Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I wonder if there is any part we can leave out...

One of the wondering questions often used in Godly Play after presenting a Bible story is the following: "I wonder if there is any part we can leave out and still have all the story we need".

The challenge in our storytelling is to grasp what is essential and to omit the superfluous. Scripture itself is selective and often the biblical narratives use the bare minimum of language to convey the essence of the story. Too often when we tell these stories to children (or adults) we tend to elaborate on them and fill in the gaps, instead of allowing the children to thoughtfully read between the lines themselves. Godly Play seeks to employ the same economy of language as Jesus did, for example, in his parables. But there may be even more that we can leave out - hence the question for the children to ponder with us as, together, we seek to grasp the essential.

A couple of volunteers from my church congregation in Galicia have offered to carve some of the wooden figures used in Godly Play as we prepare the new classroom for the coming school year. I guess sculptors continually ask themselves the same wondering question: what more can be chiselled away before getting to the imagined object they have in mind? So throughout the creative process, the craftsman who produced, say, the beautiful donkey in the Holy Family set of figures (see illustration) will be wondering what else that is NOT a donkey can be carved away before finally reaching that which is essentially the donkey we need! The art is leaving out the unessential in order to focus on what really counts.

My church is currently celebrating the centenary of the construction of the rural chapel where we meet. A hundred years of tradition is something to celebrate! However, the leaders of the congregation are also aware that changes need to be made as the church faces the challenges of the twenty-first century. They need wisdom to balance tradition and renewal. "I wonder if there is anything we can leave out (or, perhaps, even add) and still have everything we need" was essentially the question that was in the air during the Reformation!

In October, my wife and I are moving house (again!) to be closer to the church and thus enhance our process of integration. There will not be as much space for all my stuff in the new house. "I wonder what I need to leave out (throw or give away) and still have everything I need" will be the question on my mind as I prepare boxes and attempt to de-clutter. Hmmm!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Creating a safe and welcoming space

Here's an extract from a summary report on the work of the Coming Generations Track at last year's Scripture Engagement Forum at Melaka, Malaysia. The full report can be found here.
The Coming Generations track comprised about 40 people from every continent [...] The main themes of the track focused on how we can release the potential of young people’s interaction with God’s word [...]

Creating a safe and welcoming space

When young people perceive that we are listening and authentically sharing our own lives with them, a safe space is created where they can feel confident to explore Scripture. In such a space, we are affirming that no question or comment will be rejected and that no right/wrong response will be demanded.

Godly Play® models an approach that provides a safe sacred space for children to explore the Bible. Led by David Pritchard, we were - as children - invited slowly and thoughtfully into the story of the Old Testament patriarchs in ways that engaged our imagination and left us ‘wondering’ at the mystery of God, and at his invitation to be part of his story. This was a space characterised more by silence and simplicity than noise or clutter. As we became engrossed in the story, the storyteller (David Pritchard) became almost invisible: direct connection had been made between the story and the ‘children’. This is a deliberate intention in Godly Play®.

In a safe space, what is the role of the adult? We were challenged to take a step back and let God do what he wants to do in the group and among its individuals - to allow the Bible, his word, to speak for itself [...]

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Godly Play classroom / 2

The creation of resource materials for the new Godly Play classroom in Castiñeiras (Coruña province, NW Spain) is well underway. Good progress is being made, with a team of volunteers from the congregation of Castiñeiras Evangelical Church working on the materials in their spare time during the summer with the intention of completely equipping the classroom for the start of the new school year.

It seems that we won't have to purchase any of the resources from Godly Play suppliers, as the volunteers are skilled and motivated enough to do the entire job themselves. This is quite remarkable and extremely beneficial: the volunteers will have the satisfaction that the fruit of their work will be used regularly in the Sunday school for many years to come - and it will certainly save the church some money!

The artefacts have been lovingly crafted to a high standard of excellence - really top quality! It will be wonderful to see how the children respond to them!

I hope you enjoy the pictures here of this part of the creative process. More photos will be added as other materials are produced.