Faith Like A Child: Week 2 Discussion Guide

 Discussion Guide for Faith Like A Child - Part 2: PLAY

Contributing Curriculum Team Writers: Rebekah Backowski & Sherrill Wall

This is the second week of our sermon series entitled, “Faith Like A Child.” In today’s CG discussion we will present how PLAY et al is vital in ways we may not have imagined!
Science has studied the value of mammal play in….yep, you guessed it…rats.  In his journal article, “Play and Adversity: How the Playful Mammalian’s Brain Withstands Threats and Anxieties,” Stephen Sivit concludes that the ability to play after experiencing stress or adversity directly impacts the time in which feelings of fun and/or anxiety linger.

In a 2023 fast-paced world of busy lifestyles, constant ads, social media solicitation, and a 24-hour news cycle which can leave us feeling discouraged, hopeless, or exhausted, maybe we need to PLAY now more than ever?!

Opening Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us here to this space and place today.  Some of us feel beaten down by the pressures of this world.  We ask you to teach us more about the childlike faith you desire for us - what it could look like in adult lives and how we can manifest it.  In your son Jesus’ name we  pray.  Amen.

Ice Breaker

gerund or present participle: doodling
scribble absentmindedly.
"he was only doodling in the margin"

Doodling is the act of creating drawings in an unconscious or unfocused manner.  Researchers have found that doodling can have the same uplifting effect on your brain as laughing or eating chocolate. Think relaxation, memory recall, creativity, meditation, and even problem solving! Do you doodle?

Did you doodle as a child?  If so, when and what did you doodle?  

If time and resources allow, take a few minutes to recreate your favorite ‘scribbles.’ Draw a person, animal, object, or design that quickly comes to mind.  Don’t use an eraser.  The idea is to go freely, turning defects into effects, to remain imperfect, to create with fun & creativity.  

Play ‘Show and Tell’ as you wish!

Circle Back
Last week we discussed how nature creates a greater sense of wonder within us.  We prayed for God to open our eyes to see the beauty of His creation which demonstrates his amazing love for us.  
  • Were you able to spend some recreational time outdoors this week? 
  • How about checking out and/or making plans to visit some of the suggested local parks or conservation areas?  

The Head / Scripture
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (MSG) - Make the Most of What God Gives
18 After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. 19 Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! 20 God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.

The Heart / Personal Growth
As Solomon (supposed author of Eccesiates)  acknowledges life on this earth as unstable, painful, mundane, and often out of our control,  he specifically encourages us to “lighten up” and enjoy ourselves.
  • In what areas of life do you struggle the most? (i.e. work, caregiving, parenting, home chores, finances, difficult relationships, physical limitations/pain, meeting others’ expectations, etc.)  
  • What are some productive or positive tactics you use to get through these hardships and challenges? (i.e. asking for help, recreationship distraction such as games/sports/tv, meditation, sharing with others, helping others.)

Verse 19 informs us that not only what we enjoy, but the ability to enjoy it, is a gift from God.  
  • How do you strive to practice cheerfulness and gratitude with ‘your lot,’ or what God has given you?
  • Try to recall an instance or season of life when you either did or did not follow the advice of Ecclesiates by “making the best of it.” How did this decision serve you and those around you? How did it affect your physical/emotional/mental health?

The Hands / Real-world application
Okay, back to the concept of  PLAY, ya’ll!

During the Great Depression, radio programs, music, dancing, and cinema were popular forms of adult entertainment. Many people suffering from the effects of the economic downturn looked for inexpensive ways to pass the time and distract themselves from the challenging circumstances.  
  • List some activities you do  either on your own or with friends as entertainment or as a way to relieve the stress of personal responsibilities?  
  • Would you say your “PLAY” contributes  to improved healthy living?  Think of the proven benefits of play, such as strengthening critical thinking, producing creativity, sharpening memory, encouraging cooperation, establishing conflict resolution skills, reducing stress, improving relationships, enhancing attractiveness, and building resilience.  
  • What other ways can you think of and/or why do you think forms of play are powerful?
  • When was the last time you felt like you played?
  • What ‘play’ activities would you like to spend MORE time doing?
  • This week try to take note of “play” in your life.  Be prepared to share the ways in which you strived to play harder this week. 

Closing Prayer
Dear Lord, you know we sometimes struggle with the whole concept of play in our lives.  We know how to be productive.  We know how to stay busy.  We are not so comfortable with how to simply enjoy all that we have.  Help us to remember that you give us to us freely so that we might enjoy our lives. 

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