04 June 2011

not the be-all and end-all

Sometimes I'm so gung-ho about Godly Play that people might think that I believe it's the be-all and end-all of Christian education for children. This post is to say that that's not the case!

Two days ago I told my godchild the story of Samuel. We weren't in our Godly Play classroom, we weren't in church, we were sitting outside in a quiet moment in between playing at my house.

This was not the Godly Play, Volume 6 -version of the story. That version covers the whole of Samuel's life and more, beginning with the ark being carried to Shiloh and ending with Samuel's death. The Godly Play materials include three coats, each one larger than the previous, marking the passage of time as Hanna visits him each year with a new coat as he grows up. But that version of the story gives relatively little emphasis to the episode in which Samuel hears God's voice in the night and mistakes it for Eli:
...Samuel thought it must be Eli calling, so he went to him. But Eli did not call him, and he told Samuel to go lie down. This happened three times, until Eli realized that God must be calling Samuel...
John Singleton Copley (public domain image)

In contrast, what I told my godchild was only this episode. I started off weak... (This wasn't a rehearsed story, and I almost got entangled in why it was that Samuel lived at the temple).

But soon I found my stride, and I told just the story of the boy Samuel lying in his bed at night, and hearing, Samuel! And then him going to Eli and asking, What? And Eli saying, What what? I didn't say anything. And Samuel going back to bed.

What a great story it is! I confess to hamming it up a bit. The second time Samuel went to Eli, the godchild was giggling. By the third time, Samuel was fed up: WHAT do you WANT!? --I didn't say anything! cried poor Eli, for the third time. I was loud, I was animated, I was making eye-contact with my "audience". And my godchild was laughing with delight.


  1. a whole different type of storytelling! love it!

  2. I have to remind myself also that there are other great forms of children's ministry. One of the drawbacks to GP is that it is not easily reproducible when training new children's workers. Not everyone wants to or can do it. There is a young woman in our church plant who wants to use drama in the children's ministry and we are currently trying to figure out a way to use her ideas.


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