Play isn’t simply an activity — it’s a way of seeing the world, said the Rev. Jaco Hamman, professor of religion, psychology and culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School and the keynote speaker for this year’s Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) annual event — the theme of which is “Let us play.”

APCE is a professional organization for educators in the Reformed tradition in the United States and Canada. This year’s annual event ran Feb. 6-9.

“To be playful in life is an act of being and it’s not an act of doing,” Hamman said.

We can’t participate in activities all the time, but we can be playful anytime, anywhere and with anyone.

Hamman outlined six practices we can engage in to be more playful and reach out to others:


  • Realness challenges us to hold opposites in close relationship and resist dichotomous thinking — a challenge in our polarizing society


  • To nurture and foster your imagination, you must spend time with people more imaginative than yourself. Invite the most imaginative person you know to help you write a sermon or formulate a lesson plan.
  • There are three kinds of imagination:
    • Self imagination: what we dream
    • Realistic imagination: how we think about sex, power and money
    • Illusionistic imagination: when we see God’s kingdom on earth


  • This practice allows us to view life as abundant, flowing, endless and infinite.
  • We must recognize that boundaries are meant to keep us safe — not boxed up.


  • Slowness is the ability to savor life’s smells, tastes and sights and to resist its busyness.
  • We speak about time like a malnourished person speaks about food — we must make time, kill time, and find enough time. But play can stop time.


  • Hospitality creates a space in one’s home or life where others can grow.


  • We must put ourselves in places where we discover awe and wonder. Time in nature — away from technology — can lead to transcendence.