Godly Play: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Godly Play?
Godly Play offers a creative, child-honoring way of entering into and experiencing the biblical story. In Godly Play, we play with the language of God and God’s People: our sacred stories, parables, liturgical actions and silence. Through this powerful language, through our wondering, through the community of players gathered together, we hear the deepest invitation of all: an invitation to come play with God.
This approach was developed and classroom-tested for over 25 years by Dr. Jerome Berryman, teacher, author and Episcopal priest. It is currently being used in churches of many denominations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
What Makes Godly Play Distinctive?
In Godly Play, we tell Bible stories to encourage children to enter the stories and relate them to their personal experience. It is concerned with the spiritual development of each child as an individual.
In Godly Play, each session follows the pattern of the service for Holy Communion, so children develop a deep understanding and enjoy fuller participation when they attend corporate worship. The class follows the Order of Worship: Getting ready, listening and responding to the Word (lesson), the Feast (Holy Communion) and Blessing and Dismissal (saying goodbye).
When We Arrive on Sunday, What Do We Do?
Before the 9:00 a.m. worship service, parents bring their children to The Godly Play Room located in The Annex.
We treat the Godly Play classrooms as a “sacred space.” Greeters help each child at the door become ready to enter the room quietly. After each session, each child receives personal words of blessing and affirmation from the storyteller. The storyteller and greeter walk the children back to the sanctuary to rejoin their parents for Holy Communion.
What Kinds of Projects Will My Child Do in Godly Play?
After the lesson, the teacher and children wonder together about the story. Then, each child chooses how to respond to the lesson with art or lesson materials. Every child has a personal folder that serves as a spiritual journal. This folder stays in the room to hold their work. We encourage children to take time on their projects.
How Will I Know If My Child Is Learning Anything?
One of the most important things we teach in this program is how Christian people live and work together in community. This is hard to measure. Many parents find their children begin to retell Bible stories and wonder aloud about the meaning of these stories.
What Are on the Shelves in the Classrooms?
These objects are the lesson materials that make the images of religious language come alive. In Godly Play, the teacher (storyteller) sits in the circle with the children on the floor, literally surrounded by our religious language system. The materials help us tell the story of the day and are placed in the middle of the circle, symbolizing the fact that God is present and accessible to all, children and adults alike. Working in the circle also helps us emphasize many aspects of being together in a Christian community.
Will My Child Bring Home Craft Projects?
The classroom has a good selection of quality art materials. Children bring different perspectives and responses to the stories they hear and so they choose the art medium they wish to use. Some students may work on one story for several weeks.
Will My Child Enjoy Godly Play?
One of the goals of Godly Play is to create a safe space for children, a place where their ideas, opinions, and gifts are deeply respected. Because everything in the classroom is designed for children to use and enjoy, most children look forward to coming to Godly Play