Why is it called Godly Play?
It is Godly Play because all are invited by God to come and to play. Brenda Leigh Timmer, a Godly Play trainer working in South Africa, says ‘‘What makes it Godly Play is the delight-filled, surprising and life-giving playful engagement of God.’ A deep understanding of what it means really to play and an appreciation of the central role of play in the life and learning of children is fundamental to this approach to God.
Is it ‘just for children’?
Adults, in many settings, also find Godly Play invaluable for their ongoing journey of discipleship.
Godly Play is for everyone, the smaller group context allows everyone to be valued and welcomed as an individual. Fundamental to Godly Play is a focus on the vital importance of childhood spirituality for everyone. It is not intended to exclude anyone.
What age of children does it work for?
People of any age can benefit from a Godly Play approach. Our vision is that childhood spirituality should be taken seriously; and childhood is foundational to every life. The approach can support the spiritual quest of people of any age. Young people are discovering Godly Play, as are those who support older people, including those living with dementia.
What do I need to get started?
Godly Play UK is delighted to help you discover this approach. Throughout the year across England and Wales, we offer experience sessions, introductory day events, three-day training opportunities. There is a network of storytellers, advocates and trainers spread across the regions that can support you in this discovery. New ways of offering all this are currently being developed for virtual, on-line environments: Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Scotland please contact our sister organisation Godly Play Scotland.
What will it cost? Is it expensive?
Perhaps the biggest expense is time: time to develop your understanding of the foundational principals; time to gain experience and training in the practice of Godly Play. There is a financial cost in the sourcing of materials and scripts, although increasingly there is a network of resource libraries emerging, which allow storytellers to borrow items on a short-term basis. Over time, when this financial investment is compared to the alternatives, we are confident that the approach provides great value, both in the time and financial investment involved. Most people start small and build up materials over time. Many of the items required can be homemade or bought from our UK-based supplier https://shop.stmichaelsworkshop.com
Does it work?
Yes! Although we would encourage a conversation and reflection on how you might measure success. But overwhelmingly feedback from those who practise this approach is positive. A local trainer, advocate, or storyteller may be willing to offer a Godly Play session in your context, to let you and your community experience Godly Play for yourselves.
Why do you need training?
It is a great experience to undertake training. In addition to discovering the skills and understanding to make the most of the Godly Play approach, many people report a widening and deepening appreciation of their own spiritual awareness. Godly Play is distinctive, and we want to support storytellers and door people to develop confidence in this unique approach. In Godly Play, there is so much to learn, and we find the learning goes on, and on …
What is the theology behind it?
Godly Play begins with a foundational theology of the spirituality of childhood. The basic assumption is that children know God; they know what it is to play hide-and-seek with the elusive presence of God within themselves and in the world.
How does it fit with Messy Church?
Godly Play and Messy Church are each distinct and different.
Fundamental to Godly Play is the opportunity for wondering, an understanding of sacred space, an appreciation of the value of silence, a small group size and a particular expression of hospitality. Godly Play offers a free response time that does not include prescribed activities.
Messy Church has a clear focus on the values of being all-age, Christ-centred, creative, offering celebration and hospitality. It would be quite normal and fitting for churches to offer both approaches, at different times. One does not cancel the other.
What is the ideal size of a circle?
The ideal size of a circle depends on context, the space available and who is involved. The wonder of Godly Play is that it works with just a few in a small space, but it can also work with a whole class of children if the session and space are carefully planned. What is key is that everyone has the opportunity to see the story, hear and be heard by the storyteller, and speak if they want to.
Can you use Godly Play in different contexts?
Godly Play seems to flourish in many settings: with children and with adults in church contexts, in the family home, in schools, in care homes, online, in hospitals or at a bedside.