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Take a Seat – Make a Friend

by Sharon Ely Pearson

How many of you have experienced a “ball pit” with your children? Or at least spent a good deal of time coaxing your child out of one? These “ball pits” are open, yet enclosed spaces filled with plastic balls of a variety of colors, about the shape of a tennis ball. You can find them in the play areas of fast food restaurants, the children’s area of a theme park (we almost “lost” our 18-month-old son in one years ago at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania), or a very hipster birthday party.

Did you know that these can build community? Did you know that these can set the scene for a theological reflection? A moment of transformation? An opportunity for evangelism? Certainly some Holy Mischief!

That’s what happened at Kanuga’s Christian Formation conference this past June in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Along with all the creative ways to start each day, the lobby area of the plenary sessions had it’s own home-made ball pit. This is how it works:

The way to open up conversation is limitless. Written on larger balls within the pit could include:

  • What is the origin of your name? Why were you named that?
  • What is your favorite song?
  • Create a secret handshake between the two of you.
  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • Where do you go to unwind?

How might this be included in one of your church’s ministries or events?

Special thanks to Emily Given for the photos. And no, Ana Hernandez did not spend the entire conference in the ball pit! 

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