Wednesday, March 11, 2009
As not so many of you may know, that deeply controversial activist for all things human, Sarah Masen, my partner in crime and matrimony, has taken to attempting the education of children at the place called Downtown Presbyterian. Needless to say, she's amazing everyone. And I couldn't resist the temptation to post something she sent out to our congregants. There's so much here. So much that reads (as you'd've imagined) like a song. Enjoy:
Two weeks ago I attended a seminar on children's religious education at Trevecca University. We walked through Godly Play, a regimen similar to our Sunday school program. It focuses on story-telling and reflection using manipulatives (story-specific figures and props) and meditation techniques. I met a number of other area education directors from different congregations and traditions and enjoyed hearing about the successes and failures of their teaching adventures.
During a group discussion at the end of the day, a question arose concerning the pressure we often feel (be it illusory or otherwise) with regards to making sure the children are “learning the right things”. I suppose you could call it a trust issue. Letting a child hear a story from the Bible and giving them the space and means to reflect on it is something we are not inclined to do. My instinct is to tell them what I think the moral, the climax, the conflict, or resolution of the story is in my expert (somebody gag me) opinion. Simply telling them the story and getting out of the way isn’t the model I was given growing up in church. This may be one of the reasons I had little trust in my own ability to make good decisions as I got older. These days, however, I think of the church and children’s Sunday school as a place for discernment rehearsal. It is all we really do when we say we “study” the bible. We are grasping at the wonders and complexities (the mystery) of the bible as a healthy part of our psychological development. Maybe you are already there, but I was struck afresh with the enormity of leading a class full of children through the beginning stages of their spiritual journeys. I want to encourage them to trust their already-holy spirits that have them discerning (and sometimes saying) all manner of amazing things week after week.
I want to make sure you know that the opportunity to join me in this enormous endeavor is available to you. You will learn so much, and all that is required is a listening ear and a desire to be hospitable. I at least ask for you to pray about your potential involvement in the children’s programming. Write me if you want to sit in on a class with these little theologians. I guarantee if you are open, you will be sitting at the feet of great teachers (and I am SO not talking about myself).
Hope this finds everybody well.