Friday, August 31, 2012

Godly Play: Paul's Discovery

Most Godly Play storytellers present Paul's Discovery, about the life of the Apostle Paul, in the spring after Pentecost. But because our church plant only has two Sunday gatherings a month, we finally got to it in July. This is a longer story that gives some historical background into Paul's world. It emphasizes the drastic change that occurred in Paul and why he so was transformed. 

As you can see, the materials are reminiscent of The Faces of Easter, about the life of Christ. Like Faces, it is a biographical story told with pictures laid in chronological order.  The red underlay reminds the listeners of the Holy Spirit and the season of Pentecost. 

To make the panels, I ordered prints by the German artist, Juliana Heidenreich, from the Diakonie Leipzig, the Godly Play supplier in Germany. I then mounted them on wooden panels, and finished them off with a coat of matte varnish. 

Because this story is so long, I chose to tell it in two parts. On the first Sunday, we heard the first three panels that depict Paul's early life up until he meets the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. 

Although the children present had heard the story of Paul's conversion many times in children's Bibles, they hung on every word of the story. When I stopped after the third panel, they begged me to go on. But since I wanted them to really have a chance to digest what they had heard, and because I had not yet had a chance to memorize the rest of the story (!), I gently told them that I would continue at our next children's service. 

At our next gathering, I told the second half of Paul's story, which deals with how he was  transformed by God's love and able to teach others to love as well. The listeners also hear about Paul's calling and how he used all of his gifts to do what God asked of him. 

Everyone knows that working with children is very unpredictable. While they hung on every word of Part 1, they seemed quite distracted during Part 2. During the Wondering, one child was a bit upset that no one knows exactly how Paul died. 

Another child drew ships both times during the creative phase, perhaps due to a combination of hearing about Paul's shipwrecks and a recent visit to the Deutsche Museum in Munich, which has a vast collection of historic sailing ships.  I love seeing the connections that children make!


  1. Thanks for this. This is one lesson I've still never gotten around to making materials for, and so have never presented. It's helpful to read about someone else's experiences with it.

    1. You're welcome! I also put off doing it for so long, because of having to get the materials together to make the panels. But I think that it is a story that I will tell each year. Maybe even for the Easter Club next year (even though it's a Pentecost story!).

  2. Regarding the "connections that children make", look forward to the delicious "mess" that's deliberately created in The Holy Trinity synthesis when The Creation plaques and those you have used in this story of Paul's Discovery are mingled with the Faces of Easter. When the children get to know each of these stories quite well, this synthesis can really take off and become mind blowing!

    1. I look forward to that, too! I wanted to do that enrichment lesson after Easter, but of course I didn't have the Paul canvases ready to do it. Hopefully next year!