"Playfulness is another word for Grace" Yup, you can quote me.
So, how can we teach the faith, model the faith and be the faith? This is a big question for Christians, and I'm going to suggest that one avenue just might be playfulness. Yup, the bish is suggesting that a worthwhile investment for a church or a neghborhood might be increasing playfulness. More recess, better playgrounds and extra free time might be the single best contribution to the education and sunday school program at your church. Lisa and I have been talking about this a bit, following our marvelous exposure to an Episcopal priest who lead a discussion on playfulness. The Rev Nancy introduced us to a playful approach to children's ministry called "Godly Play." Good stuff. But not just for kids. Lisa's probably gonna preach on this topic for Sunday. I think I'm going with a 40 minute dissertation of eschatological implications of postmodern understandings of adolescent behavior amongst church council members living in homes heated by solar powered nuclear generators in northern iceland.
While attending a two day continuing education event at the Center for Family Process, I watched with tears in my eyes as the story of life and faith and hope was told to adults using a childlike playfulness. We sat in a circle as little figures were displayed on a felt circle. One could easily dismiss it as child's play, but if you let yourself go, you could discover Jesus. Not the television Jesus, not the law and order Jesus, not the political Jesus, but the Light of the World, the mystery of all mysteries, the love and hope and center of everything.
People are doing amazing creative and beautiful things in children and youth education today. The progressive side of the Christian church, when it frees it self from the shackles of outdated education models is discovering new ways of helping people re-discovert the wonder and beauty of a life of faith.
Meet Natalie Bloomquist. I took this photo of her, in her office at Emanuel Lutheran in Hartford, CT, where she serves as Christian Education leader.
Natalie has been making some great strides in education. She's also teaching some confirmation students and trying to get the parents to buy in on the value of confirmation. It's an uphill battle, but she's moving the ball and making progress. I saw her last month and we strategized on one idea, mostly hers, of engaging the students using modern technology. So, later this month, I'll be doing a conversation with middle schoolers from Emanuel on Skype. Most of her students have no idea what a Bishop is or does or looks like (Hmmmm, I'm still trying to figure that one out) Anyway, we'll have a Skype chat, maybe do some texting and tweets. Engage, interact, play?
It'll be playful, will it be substantive? Hmmmm, depends on the questions. My experience is that young people ask the best questions, so I'm thinkin' yeah, it'll work.
I'm also mindful of something called the hidden curriculum. The idea is that the method and/or experience of the learning process communicates something of significance. If Playfulness is another word for Grace, maybe we'll connect on multiple levels. I'll let you know about our success and failures along the way.
What are you doing in the area of education?