contact with the mission. So, it seems there may well be many other trips back to Valencia over the next couple of years!

Click on the following links to see more pictures of the Godly Play introduction and the children's classes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Godly Play classroom / 1

I'll be using this blog to update you from time to time on our progress in setting up a new Godly Play classroom at my church in the rural area of Castiñeiras, in NW Spain. The target is to have the classroom fully operational by September 2010, when classes will begin with a small group of children aged 3 to 6.

The Evangelical chapel at Castiñeiras is celebrating its centenary this year. However, this church community is presently renovating the rooms on the upstairs floors - and one of them will be totally dedicated to Godly Play! This is good news indeed!

Although the room is rather small, I have thought carefully about how to maximize the space. It was originally one of the rooms in the missionaries' residence over the chapel when it was built in 1910 - and includes a fireplace! However one of the pieces of furniture especially designed for the GP classroom will carefully fit in the space used for the hearth.

The room is very bright as natural light streams in from two windows, overlooking the surrounding fields and nearby beach. Its solid wood floor, rafters, doors, etc. have recently been revarnished and polished, and the walls painted.

I am really surprised how quickly the church carpenter and his team have produced the furniture for the new classroom after I had submitted to him the design for the shelves. They were ready in time for a Godly Play workshop we held earlier this month in a larger adjacent room.

Here are some practical principles about designing and organizing Godly Play space that will be guiding us as we continue to develop our own classroom.

You can see more photos here of the present stage of development. Please revisit this blog from time to time for further updates on our progress!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk

On the 5-6 Junio, millions of Christians will be taking part in the World Weekend of Prayer for children at risk, coordinated by the international network of Christian NGOs, Viva.

Scripture Union Spain (Unión Bíblica), in partnership with Grain of Wheat (La Semilla de Trigo), are promoting this weekend of concentrated prayer for children in need through our own network of contacts. From Viva's website, practical resources for this event can be downloaded, including a Prayer Guide in Spanish, that has been carefully prepared and edited, and includes information, testimonies, prayer topics and activities for promoting creative prayer in groups of both children and adults.

The Viva website contains a number of other Resources in English, such as a PowerPoint presentation, a guide for children's activities, posters, etc. I have been busy translating some of this material into Spanish to complement the prayer guide.

These materials will be used with the children at my church in Castiñeiras over the next couple of weeks, and I will be leading a special service at church on 6 June. I hope you will also consider joining the millions of Christians who will be praying for the children whom Jesus referred to in several strong statements, such as when he said: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones".

Training updates

I have been leading several training events recently. Here's an update on news since my last post.

On 17 Abril, I was in Durango (in the Basque Country) leading an introductory day on Godly Play. This was organized by Scripture Union Spain (Unión Bíblica) in partnership with the National Department for Christian Education of the Federation of Assemblies of God in Spain.

16 religious education teachers and Sunday school teachers attended the event, representing several Evangelical churches in Durango, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Valladolid and Vitoria, and also from a Catholic community in Durango.

You can see more photos of this event here.

The following weekend (23-24 April), I was in the town of Onda (Castellón), leading a second module of SU Spain's basic training course Working with Children Today. This was organised in partnership with the 'Vida Nueva' Evangelical Church in Castellón de la Plana and the 'Bona Nova' Evangelical Church in Onda. The 18 Sunday school teachers who took part in this training event were from these two churches.

The programme also included a brief introduction to Godly Play. On the following Sunday (26 April), I was able to preach at the local church and also present the Godly Play story of the 'Synagogue and Upper Room' to the entire congregation.

More photos of this weekend training are available here.

Taking advantage of these two weekend events, I drove to Madrid to see some of our family, and then on to Salou (in Tarragona) to view a number of hotels as possible venues for our forthcoming II National Godly Play Conference, which we hope will take place at this popular seaside resort in October 2011. This meant that my all-round 10-day trip from Galicia to the Basque Country, Madrid, Tarragona, Castellón, Madrid, and finally back to Galicia, involved over 2,000 km of coast-to-coast driving in my car laden with materials for two different courses!

Finally, back in Galicia at my home church in Castiñeiras (A Coruña), on Saturday, 8 May, I led the first of a series of Godly Play workshops. This first one focused on Jesus' parables of the kingdom.

13 people, members of Evangelical churches in Castiñeiras-Riveira, Ferrol and Santiago de Compostela, took part in this practical training workshop.

After getting acquainted with, practising and presenting the main guiding parables used in Godly Play, the participants got involved in a brief hands-on session of creating their own teaching resources for these same parables.

Here you can view more photos of this workshop.