My oldest son is almost 5. Every Sunday we attempt to reinforce the Sunday School lesson by asking him what it was about. We have been encouraged by the Children's Ministries director to do so. Our church uses Godly Play in the 5 and under crowd. Godly Play roughly follows the church calendar and uses all types of mediums (figurines, colored blocks, sand, art, water, music, drama, pieces of colored felt, and so forth) to talk about the creation story, the parables of Jesus, Noah's ark, Advent, the Nativity, and Easter, etc.
Every single Sunday without fail for the last six months we have asked our almost 5 year old, what was your Sunday school lesson about and every single time without fail he says, "oh it was about guns. Yeah and then we shooted people and I shot so-and-so deader." Lovely.
Today my husband and I helped with Children's Fellowship. So knowing that today they did not learn about guns and armed with both the children's lesson from big church and the movie that coincided with it during fellowship time, I dutifully asked my almost 5 year old, "so what was Sunday school about today?" And he said, just as dutifully, "oh, we had a really short story about guns." I said, "oh really? I thought today's lesson was about trees." And he said, "no that was what we did in the Clubhouse mom, not Sunday school." (Note: the Clubhouse is where the kids are corralled during worship). "Ah, I see. What else did we do in the Clubhouse?" I asked. Here is the following transcript:
Son: "Oh, we watched a movie about trees."
Mom: "Tell me about those trees."
Son: "Well there were three of them."
Mom: "I wonder what they wanted." (Note: Godly play does a lot of wondering. Almost every question starts with, I wonder...)
Son: "Well one wanted to be a treasure chest, but he ended up as a manger for the animals."
Mom: "What about the second one?"
Son: "Oh he was a fishing boat."
Mom: "I see. And the third one?"
Son: "I don't know."
Mom: "Didn't it become a cross?"
Son: "yeah that's it."
Mom: "Well I wonder who went in that manger?"
Son: "Jesus did. But I bet that first tree was disappointed. He really wanted to be a treasure chest."
Mom: "Well, but that manger held the greatest treasure of all. That's where Jesus was born." Son: "Yeah, but he wanted to be a treasure chest, not a manger."
Mom: "True. But don't you think he was something even better? (Moving on) What about the boat?"
Son: "I don't know."
Mom: "Jesus was on that boat calming the storm, remember."
Son: Shrugged his shoulders, not really that interested.
Mom: "And what about that cross? Who was on the cross?"
Mom: "Well, not God exactly, but his son Jesus. Do you know why he was there?"
Son: "He died."
Mom: "That's true. Do you know why he died?"
Son: "Because he was really really old."
Mom: Trying not to laugh... "Well not exactly. He died for us." Frantically thinking how to put the crucifixion delicately. "He died to take away our sin so we can be closer to God."
Mom: "Do you know what sin is?"
Mom: "Well when we do things that disappoint God it's called sin. Like when you get in trouble with mom and dad for doing stuff you shouldn't do. What do you think God does about that stuff?"
Son: "Does he hit us?"
Mom: OH CRAP! No more spankings! "No Owen. God doesn't hit. God loves us."
Son: "Does he beat us up and take our stuff?"
Mom: "Are you being silly? No Owen. God asked Jesus to take our sins away so we can be closer to him always and forever."
Mom: "You know what? After Jesus died, three days later he came back to life."
Son: "How did he do that?"
Mom: "God brought him back to life and then took him to heaven."
Son: "So when we get dead, are we going to come back alive?"
Mom: "Well, we will be alive again in heaven after we die. God brings us up to heaven to be alive with him."
Son: "Is that further away than space?"
Mom: "Yes it's so far away we can't even see it."
Son: "Cool. Can I have some more crackers now?"
I wonder who learned more here? Mommy or Child? What will you wonder about this week?