Explaining the Trinity – how God can be both one and three – is difficult at the best of times never mind explaining it to children in our groups and churches. It’s good to teach children what Christians believe about God but equally it’s important to maintain the mystery of God.
One early Christian theologian said that trying to explain the Trinity was like trying to empty the ocean with a cup. Perhaps it’s also a reminder that our words can’t adequately describe God but merely touch upon what she is like.
Below is a list of activities and challenges that can be used to help children explore how something can be both one and many.
Divide the group into three teams. Provide each team with the same set of three items of clothing – soft hat, a jacket and a wrap. At a given signal one member of the team each time must put on these three items of clothing as quickly as possible. However, with each new turn, each person in the team must wear the items in a different way. How many ways can each team think up of wearing the three items as one set of clothes?
Play a game of ” taboo ” where one person has to try and give clues to a particular word without mentioning that word, while the others guess the word. This game works best if you use words that have multiple meanings. For example:
Bank = a place to store money; the edge of the river; the turning of a plane in the sky
Rock = a sweet you can eat; a stone you can touch; a movement you can make
Roll/Role = a type of bread; the movement of a die; a part in a play
Road/Rode/Rowed= something to travel on; what you did on a horse; what you did in a boat
Vain/Vein/Vane = full of oneself; something that carries blood; part of a windmill
Praise/Preys/Prays =saying something is great; what a lion does; how we talk to God
Rains/Reins/Reigns =water from the sky; straps on a horse; what a king or queen does
Same Object Different Use
Pass around a selection of everyday objects around your group. Individually or working in teams encourage them to come up with three different ways the same object could be used. Encourage them to use their imagination and think outside the box.
Using only the number three 3 and the number one 1 create a drawing which contains as many objects or people as possible. (For example, two threes together and a one could become a tree. Or a three on its side might be a bird in the sky etc). It could work best as a team challenge with each team having a large sheet of paper to fill. Winning team would be the one with the most objects drawn.
Dancing the Trinity
‘Perichoresis’ is a theological term meaning ‘the dance of God’, all three persons of the trinity inter-relating in a totally harmonious fluid way.
C.S. Lewis described the Trinity as a “dance” saying, “God is not a static thing…but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost…a kind of dance” (Mere Christianity, p 136).
In teams of three, work out some synchronised movements that the group will do together (moving as one) to go from one side of a room to the other. They must move as a single unit and try to include as many different types of movements as possible.
In teams of three challenge the group to create self-supporting statues with the following definitions: Firstly the statue should be all joined-up but there should only be three feet on the ground. Then they have to make a statue should be all joined-up but there should only be three hands on the ground. Lastly they should create a statue should be all joined-up but there should only be one foot, one hand and one bottom touching the ground (and no other support)
Play a game of linking up three words with a 4th word that connects them all. Write these words out on pieces of card first and hide them around the room. In teams they should try and collect as many complete sets as possible. Here are the sets:
- Composer – Musician – Instrument = Music
- Sap – Branch – Leaves = Tree
- Electricity – Filament – Bulb = Light
- Tyre – Hub – Spokes = Bike Wheel
- Water – Ice – Steam = H²O
- Body – Mind – Spirit = Human Being
- Caterpillar – Egg – Cocoon = Butterfly
- Envelope – Stamp – Writing paper = Letter
- Page – Cover – Binding = Book
- Hand – Pen – Ink = Writing
- Faith – Hope – Love = Virtues
In teams of three, play a game of group charades, in which three people have to mime the following phrases/words, which are all linked to three in some way. Can the others guess what they are miming?
Blind mice; French hens; Musketeers; a hat-trick; wishes; guesses; little pigs; Goldilocks’ bears
A classic 3 in one activity. Use a variety of materials to plait e.g. pipe cleaners, rope, silky scarves, strips of material. Different colours also useful e.g. green, red and gold. Introduce the idea of Christians thinking about God in three ways but how the ideas are interrelated. How could different colours show these different persons?
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