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Plays that catch at your soul

by
30 November 2012

Ronni Lamont on the power of theatre to inspire in church

The flight into Egypt: another sticker illustration by Jo Parry, from the activity book Jesus Poster Sticker Book, written by Juliet David.

The flight into Egypt: another sticker illustration by Jo Parry, from the activity book Jesus Poster Sticker Book, written by Juliet David.

Drama out of a Crisis: 20 challenging, fun and inspirational sketches about poverty and justice
Peter Shaw
Barnabas for Children £7.99
(978-0-85746-005-9)
Church Times Bookshop £7,20 (Use code CT242 )

Participate! Helping young people explore discipleship and vocation
Meg Prowting, Penny Fuller and Mike Seaton
Barnabas for Children £11.99
(978-1-84101-854-6)
Church Times Bookshop £10.80 (Use code CT242 )

My Participate! Journal: Exploring what it means to be a Christian disciple
Meg Prowting, Penny Fuller and Mike Seaton
Barnabas for Children £3.99
(978-1-84101-899-7)
Church Times Bookshop £3.60 (Use code CT242 )

THE subtitle of Drama out of a Crisis  tells you  exactly what it contains. The author, Peter Shaw, works for Tear Fund (which receives all the royalties), and has an MA in playwriting, which you can tell from the quality of the writing. Some of the sketches are laugh-out-loud funny, as they catch at your heart and soul.

An excellent book; but it is a pity that you can't download the scripts from a password-protected website in­cluded in the cost of the book or CD. Ignore the ages of the per­formers given on the cover: this is not a book just for children or young people: it is for the whole Church, and highly recom­mended.

Participate! was greeted eagerly by  Liz, who teaches seven-to-11-year-olds at the local church. She and her daughter Elly road-tested the course for me, and reported on this discipleship course for nine-to-14-year-olds.

Liz was very disappointed. Like me, she appreciated the introduc­tion, which asks leaders to reflect on their role and motivation; but "discipleship" is never defined. The content of the course is probably best summed up by Elly, an articulate ten-year-old. "It made me think about my relationship to church, and to my group, but it didn't make me think about my relationship with God." She loved the accompanying journal for participants, but would have pre­ferred a password-protected online blog-type activity (which her primary school has on its site).

Overall, Participate! feels a bit dated. Leaders are not encouraged to ask the participants how they are spiritually - what God is saying to them - nor to lead the group in corporate worship or prayer. Most of all, it feels adult-driven rather than participant-led.

The suggested age range is too wide: nine to 11 would be better than nine to 14; and that renders suggested references to Facebook and TV soaps unhelpful. The great suggestion is a church placement, and Elly wanted to start with that.

Encouraging churches to take children and young people seriously is to be applauded; and this is where Participate! really scores a hit.

The Revd Ronni Lamont is a freelance writer and trainer.

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