Children are providing their own unique insights into scripture as they Dwell in the Word in the St Mark and All Saints Benefice in Reading. The Revd Jo Williams describes how.
“Peace is the most important thing, you have to say that first,” was the response of children as one five-year-old led us in wondering about how we could tell people about the kingdom.
The children had just heard the Luke 10 vs 1-12 passage for the first time. We talked about who we might tell, and what we might say. The children continued talking about the importance of peace: “Yes, that way they will know you are a friend… we say peace to everyone when we (high five/fist bump) after the story.”
Peace for the whole church
The children realised it was the same peace that Jesus gave us all. As well as our formal process of Dwelling at the start of every church meeting, our youngsters engage with the passage in our monthly children’s service. We read straight from the NIV Bible, occasionally simplifying a more complex word or phrase for clarity and using visual prompts in the style of a Godly Play story.
To help children and adults speak about what they were noticing we use wondering questions, “I wonder what you liked best?”, “I wonder what you particularly noticed in the story today?”, and sometimes, “I wonder what part of the story is about you?"
We found this helped even the two- and three-year-olds to participate. Dwelling is helping our whole church to engage with scripture in a new way.
Bible passages are not just stories to be taught but texts to be reflected on. It helps us learn to be attentive to each other and to God. This reminds me that just nine verses on from the passage we have been studying Jesus says: “You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children”.
Tips for dwelling with children under 10
- Choose your translation carefully – if necessary, simplify any complex words or phrases. (Issue one of Pathways used the International Children’s Bible for the Dwelling in the Word passage.)
- Use pictures or symbols to help children follow the passage – even preverbal children can indicate what they notice in a visual story.
- Allow the text to speak for itself - try not to interpret.
- Use open-ended questions to get people talking about what they notice.
- Repeat back what you hear people saying.