While talking to my friend, Kate, who is an art teacher in Texas, she mentioned that she knew of one church in the Dallas area that had a serious concept of art in its children’s program. I googled this church and did not find much specifically about art and children’s worship, but the website did mention that the children’s program was something called Godly Play. I immediately began to research Godly Play and found that it was Montessori-based, incorporated art, and would work with groups of children made up of different age groups. And if those weren’t enough reasons to be sold on it, I then found books in German about Godly Play and ordered them without thinking twice.
When I got back to Berlin in the fall, I and another mother began to experiment with telling the stories. I knew that we were on to something, but having never actually seen an experienced person tell the stories, we weren’t really sure what we were doing. Also, we found some of the questions during the Ergründingsgespräch (The Wondering Phase) to be a bit silly, because we didn’t understand the pedagogical philosophy behind it. Then, my dear friend Sarah, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts, suggested that I search for someone in Berlin who was doing Godly Play and talk to them about my questions. (Why didn’t I think of that?!!)
So I found the Godly Play Germany website and found they were having a “Kennenlernen Tag” in a month in Berlin! There, I met my friend and Godly Play Trainer, Ulrike. As soon as I heard and saw her tell the first story, I was hooked. This was truly an art form and a worship experience. The materials were beautiful; the language was simple, yet poetic; and I realized the questions helped adults and not just children think in a new way.
A few months later, I enrolled for a week-long course near Kölln (Cologne). About 500 Euros and 35 hours later, I became an official Godly Play Erzählerin (Storyteller). And it was worth every penny and second.
As with most important things in my life, I “stumbled” onto it at just the right time because of my heavenly Father’s gently leading. Not only has Godly Play enabled me to help children explore God in a way that I couldn’t have helped them before, it has also deepened my own relationship with God by helping me to ask questions and express things that I would never have asked before.
The woman on the left in the picture below is Ulrike and I learned most of what I know about Godly Play from her.
During our week-long course, each student had to prepare and present a story with an evaluation from the group afterwards. This is me telling the parable of the Pearl of Great Price.
This is the remarkable group of people that I studied with. We were comprised of seven Catholics, two from the Landeskirche (what we would call the state Protestant Church in English) and me from the Freikirche (non-state Protestant church). Quite an ecumenical group!