A Note from Our Children's Director
I have loved being with children as long as I can remember! My heart is that church is a place children meet their Heavenly Father who declares they are beloved in Jesus and deeply valuable to the Kingdom of God. We need their voices, insights and their joy to help us be the body of Christ.
At Trinity Church we use a holistic and participatory approach to children’s faith formation, integrating Montessori teaching techniques with children hearing Scripture. In the early years we invite children to engage Scripture with their whole being. Story telling, wondering, art and sharing Scripture, prayer and feasting happen in community where we practice loving God, our neighbors and ourselves. This “living into the Gospel” helps children build a firm foundation as they grow into their unique and special callings.
I love the liturgical church year rhythms that help children slow down and become aware of the deep mystery of the season. In Sunday School, we use Advent and Lent stories and activities to “get ready” for Christmas and Easter feasting. Supporting families in their spiritual practices at home is also a joy. The Godly Play volunteer team has a been a rich community to grow in faith and wonder at the work of the Spirit in the children and ourselves.
If you are visiting, you are more than welcome to put your child/ren in one of our Sunday school Classrooms (PK – 6th grade), and stay with them to sample how we attend to children’s relationships with Jesus. Please contact Julia Barger for more information, or to ask about anything we offer!
What is Godly Play?
We introduce our PK - 6th grade children to the Scriptures through listening to and "playing" the Biblical stories. Our trained storytellers walk the children through the grand overarching narrative of the Old and New Testament (around 40 stories), alternating each year.
Children respond each Sunday to the stories through "I wonder" questions and unstructured art sessions (oil pastel, watercolor, clay), acting, or re-playing the story and working with the wooden story figures on their own. Their session closes with prayer and a feast.
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say “do it again;” and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again!” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again!” to the moon. For we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. – G. K. Chesterton
Message from Julie Canlis:
I’ve been teaching this style of Sunday School since my oldest child was five years old – 10 years ago. What I’ve seen is that kids who cycle through these stories a few times are able to enter them on increasingly deep levels. I have yet to find a child who wasn’t more excited the second (or third, or fourth!) time through a story cycle, which lasts approximately a year. The way the stories are told gives space for the child to appropriate them at their level of maturity. It is not so much that children need ever-new stories (and ever-new ways of being entertained), but the stories change as the child changes.
All our storied scripts are taken from Scripture, and come primarily from books by Sonja Stewart: Young Children and Worship and Following Jesus. What makes this curriculum unusual is the Montessori method in which they are taught – which works from the principle that children learn best by doing and playing. So – we ‘play’ the Bible stories. Using wooden figures and scripts with minimal words, the Scriptures come alive for the children who respond both through art and questions.
Shaping their Biblical Imagination:
We are committed to telling Scripture to children in such a way that they can enter the stories deeply and personally. Our goal is not pat answers, but an encounter with Christ. We find that this best happens when the story is told quietly and compellingly, followed by a series of questions where the children get to ‘wonder’ together. Questions we ask are: I wonder what was your favorite part of the story? I wonder what was the most important part? I wonder how you would feel if Jesus looked at you? (… and other story-specific questions). I wonder where you are in this story, or if something like this has happened to you? I wonder if we can take away any part of this story, and still have all the story that we need? During this time, the children share deeply and relate their own lives to the story. Following this ‘wondering’ time, the children respond further through art or quiet play – again, allowing the story to have its way with them in the deepest places in their lives and hearts.
Currently we have children grades PK through 6th grade who are slowly absorbing the central drama of the Scriptures over and over again.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life and serve in different capacities.
Doorkeepers greet kids at the door, keep the space calm, and help tidy at the end.
Storytellers retell the day’s story, with help of a script and wooden figures.
All volunteers have attended the church for at least 6 months, and have gone through an application process, child safety training, and have agreed to follow our Policy for the Protection of Children.
Sample "wondering" session:
This happened earlier this year, after the story of Jesus choosing the twelve disciples.
Storyteller: ‘Why do you think Jesus chose these 12, when there were hundreds of other disciples?’
Kid1: ‘Because they loved God the most’
Kid2: ‘Wait a minute – he called Judas too.’
Rumblings of a debate among the children. Did Jesus know Judas’ heart was bad? Why would Jesus pick him if he knew his heart was bad?
Storyteller: ‘How did Judas feel when he was called?’
Kid3: ‘He felt special, and nervous because maybe he wasn’t as good as Jesus thought he was.’
Kid4: ‘I know … maybe Jesus didn’t call the best ones. Maybe he called the worst!’
Kid5: ‘That would be a bad idea. Why would he pick the worst ones?’
Storyteller: ‘What do you guys think? If you were picking a football team, would you pick the 12 best or worst?’
Unanimous: the 12 best!
Storyteller: ‘So why would Jesus pick the 12 worst?’
Kid6: ‘Because they could change the most!’ General agreement.
Kid7: ‘Nope, even the best ones can change. And they can change a lot!’