Sunday, February 13, 2011

Follow me!

After battling the flu and bronchitis for several weeks, I was very glad to be at Familienbrunch (Family Brunch) with the children from our church-planting project.  We are following the church calendar and have now entered into a series on the life of Jesus.  This week we heard the story called “Follow Me!” where Jesus ministers to people along the Sea of Galilee and calls his first disciples.  We are using material from Sonja Stewart’s Following Jesus book that draws from Godly Play and the work of Jerome Berryman.  (Unfortunately, neither of Dr. Stewart’s books have been translated into German, so I have to do my own translations.  If any of my German readers are interested in having access to my translations, just write me an e-mail and I’m happy to share.)

Here are some pictures of the materials that I used.  The figures are from Worship Woodworks in the States and from the Diakonie Leipzig that makes Godly Play materials in Germany.  The beautiful boot was made by one of my daughter’s teachers in the Nature Kindergarten that she attends.

“Follow Me!” is told in a lovely way that keeps the children’s attention and introduces them to the mystery of God.  The entire story is told without mentioning Jesus’ name – only the things he does and how he interacts with the people.  Then during the “Ergründungsgespräch” (“Wondering Phase”),  the storyteller asks the question, “I wonder if this man has a name?”  Of course, most of the children know already, but it is still a beautiful moment of revelation.  At the end of the story, I taught the children the song, “Jesus kann alles”, by Daniel Kallauch, which marvelously reiterates what was in the story.

Each week we have a time of prayer after hearing the story. Each child has the opportunity to pray, but does not have to.  I pass around a seashell or some other object from nature, and the child holds it while praying. Then it is passed to the next person when he is finished. Likewise, if the child does not want to pray, he passes it along, so that the next person knows it is their turn.  Since our story had to do with the sea, we passed around a shark’s tooth today that I found at a flea market.  (I love connecting children to nature, so I take every chance I get!)  I was encouraged this week, because a child, who for a long time was quite bothered by other people praying, chose himself to pray a very short, but sincere prayer.  I truly love observing the journey of children forming a relationship with God!
The lovely shark's tooth from Morocco via a flea market in Berlin.
 For the creative phase I offered the children acrylic paints.  This week I did not have a specific project, because I try to find a balance between the projects and allowing the children to freely process what is going on in their hearts and minds.  I do, however, tend to stick with one medium for several weeks, so that the children really get to know what they can do with that particular medium.  
An almost 4-year-old working with lots of color.: )

A 6-year-old thoughtfully planning his work.

Here are some of the children's responses:
This child painted a family of squirrels that after seeing them in the park frequently on his way to school.
This child painted dinosaurs after having thanked God for making them during the prayer time.
The almost 4-year-old told me that this was the desert.  She has drawn many desert paintings and I  think she is still thinking about the Old Testament stories that take place in the desert.  
Of course, playing with the story is always an option, which these two children chose.  The disciples are now sleeping, and the fish nets have become blankets for the baby sleeping peacefully in the boat.

I wish you a wonderful week!


  1. What an interesting idea to have the prayer time in between the story and the work / response time. Have you tried other places for it? "Teaching Godly Play" puts prayer in between serving and eating the feast, but I feel that's too long to make our smallest children wait - too tempting to eat too soon!

  2. At the Family Brunch, we actually eat before the children's worship service ever begins, so we don't have a feast time together. I've tried putting the prayer time after the creative phase, but the children are usually either too tired or scattered (we meet in the park in the summer) to concentrate. Since we've been meeting inside during the winter, I have brought them together at the end to say the Lord's Prayer and that has worked pretty well. But they would still be too tired and distracted at this point to formulate any sort of prayer on their own.: )