Play in Messy Church?
Messy Church has five foundational values: All- Ages Together, Celebration, Christ-Centered, Creativity, and Hospitality. I wonder though, especially during these summer months, how can we create play experiences to all ages together at? Playing together deepens relationships, builds trust and strengthens community.
Think back to your childhood. What are your favorite memories of play. Did you like to play by yourself or with others? Did you enjoy games or sports? Or did you get lost in your imagination?
At the workshop on Play presented by Joy Wendling at the Intergenerate Conference, we began with a small group exercise. We were asked to share a favorite play memory from our childhood. All three of us mentioned that a favorite activity was to go outside to a nearby creek. However, our play at the creek was expressed differently. One shared how they loved to make roads and bridges and even garages for their large collection of toy cars both alone and with others. Another person shared that they rarely played alone but loved to join other family or friends at the creek and would organize and create a variety of different activities. I shared that I enjoyed being alone at the creek engaging my active imagination.
This workshop and my further reading on Play by Dr. Stuart Brown have expanded my thoughts about the importance of play for all ages. I have learned that play is not the same thing for all people. Just as we learn in a variety of ways, we also have preferences in how we play. We are all created uniquely beautiful! I am convinced that play at Messy Church can be a worship experience!
8 Play Personalities
Take a moment to read about these eight personalities of Play from Brown’s book as you reflect on how your community engages in play at your Messy Church.
- The Joker: Play always revolves around some kind of nonsense…goofy, brings levity, shares jokes
- The Kinesthete: Likes to move but competition is not the focus. A kinesthete naturally wants to push their bodies and feel the result.
- The Explorer: Prefer exploration as their way of play to remain creative and provoke the imagination. Can be physical, i.e. going to a new location or emotional, i.e. through music movement, or even mental i.e. researching a new subject
- The Competitor: Like to break through the euphoria and creativity of play by enjoying a competitive game with specific rules. Enjoys (maybe prefers) to always win.
- The Director: Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. They are born organizers
- The Collector: The thrill of play for collector is to have and to hold the most, the best, the most interesting collection of objects or experiences.
- The Artist/ Creator: Joy is found in making things. The point is to make something- something beautiful, functional or even goofy. They may share their creations to world or may never show anyone what they make
- The Storyteller: Imagination is the key to play for the storyteller. They are novelists, playwrights, cartoonists, etc. However, a storyteller can experience joy by reading or watching movies, making themselves part of the story.
 Brown, Stuart. 2010.Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. New York, New York: Avery