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Play seriously, children, diocese tells its people

29 June 2018

Diocese of Canterbury

MINISTRY teams from 23 churches in east Kent who were attending a Celebrating Ministry conference found themselves asked to play with Lego sets.

The conference, organised by the diocese of Canterbury, offered the groups an opportunity to celebrate their diverse gifts for ministry and focus on developing their team dynamics.

As part of the process, each participant was given a pencil-case-sized bag of the plastic construction bricks, and first asked to build the biggest tower they could, and then make a model of themselves, illustrating how they saw themselves, and showing what gifts they could bring to their ministry.

The scheme, Lego® Serious Play®, is described as an experiential process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. It is based on research that suggests that hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities, deepens the reflection process, and supports an effective dialogue for everyone in the organisation.

The Children and Young People’s Ministry Adviser at Canterbury diocese, Murray Wilkinson, a trained Serious Play facilitator, who led the process, said: “Lego Serious Play gives ministry team members the opportunity to express their individual ideas about faithfully serving God without being constrained by ‘knowing the right words’.

“The methodology teaches people, instead, to “think with their hands”, giving meaning to the Lego bricks through the power of metaphor and story-making. The interplay between individual and shared models allows teams to see the strengths and gaps of the ministry they provide together.

“It offers a unique opportunity to help participants to describe their gifts using three-dimensional metaphors. By tapping into their unconscious creativity, they were able to share deep aspects of their ministry that will hopefully help them to continue serving together with new confidence.”

The diocese’s director of communications, Anna Drew, said: “At first, some people were a bit anxious about it; but they got into it quite quickly, and you could just see that they were enjoying themselves. The feedback on Facebook was very positive.”

One participant, Mary Streater, from the benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury, wrote: “I didn’t expect this conference to involve making models from Lego, but it was great fun, and we found out a lot about our Rector, Jo, and other members of the team.”

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, who hosted the event on Saturday at the John Wallis Academy, in Ashford, said that it had been “a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the joys of our shared ministry, and also to share honestly with one another the challenges we face. I hope that the teams will go away energised and inspired to serve God afresh in their communities.”

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