Between Bible Club (at Church) and park Bible Club (shorter and more evangelistic) I try to have a brief game-time. This usually consists of an organized game that everybody can play together
The truth is I struggle with game-time because it doesn’t directly teach Scripture, and it’s a lot harder to control 🙂
The “organized chaos” of game-time used to go like this
- I explain the rules and they play properly for a few minutes
- One of the boys begins playing football (soccer) with it
- This devolves into a game of soccer with the boys who refuse to share with anyone else
- Once order has been restored, we go a few other minutes before children begin to complain the other team has an unfair advantage.
- This is followed by loudly calling out “you see!” every time they win and pouting with tears
- Often things towards the end turn into free-play that inevitably ends in more tears and a skinned kneee or arm
So why allow game-time to continue?
Because it allows me to bring structure into the chaos
The thing is it doesn’t take a lot to bring structure into chaos. You just have to have rules, and implement them.
Oh and you have to be a heartless jerk
While I’m a kind-hearted person during game-time I go into full-fledged “jerk mode”
- If you play football instead of the proper game you sit down and watch everyone else play
- If you say complain more than once about not being fair you can go home instead of playing
- Every “you-see!” is met with a time out, and I have no compassion whatsoever for your fake tears
- And while “Dr. John” is sympathetic to game-time injuries, I won’t tolerate too much craziness during free play
In a sense the children are used to getting their way (through complaint, tears, or refusal to listen) and because following through with rules is exhausting (trust me I know) they usually get what they want.
Which is why game-time is such an important part of ministry…there must be an area where they are told “no” regardless of how much they whine, complain, or throw a temper tantrum.
Of course that is a place to be filled by their parents, but for now I as a spiritual parent must fill it.
Down the road from the Church is a park where I go for a very short-time to share Bible stories each day. I used to spend a lot of time there, but it is an extremely “toxic environment” with children fighting, cursing each other, and showing little respect for others.
The reason for this is they don’t have anyone who tells them no.
There is a lady there whose supposed to keep control, but she never interacts with them at all. She sits in one spot and shouts to stop if they kick a ball or fight too much, other than that there are no rules.
Sadly in much of society children are in environments like this left to rule themselves. And because of this a part of ministry is creating a place where children are told lovingly but firmly “no”