Guest Post: A Glimpse into Godly Play

by Glenys Nellist

I am sitting in a circle of children listening to the storyteller. She tells the story slowly, her eyes downward, focused on twelve little wooden characters as she moves them up the mountain. There is a lot of silence. The children listen. They watch, and they wonder. Wondering is a very real part of this environment, where biblical stories are retold, but not explained, and little minds are at work, making meaning out of mystery.

And as the storyteller asks the questions, the children know they do not have to answer ....because these are just things to ponder. There are no prizes to be earned for the correct response, no popcorn to be won, no gimmicks to entice involvement. Only the wondering...

I wonder how the twelve disciples feel being called to be with Jesus?

I wonder what they said when they told the news of the Kingdom of God?

I wonder how the people felt when they heard it?

And into the space and silence, a little boy ventures a one word response...

Happy

Mmm.. I wonder why they would feel happy? asks the storyteller.

Maybe because it's good news, he says, smiling.

And now it is my turn to wonder....how does he know that? How does one so young know that the kingdom of God is good news? 
Unless, of course, the kingdom belongs to him?

And just like the upside down teachings of Jesus-  we who plan, and prepare our lessons so diligently, we who hold our 'learning objectives' like a measuring rod in our minds.....
must remember that when we set out to teach our children, it's actually they who end up teaching us. It is they who understand kingdom concepts better than we, even if they cannot put it into words. 

And as a teacher, surely this is what I must strive towards-  to nurture that spirituality already present within the child; to value the pondering, the wondering, the space created by silence, and trust that God is at work in ways that can never be measured. 

This is a hard approach for me, because it requires that I change.

But I know that in the upside down kingdom, I must change and become like a little child, in order to let the child teach me.

Learn about Godly Play

This post originally appeared here and was reposted with permission.