Friday, July 13, 2012

Parable of the Two Sons

A few weeks ago, I shared the Young Children and Worship story, The Parable of the Two Sons, from Matthew 21:28-32. In general, I feel that YCW stories lack a certain depth that Godly Play stories possess. Following Jesus, the second of the YCW books, says that it is a resource for three to eight-year-olds. Godly Play, on the other hand, can be quite effective with adults. I do tell YCW stories, though, mainly because there are some interesting biblical accounts that are not included in the GP "canon". Like this one.

At first glance, one might think this is the story better known as the Prodigal Son. However, Jesus told this parable when the religious leaders of his day wanted to know where his authority came from. In this parable, a father asks one son to work in the vineyard. The son says, "No," but then changes his mind and harvests the grapes anyway. The second son, when asked, replies, "Yes," but then refuses to do the work.

The story ends with Jesus telling the religious leaders that the tax collectors and sinners are like the first son and that they themselves are like the second son. The tax collectors and sinners changed their ways and will come into the Kingdom of God first.

On the one hand, the YCW story does very clearly explain the story to the children who are listening. Indeed, the children who heard this story were paying very close attention, even an 8-year-old who was present. But somehow, the story was more of a "retelling" of the parable and something was missing for me. The mystery was lacking and there wasn't much to wonder about at the end. However, I would definitely tell it again to children, to help them become familiar with this story.

During the Wondering, one of the children present seemed to identify with the second son. "Because I don't always obey my parents," he said. Interesting . . . 

The materials above are from Worship Workworks. While beautiful, they were very expensive and were a gift from my mother to our children's ministry.

Do any of you do YCW as well as Godly Play? How do you feel about the differences?


  1. I very much agree with your comment about depth, nonetheless, I have got YCW and am considering getting the 2nd volume for the same reason, in as much as it does help fill in some more of the details. I think this would be especially helpful when asked to tell stories in church or a large group when perhaps the wondering isn't used or when a certain passage is needed to be told. I have used the story of Bartimaeus and this was good. I think however, I added some phrases that were part of the Faces of Easter version - depth again...However, I think these stories could work well at L'Arche when sharing the Gospel.

  2. Interesting. I wouldn't have thought of the word "depth" but I think I agree. I sometimes find that the YCW stories (I have only the first volume) lack completeness as stories. They can feel like they're going to fall flat. There's not the sense of getting somewhere. I'm probably not explaining myself well - mental note to try to write a blog post on this!! :)

    (OTOH, I *love* the YCW Ascension Day story, and frequently use the Palm Sunday / Jesus the King one, too.)

  3. Hey Ladies, Thanks for your insight! I agree that YCW helps fill the gaps, especially with stories that tell about the life and work of Jesus. And Featherglen, I would definitely recommend getting "Following Jesus", the second volume. For the stories that are included in the GP canon, I would always use the GP version, though. Maybe a possible exception would be working with under 3's.

  4. Sheila,

    I was so interested in your take on this, as I "made" this story several many years ago. I copied the pattern from the back of the book, painstakingly colored it, and then cut out all those grape/vines/leaves. I can't IMAGINE why I thought it needed all that (now you know why my blog is entitled "What Can We Leave Out..."!). Using what appears to be printed cloth is genius!

    Our teachers tend to use YCW mostly for the younger class (4 year olds through 2nd grade). Our main complaint with Following Jesus is that the wondering questions are just far too leading for us - we prefer the good ol' questions that don't lead to a specific answer. "Lacking depth" is an excellent description of my feelings.

    Cheers! I love your comments on various stories!

    1. Jill,

      You said that so well: ". . . the wondering questions are far too leading for us ." That is one of the things that I am trying to communicate when I say that the YCW stories lack depth.

      As far as the materials go, I had to chuckle about your story of making all the grapes. Sounds like something I would do! The grape-printed material is a great idea. Only I don't know where you would find it for a DIY project.

      I just love these conversations! It's the reason I started blogging in the first place.

      Thanks so much for adding your input!