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In "Amazing Grace," a Tapestry of Faith program
This activity uses a concrete action to illustrate the abstract idea of arbitrating between good and bad thoughts.
Engage the group in a modified tug of war, first taking youth to an area that is safe for such an activity. Divide the group into two teams of approximately equal size, weight, and strength. Identify one group as virtue and the other as sin, and announce that they are going to have a modified tug of war. You want them to arrange themselves at both ends of the rope so that when everybody leans back, there should be perfect balance, and neither team should move. You may have to swap people around or ask somebody to leave one of the groups and stand aside to achieve balance. At your signal, ask everybody to pull with approximately half strength so that the balance is maintained. Then ask this question: "If virtue and sin are perfectly balanced, how much additional virtue will it take so that virtue can win?" Now add another person to the virtue side. It could be a participant who had to stand aside to help balance the group or a leader. Now tell the groups to pull again at half strength. Virtue should win, though you may need to ask the sin side not to follow their natural instinct of increasing their effort to resist the new addition on the virtue side. (If this does not work, add another leader to the virtue side and try again.) Now ask the group to drop the rope and come together. Ask what it has proved about virtue and sin. Help the group to this answer: "In a group, one or two people can easily make enough difference so the group does the right thing." If you are feeling brave and trust your group not to get out of control, you can ask the group to repeat the experiment with everybody pulling at full strength. If a youth notes that a slight addition to the sin side can shift the balance as easily as the slight addition to the virtue side, accept the reasoning, and add that you hope the youth will generally look for an extra pull on the virtue side of their decisions.
If you have participants with limited mobility, make sure you find a way that they can participate. Maybe they can hold the rope and pull while seated. If you cannot accommodate all participants comfortably in this activity, you should skip it.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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