Trinity Evangelical Divinity School/Sacred Play Cohort

Deerfield, Illinois
2022

Project Director: Mimi Larson

To explore how sacred play in a worship setting engages children in making meaning of their faith, while also discovering creative ways of enhancing worship for both children and congregations.

Summarize your grant project and how it will address a need in your worshiping community. 

Because we understand that play is a primary way children learn, we would like to explore how sacred play in a worship setting engages children in making meaning of their faith, with hope in discovering creative ways of enhancing worship for both children and congregations.  The goal of this project is for five different congregations to engage and explore how to incorporate play as a sacred act that encourages children to encounter God in worship.

What two questions might you ask about worship in the coming year that will generate theological reflection and shape your project? 

How can worship be both sacred and a playful act?  How might incorporating children within a worship service engage different and creative ways to worship that will enhance the entire intergenerational community's formation? 

How will your project impact the worship life and habits of the congregation?

We believe that worship can be viewed not just as a vocal or auditory experience, but an experience that is hands-on or kinesthetic as well.  Worship is both an action and a laboratory where we can practice different ways of engaging with God.  Sacred play is not only an opportunity to engage in worship kinesthetically, it provides us a vision on how our worship and relationship with God can be both a holy and playful act.  Could this experience with play impact other areas of congregational life and intergenerational activities?  Our hope is that a congregation’s imagination is broadened so that sacred play can be incorporated into other areas of the congregational life. 

What might be your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

    There are several challenges we are facing.  The first - for us as leaders - is to hold the tension between sacred and play.  Another challenge is for the leadership and congregation to embrace different, creative, and playful actions in worship.  And last, but very significant, is the fact that many congregations do not embrace children in the worship service. So to encourage having children, let alone playful children, might cause some resistance or resentment towards our efforts. 

    What do you hope to learn from the Grants Event and other grant recipients?

    We are looking forward to seeing other creative endeavors - to engage in worship in ways that we have not thought about or that might encourage all generations to come together and worship God.  We also are looking forward to hearing the questions others are asking so that our minds are stretched and our ideas are challenged and encouraged.