Sunday Reflection: Beyond Words

Somedays the words don’t make their way to the paper, even though I am still being influenced by this weeks readings.

It is weeks like this that I think of children with their limited vocablaries, those through illness or accident with limited capacity to verbalise or write. Sometimes in our lives our emotions overide our capacity to express ourselves in a verbal or written sense. I know that like me, when words fail, we have other ways of praising, sharing, expressing ourselves.

And 10% of us are dyslexic. I remember my own daughter’s struggle to find God was frustrated by worship material only being available in written format, where Sunday School meant reading aloud from the Bible and then responding to written question. She was not alone, I struggled too in trying to find material that she could relate too. Messy Church has only been around for a decade and though Godly Play has been around for decades, a product of the Berryman’s own search to find a good way of teaching children, especially their own daughter, it was not until after my daughter had walked away from the church that my studies introduced me to this method.

This is one of the reasons I often suggest play, singing, colouring-in, or craft as a response to the RCL readings in this weekly blog. Why I move away from wordsearches, written responses to questions, or private reading when I make suggestions for All-age or Family based worship.

As a teacher, I have always used multi-sense methods of teaching, never one method alone.

Like Godly Play I am influenced by the work of Montessori, but also Steiner, even though I teach and have been educated through the mainstream channels, where more theorists are using multi-sensory models now.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram some of what is below you willl have seen.

Everything was a response to the Bible readings either this week or last week.

They were as much an outpouring of my response as a production for other’s consumption, that is they were my spiritual response. I hope they spark a response in you.

This was my response to Ephesians 6:10-20, every one is putting on protective gear these days, so I extrapolated away from the idea of Roman war attire as appropriate to the time of writing and thought about our present day situation

I created a game board for the same reading. You need to print 2 then cut one up and then match up the protective garment pictures.

At the start of the week, I created some inspiration to bring a spiritual dimension into our 2 hour exercise walks(where I live we are in lockdown due to the rising presence of th COVID-19 infection, delta varient, and the lack of innoculations). This had been inspired by Ephesians 5:15-20. Use the ideas each day to find Biblical references or to spark prayer.


Wendy L.

If you would like to use any of these please acknowledge my work, thank you.



This 4thSunday of Lent is an abundance of RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) readings that are wonderful for Intergenerational faith formation, or children and family ministry.


So why Intergenerational Faith Formation, because these readings can easily be understood by all making them easily fit the definition “spirit of God is at work formatively-through the community’s worship, through the teaching, modelling and mentoring relationships, and through spiritually empowered and gifted roles –in special and unique ways when believers across the lifespan are present and participating together” [1]

And why Child and Family Ministry, because it is ministry to families especially where children are 18 years of age or younger, which includes equipping them to live out their faith with their children, which is important because faith formation infamilies has been shown to have the largest, and lengthiest influence.[2]


Of this week’s readings, the most obvious is the Gospel Reading, from Luke 15:11-32, often labelled as the Prodigal son story. This story can be interpreted in many ways and from many perspectives, it can be understood by the most literal of learner, and dissected by the most academic of minds.


I find it interesting during my own reflection on this reading that this year I am thinking of the piece from the viewpoint of none of the mentioned players but wonder what would the women in the family have been seeing in the story. Until now I had related to the oldest son, even though I’m female. I relate as the eldest, my younger siblings arriving and making greater demands on my parents. My feelings of jealously are expressed and possibly vindicated in this story. I then reflect not from my perspective as a Christian that came to Christ as a child, I see my confusion when others are embraced back into the worshipping community who have not stayed true to the faith. Have I been taken advantage of by my faith community? As I plodded on with my studies believing in a misdirected idea of “call”, I have watched others newer to the race find “callings” while I have not. Yes, I see a message in this story for this situation too. I am also understanding the theological depths of God’s love and Kingdom, as we bring to being God’s Kingdom on earth.

I’m sharing my thoughts on this passage, not just as a faith journal diary viewpoint but to express how intense this passage can be for one person, imagine this played out for many worshipping or sharing together.


How wonderful it is to be introduced to the notion that this passage can last a lifetime, that each 3rdyear we get an opportunity to revisit and hear how others are travelling by sharing this story, and that each time we share it we can find a different touch stone to our own lives, faith community experience and theological experience.

To take this passage into our homes and share it as family devotion time too is a privilege.  As the lived reality extends into the week and our 24/7 lives is a wonderful opportunity, especially when Intergenerational Faith Worship is not a part of your faith communities worshipping experience.

But it must be shared, it requires an exchange of experience not a top down example of learning. So how can we extend that into our families worship time. Not everyone can speak elegantly, let everyone contemplate this passage their way.

SO Write about it,

OR speak about it,

OR build a Lego model about it,

OR draw about it,

OR create a multimedia about it,

OR  Sing about it.

And listen, observe, be open and share in a safe and valued manner.Who of us understands the totality of God!


But we are not done. There is another passage this week that contributes to Child and Family Ministry and Intergenerational Faith Formation, it is the First Reading, taken from Joshua 5:9-12. Passover. A unifying ritual of the wandering community. And as communities and families we too experience the importance of coming together. In Congregations, this is in the rituals of significant days such as Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas, Annunciation etc. In families, we join for birthday’s, anniversaries, deaths, engagements, graduations etc. This coming together defines the community and reinforces the idea of who we are and with whom we belong. Create it, collect together and build family and faith communities. At home, start with a gathering of the clan, generational gathering on a regular basis, and if single or separated from biological groupings create your own, invite friends or possible friends, and don’t just stick to generational friends expand it out and invite the sticky nose from down the road for a meal too! and add grace, or a blessing or a reading to the agenda. Why be afraid of making a faith statement? Someone else may be wanting to do it too!


Wendy L



[1]Allen, Holly Catterton and Ross, Christine Lawton, Intergenerational Christian Formation: bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship. (2012, Intervarsity Press, Illanois) p. 20. For a broader set of definitions see pp.18-21


[2]One such study


I find this the best time to pick up little bits and pieces for the children’s worship space.

And if you are a parent this is a great time to pick up some items that you can use with your little ones at church during worship and still have at home, to reinforce the service message during the week.

I love shopping, or rather browsing at this time of the year in Australia. The holiday’s are over and I find this the best time to pick up little bits and pieces for the children’s worship space. All those crowded spaces are easy to move around in. The shopping centres are cool and inviting on a hot day and so I  want to encourage you to shop. Yep. Shop. It’s also a great time to pick up genuine bargains after the post christmas sales. And don’t forget that there is nothing nicer than internet shopping after a long hot day out and about either.

About this time last year I posted on how to set up the basics for a Church worship space, so recheck that blog  Spiritual Delights or Toy Box tat! As some of those places have since closed down, I will be changing some ideas and adding to that first list.

By the way I have now set up 3 church children’s worship spaces and am more than happy to help you out with yours. Just contact me here.

Please note that it is also important to include items that are significant to the area or culture of your congregation.

My general rule of thumb is, 1) no noisy toys, toys that make sound themselves, these toys are for use in worship and should not distract other worshippers from their worship.

2) They should be able to be regularly, hygienically cleaned

3) made of as natural and non-toxic materials as possible.

4) the aim is for spiritual play. Not entertainment.

I am educationally influenced by Montessori, Piaget, etc.

I love Ikea, they are well tested, recall when needed and most toys are built to last. Most products can be washed and even tumble dried. Also Ikea is a very family friendly place to shop. If you find things like I’ve suggested elsewhere then please feel free to buy those. The idea, not the product is my aim here.

There are still some heart cushions available, great for expressing the idea that God is Love, and God loves you

Definitely heart bears: reason as above.

play food: this one has loaves and fishes so perfect for “feeding the crowd”, communion, “

Lion, perfect size for small hands, great for story of Daniel or Joseph and faith  symbolism

Other animals in this series are great for general play and respond to ideas of how to act as a community. And for parents they easily fit in the back pack for church.

This Lion is super large and makes a great cushion or faith statement in the Children’s worship area,

Pigs, the prodigal son, or

Little People Great for imaginative play, crowds, people, retelling stories.

Boat Great for stories of Jesus and the disciples on the water, or fishing or Jonah or Paul.

Building Blocks  Ideal for free expression, building walls, or cities, even the tower of Babel.

Idea’s you won’t find in Ikea

Play mats, such as a city landscape

Safe mirror like this one in Target Theme: God loves You

Duplo’s creative play -my first emotions Good for emotions of psalms or a recreation of a Bible story. Might be useful.

Nesting sets, especially the blank ones. Great for recreating faith stories, or imaginative play.

drawing figurine, great for showing emotions, so, good for interpreting Psalms, and the emotions in Bible stories.

Rainbow jigsaw puzzle. God’s promise.

Noah’s ark

Nativity set

Baby dolls, especially mixed race and gender.

Battery operated candles

CRAFT Bits and pieces

Thick coloured paper

Paper plates

Drawing paper or scrap books

Crepe paper, i love this for texture and for it’s ability to break easily, and that it can be purchased in rolls or longer pieces.

My preferred drawing implement is washable textas’, They can be easily wiped off skin or pews. Not all washable texta’s are well washable, i love Crayola.

Crayons don’t, in my experience wash off, and pencils always need sharpening at the wrong time and seem to become an easy weapon.

I love felt, especially stiffened felt, as they make good backgrounds on which to stick felt pieces,

Felt pieces, or squares of many colours great for recreating Bible stories with.

I stay clear of foam as it breaks and becomes a chocking hazard.

Musical Instruments

Buy handkerchiefs to sway to the rhythm

Buy or make soft shackers

Anything else that does not have an overpowering sound ( it does not need to compete with the organ or band)

Have fun setting up your worship space or buying things to take in their church bags. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and encourage your little one to find an expression for their spiritual development.

Let us know what else you find useful so we can share our ideas.


Wendy L.



What does a Quokka have to do with worship?

Please meet our QuokkaIMG_2629

a toy version of an Australian marsupial

You may well ask “what are you showing us that for?  then even ask ” But he belongs on the other side of the country anyway?” if you know a little something about Quokka’s and where I write from, Melbourne, Australia.

He is our latest attempt to satisfy Church Councils Outreach objectives.

I have been working with an amazing group of people, everyone blessed with a different skill set, but everyone focused on finding ways to engage the community in which we live. They are also unique in that they all implicitly have an understanding of spiritual formation.

My favourite book  on  Children’s Spirituality is one by Rebecca Nye ( Children’s Spirituality- What is it and Why it matters, 2000, Church house London). It explains why such a diverse bunch as our group could understand it so well, even when being blessed with very different skill sets. And though Nye differentiates Adult spirituality as being about particular experiences (p.7) and children’s as being more holistic (p.8), she does concede that they are connected in two ways, “first, a key task for adult spiritual maturity is to “become like a child” —–Secondly, children become adults and so carry forward their spiritual formation.(p.11). Speaking for my self I would be honoured if you think I’m spiritually “Childish”.

So though Methodism started with an outreach to the worker, we, in what could be defined as an “affluent suburb”, saw our mission as reengaging the community with the idea of worship. The thing that is missing from their lives.

Don’t get me wrong we do participate in some traditional forms of mission. But we have a steady stream of community who use our facilities everyday for everything other than the purpose they were built for, too worship.

Now I don’t think Quokka, chosen because he is Australia’s most photogenic marsupial, after a few alternative suggestions, can do that on his own.

We have employed him to hold signs up around the sanctuary during the week to educate anyone curious about what happens in that space.

Here is our Minister in one of the signs In Church Pulpit, I have his permission to use this one (that’s trust!). We have used simple words and a picture of the area of the church in use, so that all may understand.

We have also used the signs to make a book.

We have created a families worship space at the front of the church, IMG_2619IMG_2619and are creating a children’s activity space in the foyer, where caregivers who feel that they need to leave the service can go, and where our youngest visitors during the week will always be welcome to read, play or rest.

Many of our parishioners, take the time to smile or say hello to those that use our facilities, we have a new website, multimedia slide presentations. We have a fountain made for an anniversary by the children of the congregation that attracts all visitors.

We don’t have a child and family minister, ( just an ex one).

We are still a missional church our outreach audience and methods are a little different, that’s all. But hey, wasn’t Jesus, a little different too, and encouraging of the children in the communities he preached! We hope that we have followed in that.

So what is your mission, and how does that include children’s spirituality.


Wendy L.

Are we abusing the senior church members by not being intergenerational?

I had a stimulating discussion last week, with someone who has done much to advance the cause of Child and Family Ministry in Australia. During  that conversation, what has, to me, become a very common question with respect to anything to do with children in the church came up and that is the question about whether the concept/practice is abusive to the children? We were, on this occasion, discussing the issue of children in worship. Many people have written about this issue, either academically or within the blogging community so there are a few views out there, on both sides of the fence. Now I could dive in and add to the body of work. But I started to think differently about this issue. Are we abusing the senior church members by not being intergenerational?

These are some of the things that came quickly to mind.

What we have learnt about the ageing brain is that if we don’t use it we lose it, we need to stay engaged and we will not continue to grow our mind by doing the same things. Change and challenge is an essential part of maintaining brain health in the elderly. When we change our worship processes we are staying engaged, our minds are being stimulated.

As a teacher, I learnt about multiple intelligences. In a traditional worship service, we may not be engaging all of our ways of learning, thus by introducing different ways of learning into the worship experience we are opening our seniors up to stimulation and change. This may not be happening in other areas of their lives.

In an intergenerational environment, everyones experience can inspire others and it is an environment that encourages the senior to share their experience and to be valued for whom they are. Their more complex life stories can encourage and inspire others.

One of the experiences I valued most was the smile that would cross an elderly wheelchair bound member of our community, when the children were moved to the front of the church and she could see them. She had no children or grandchildren, and during worship was the only time that her life was filled by the wonders of children.

The Australian Human rights Commission, states that

There are certain human rights and freedoms that are particularly relevant to older people, including the right to:

• an adequate standard of living including access to adequate food, clothing and housing• the highest possible standard of physical and mental health
• work and fair working conditions
• be safe and free from violence

• be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

• privacy
• family life.

Click to access HRA_older.pdf


At church we often feed body and soul,

Our elderly often “work” alongside others

we need to work for a safe environment for all

as a Child of God, they are participating in God’s family.

Thus church is a place where these human rights can be experienced, an Intergenerational experience at church is one that deepens these opportunities, and allows opportunity to grow, or at best maintain brain function.

To abuse is to not allow the senior to experience their rights. Rather than placing them on the outer, an Intergenerational approach seeks to engage all, value everyone, and experience worship in a multi intelligent format.

Now over to you


Wendy L.

The Opportunity

As I put together the resources for Tuesday’s blog, on helping the 3’s and under relate to the Revised Common Lectionary readings of the week

My attention was drawn to the Gospel reading, easy I thought, loaves and fishes story again, easy! Then I realised it was only one part of the scripture Mark 6: 30-34 and 54-56.

The loaves and the fishes story was not a part of the reading.

The first part of the reading had my attention as I realised that it was every parents cry. “Just give me time to myself”, but the response is interesting, instead of diverting themselves to another quiet space, Jesus “had compassion (for the crowd) for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (NRSV). He cared enough for the disciples to suggest some quiet time, and cared enough for those needing them to care for them himself. What an image it paints for parents everywhere, struggling with that delicate balance of needs, mine and theirs.

I remember being told the story of Suzanna Wesley, throwing her apron over her head to “pray”, and that all the children, John and Charles Wesley included, knew this was the time to leave her alone as she needed to spend this time with God.

Then I came across and her suggestion to use the wonderful book FIVE MINUTES PEACE BY  JILL MURPHY to explain this reading. There the poor mother struggles to find time alone, only to be joined by her children. How similar and yet how different to this weeks Bible Reading. Jesus wanted “to shepherd the sheep”, he seemed energised in His compassion, and continued teaching.

Our children want to be with us, just like the “crowd wanted to be with Jesus and the disciples. Just like Mrs Larges’s children. We have much to teach them, to find faith, how to worship, how to do community. Sitting in the pew on Sunday may be the time you crave to yourself or with your Maker. But it might also be the teaching moment that you have been given with your children.

May you chose wisely


Wendy L.



Engaging kids

I’ve been making an effort to travel with my husband both for business and pleasure. Travelling can be hard on a partnership but so can the separations. So a note to those caring for couples that experience separation due to work commitments, there really is no “one size fits all” solution. Both situations have their advantages and disadvantages for the families and those of us caring for this increasingly common situation need to be mindful that caring for a family in the midst of any crisis is what our calling is about. We need to love more, judge less.

But that’s actually not what I feel called to write about. I have taken more interest in the ways that the different countries value and interact with children. Now that I am no longer travelling with children, I have the luxury of observing. How can I judge. I have my fair share of cranky, overtired, out of routine and time zone episodes. Mmm unfortunately I’m not just talking about the children!!

I’m noticing more children’s play area’s in the world’s airports. In Portugal last year I even discovered children’s toilets at a train station. Museums, art galleries and classic arts such as music and theatre are making more effort to engage children in the exhibits or performances. Interactive displays at children’s height has almost become the norm. But I can’t name one church that I have visited lately, either at home or abroad that makes any effort to engage the younger visitor outside of worship services.

What is the artwork about, how is the stained glass used or what are the stories they’re telling? What are the buildings used for? How do we use them? What happens when people aren’t allowed to wonder around them? Why is the cross like this here and like that in the church down the road? If we fail to engage our youngest visitors, educate or excite them, will the museums and galleries be more significant to people of the future, than our churches have been in previous centuries? Do we really believe these monuments will continue to speak to future generations?

It is not just worship that is changing. How we engage, outreach and treat our faith monuments are also up for review.

Let me know what your church is doing to engage children outside of worship.


Wendy Lewis

Faith Parenting is 24/7

A really quick post today. Just to let you know of a new and older book that can help your faith parenting 24/7, and some websites that might also be of interest.

The new Godly Play book, Godly Play at Home has just been released and you can download it on Kindle and have it in double quick time.

As we all know, we are only at church for about 1 hour a week, which means that faith formation is mainly done away from the church. So every little idea that helps you connect with your child about faith is important. So this book is a valid addition .

If you haven’t come across Robbie Castleman’s Book Parenting in the Pew, also downloadable on Kindle

this is one of my favourites for inspiring you to persevere, with that 1 hour a week at church.

You might enjoy this family bible study from forward movement

A website for faith families

OR can be multilingual so check if it’s available in your home language.

OR maybe this is more suited to your belief system

What ever you do with your 24/7. We are told the most important stepping stone of faith formation is relationship, so work on building a great relationship with your child from the beginning. And use anything suggested on this page as a way of building that relationship.



A Lent Revelation: It makes scents!

This Lent, as is my want I did a couple of Lenten studies, and kept my eye on a few more that I had recommended to families.

One of my personal favourite studies for the last 3 years is created by the ministry team at A Sanctified Art

and involves mindfulness colouring in, I love completing this late at night, I have found so much has revealed itself to me as I prayerfully colour away.

If looking for a similar family practice, involving mindful colouring in, head to Children’s Illustrated Ministry.

But it was not in these practices or Brueggemann’s wise counsel, that I found my Lenten message. No. It was mother nature herself. I knew that she had finally gotten through to me when I was at the Saturday Vigil and realised that I could not smell any Australian scents, no Eucalyptus, no lemon eucalyt, no Australian mint, no wattle. I sat under an imported beech tree, and nearby was an oak, behind me was an olive tree, there was English lavender and rosemary, all beautiful scents in their own way. And I realised that all through lent I had been watching, and smelling God’s marvels as they walked me through Lent.


Lent started on Valentine’s Day, and the garden was reenergised experiencing its final blooms for the summer period. The roses, were opening, red, orange and white colours splashed around the garden, the wisteria was popping out for a confused final say, the magnolia tree which usually starts in December was still bursting open, the Lemon Eucalpt tree sent strong wafts of scents whenever I got out of my car. Mauve or blue plants were the most dominant colour. I remember taking pictures and wondering which one I would use on my media this Lent. I couldn’t help but wonder, even though Palm Sunday was a long way off then, that this abundance must have been what Jesus experienced as he went into Jerusalem. At that moment in my reverie I was mown down not by a young donkey, but 2 rumbustious labradoodles.


The March winds started early, and soon the wisteria was blown away. I caught myself thinking, it was just like Jesus’s friends in the garden. The grass grew orange, as the top end of Australia received the rain, and the wind just bought drying wind this year. Everything seemed to be withering. Did the disciples feel like that after the crucifixion, had everything withered?

Some of the Lemon Eucalyptus leaves turned flame red. The thin spindles of leaves looking like fire flames licking out, and I thought of Pentecost to come. How lucky am I to know there was a conclusion of hope.


On Easter Sunday i became aware of the autumonal change starting to happen to some of the leaves on the imported trees. It seemed appropriate that change was making itself evident on this of all days.

Lent was talking to me through my scenes and in my home environment.

God was in me, around me.

Our children often see these things, they get excited by the feel, the scent, the sound of God’s world every day. I love giving our little ones the opportunity to make the connection with God. Find the right words or expressions or occasions. Lent opened my ears, eyes and nose. I enjoy sharing God’s word through God’s World with the little ones In our care.


What’s happening to Sunday School

I so loved Sunday School. We would run out of church at the allocated time and head to the “big hall” which had been broken down into smaller divided “rooms” for different age groups. Maybe a song and prayer together and then the parents would meet us and grab a cuppa at the end of the church service. I was meant to be learning the stories of the Bible and the people whose lives had been lived in faith. I learnt I was part of a bigger worshipping community.

The Sunday School Movement had sustained generations for over 250 years. But in western society I experienced this pretty much in its “dying” phase. It was already an abbreviated version with a changed purpose to when the philanthropist Robert Raikes took working class children off the streets on Sunday Morning (the only day off work), and gave them the skills to worship and better themselves. Wesley’s movement was just starting out and this method fitted their theology, so they warmly embraced this idea. The original “Sunday School” began, with paid teachers and incentives for scholars when they attended worship.

The Judeo emphasis on education bolstered this movement and spear headed formalised school teaching for all children in an era where the industrial revolution was emphasising social injustices.

Unfortunately, Western cultures have seen a decline in students, aging of volunteer teachers and changes in the pedagogies of the formal education systems. Whereas, so I’ve been told, this is not the case in some parts of Asia. And some of our newer migrants still look for this structure too.

Congregations who successfully operated Sunday School now struggle with the idea of educating their young. They can be bewildered with a changing society in which their values and lifestyle no longer fit Australia today. There are new ways of worship, and stronger ideas about the role of the family in faith formation. Can children learn in worship? Can worship be education?

Should they run Messy church? What is intergenerational worship and why do we have to change? Being a Church that takes seriously the education of their young is far from easy.

How are you doing it? What works well?

Let’s have the conversation and pass on some great ideas to others.

REF: Wills, Wesley R.. 200 Years and still counting: Past, Present and future of the Sunday School ( Wheaton,Victors Books,1980)

Earnshaw, Beverley, Fanned into Flames: The spread of the Sunday School (Fairfield, Bright and Sons,1980)