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Godly Play - The Aftermath

8 October, 2003 9:41 AM

godlyplay.jpg Thanks to those who asked how our Godly Play time went last night in the last posts comments and via email. Thanks also to those who prayed for us last night - I appreciate everyones interest in what we're up to.

How did it go? - Personally I felt it went really well. The group probably thought I was a little nuts when I started explaining it, but they through themselves into it.

We used Luke 15 (the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son). I read each story and then we paused for a time of 'wondering' (as outlined in the last post). I had prepared some of my own 'wonderings' to get the ball rolling, but didn't need them at all as the group took the initiative. The only rule I set at the start was that if you wanted to say something you had to phrase it as an 'I wonder...statement or question. While we played with the passage we also played with play-doh to help us get into a more playful frame of mind. (see pictures)

godlyplay2.jpgThere were a number of things I liked about the activity.

* Its an all ages way of engaging with Scripture. Our youngest member Yol (who is 10) got into the play-doh and wondering along with the rest of us and had some good things to contribute to the conversations.

* The wondering process is actually a very freeing experience. You can wonder anything at all without having to worry about someone correcting you, without having to come up with something deeply profound. Its actually quite fun to do as a group. I also loved that it approached Scripture in a much more imaginative and dreamlike way. Not that I don't like the academic/thinking approach (we're going to do that next week) but sometimes I think we think way way too much about it all. Jesus told stories that evoke the imagination, that leave the listener questioning, that are often open ended - perhaps we need to relearn how to listen to them. Godly play is a good starting point.

* Its a truly collaborative experience. There will be periods of silence during the activity and then one person will wonder something which will often stimulate a stream of others to wonder things related but adding to the first. It was amazing how quickly we got to some quite profound insights purely though asking questions.

godlyplay3.jpg* In each of the three parables I felt we really explored well. I tried to write down all the 'wonderings' of the group so I could reflect back to them what they had said - as I look back over the list now I'm quite staggered by the depth we went to and by the new thoughts that came out that I'd never considered before. We ended up looking at each story from a whole heap of perspectives.

In all it was well worth the effort. In fact I think its something that could be used in all kinds of settings. I'd like to experiment with it in a larger gathering both in small groups and big ones. I think it will be very useful for me in my private reading of the bible and in sermon preparation and I also think it would be good for a worship team trying to plan a service with a particular passage.

I could talk about this for ages, but I'll leave it at that - if you want to know more about how we did it feel free to converse with me via email or in comments.



Thanks for the description, Darren -- very helpful.

Back in April on my blog, I wrote, "Perhaps all that postmodern touchy-feely, multi-sensory stuff is really kid stuff." Which in itself may help folks who are struggling with the question, "What do we do with the kids?"

Jon » 8 October, 2003 10:06 AM

Think I might use this with my group (teens) on beach mission.

Christop » 8 October, 2003 10:18 AM

I'm really wanting to try this with the college/career/young marrieds group i'm a part of (we take turns leading a night of study). I just have a couple questions though.

How did "conclude" the exercise? Did you try to make some conclusions and give some answers, or just leave it as an open-ended time of exploring and wondering, leaving each person to work through the implications on their own afterwards?

Also, how do you handle "wonderings" that can be easily answered by someone with the information? For example, suppose someone says "I wonder if Paul had a wife?" Obviously, someone else probably knows that no, according to Paul himself, he was single. Do you leave the incorrect "wondering" alone and ignore it, or do you find a way to answer it?

I'm just curious; I'd love to know how this works out.

Jonathan » 9 October, 2003 1:02 AM

Ta for the questions Jonathan,

how did we conclude? The last time of wondering came to a natural end when the phone rang (one of the joys of house churches!). After we finished we had a bit of a debrief. We talked about the exercise it self and what we liked and didn't like about it. Some talked about some of the things that they'd felt challenged by in the process. I didn't preach or make any major points at the end, but rather just shared what I'd felt and been challenged by to. I didn't feel any major need to tie it all up neatly because I'd felt that God had actually led us through the passages pretty comprehensively in our 'wondering'. Having said this, if I'd felt it was right I would have taken a different approach if I sensed that was what was needed.

As far as 'incorrect' or 'answerable' wonderings - there were a few times when I wanted to jump into the exercise and draw on my bible college training - however I resisted during the process and in the debrief there was some clarification - not only by me but the group too.

hope that helps Jonathan - I'd say give it a go and see what happens. Its the type of process you can mould to suit different groups.

Darren Rowse » 9 October, 2003 8:46 AM

The session sounds really interesting, and sounds like you got to the essence of the wonderment section. I have been reflecting on my experiences of using it at Graceway and in the UK, and it remains an exciting worship media of the use of the re-imagination as a vehicle for relationship building with God. If you think about iy, what we are doing is re-constituting the transcendent in worship - which makes us a community listen to God and respond to God speaking through worship. It really is one of the first things I have found that holds and nurtures adults and children in shared worship. Alas, I don't have much opportunity at the moment to do it here - but I am scheming!!

Keep going using it, all our reflections are really helping, and I will keep adding things into the moot blog as I find them!!

Finally, on the transcendent theme - I have made some links between Godly Play and some of Bruggemann's writing which I will write up I think for my MA, so will keep you posted on that one.

Cheers, Ian Mobsby
www.moot.uk.net www.mootblog.net

Ian Mobsby » 19 October, 2003 6:48 PM

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