Friday, February 12, 2010

6. two kids books that influenced me greatly

My list of books that influenced me greatly this past decade would not be complete without acknowledging that, yes, there have been two books that were written for children that have changed my life significantly.

The first is a method we have used for our kid's ministry in Oasis. It is called Godly Play. The Godly Play method features:

1. Simple story-telling without the hype. Through this quiet, deliberate and thoughtful method of story-telling, children have time and space to "wonder" about the story.

2. Wondering. After the story is told, the children consider a few simple "wondering questions". These wondering questions are not "yes or no" kinds of questions. Rather, they help the children enter into the story and interface it with their own life. My kids have often shown me new things in Bible stories through this wondering time, things I would have never noticed had I not taken the time to look at the story through the eyes of a child.

3. Speaking of that, Godly Play is not age-specific. The story is appropriate for any age, even adults. Younger children are free to wonder about the story on their level and older children can wonder in a more complex fashion. There is no need to separate out children by age group with Godly Play. This helps them grow accustomed to much-needed diversity and helps the children learn to be mindful of others.

4. Response. Once the story has been told and the children have had a chance to "wonder" about the story, there is a time for response. During the response time, the children have many options available to them. In a typical "Sunday School" this would be the time where the "craft" happens, but what's different about Godly Play is that the children are not given all the same craft to do; they are free to use their imagination as to how they'd like to respond to the story.

5. Godly Play is holistic. First, the children are visually reminded every week of the story that binds all Christians together: the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Second, the children are visually surrounded by the entire story of the Bible and have access to it any week of the year. Third, there is time for simple fellowship, free singing, meal sharing and voluntary prayer. This part of the Godly Play session is called "the feast" and it is designed to prepare children for communion and its essence: family.

There is more, but suffice to say this children's ministry method has changed me significantly.

Another children's book that has influenced me is The Young Reader's Bible. It has been our family custom these past 6 or 7 years to have a time in the morning before the kids go to school to say a few short prayers and read a short story from this particular Bible. I've lost track of how many times we've gone through it, but I'm glad we've done it because it has been a much-needed reminder to me of simple, unchanging truths concerning God and his people. Often, I find myself reflecting on the goodness of God through these simple children's stories.

I list these two books as particularly influential for me because learning to view my faith through the eyes of children has been wonderfully liberating. Maybe you'd like to try the same.

No comments: