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Faith In Action: Group Strength Applied (30 minutes), Session 3: Being Good, Being Bad

In "Amazing Grace," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Any material your group needs for continuing Faith in Action projects
  • Twenty-five small sticks, wooden craft sticks, or pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Collect and bring in any information that may be helpful to the group as it moves forward with the ideas it produced in earlier sessions.
  • Experiment with the sticks or other objects to be sure the demonstration described below will work.
  • Ask your director of religious education about projects your group might do to improve your congregation's religious education spaces. Suggestions include organizing the craft closet, cleaning the playground, and organizing books in the congregational library.

Description of Activity

If your group decided during Session 1 on a long-term Faith in Action project, then carry through with it now in any appropriate way. If not, use this time to help participants see how much the combined energies of a group can contribute to Faith in Action efforts.

Ask participants why faith groups are important in efforts to make the world a better place. After all, groups are just collections of individuals. Can't individuals act independently and get the same results?

After a brief discussion, ask the youth to imagine that they are trying to organize a Faith in Action project that will work for social justice. How could a few voices convince others that it is important to act together as a group?

Accept a few ideas and then say that you will now demonstrate a couple of possibilities.

For the first demonstration, hold up a bunch of pencil-sized sticks if you have them. Ask for a volunteer to try to break one single stick. When the youth does so, say something like this: "That was easy, wasn't it? A single stick is not very strong. However, there is strength in numbers. Let's put a whole bunch of sticks together." (Hold up the sticks.) "Now who can break them without separating them?" (Let youth try.)

Ask if the youth agree that this is a good way to show that people in groups have more strength than they do as individuals.

Introduce the second demonstration, saying it is called a "community chorus." It shows that many voices speaking out are much stronger than a single voice.

Write these words on newsprint: Save the world from sin and sorrow.

Ask for a youth to say the words in a powerful way, but without shouting. Then ask the same youth to say the words over and over again, being forceful each time, while one more youth joins in with each repetition. Point to an additional youth who is to add his/her voice, and continue to point to others, one at a time, until the whole group is chanting very strongly. If you wish, begin conducting the group, first diminishing the sound to an intense whisper, and then building it back up to a loud and fervent demand.

How does the group feel about this approach? Suggest that the youth might try either approach the next time they wish to convince other people to join a group effort.

Connect the activity to the round-robin story of Activity 1. Was the story better because many people contributed to it? Point out that stories written by individuals have some strengths and stories written by groups have other strengths. You can say the same about Faith in Action projects.

Working together as people of faith has additional advantages. One is that your values will be similar to those of the other people you will be working with. It's likely that everyone will feel the work is important because of those shared values. Another benefit is that working together creates shared memories that strengthen our faith community. Putting our "Faith in Action" affirms our feelings of belonging to our UU faith.

Now suggest that the youth use their own group strength by finding and doing a congregational project they would enjoy doing as a group. Pass on any suggestions you have received from the director of religious education and let the group decide which to accomplish. The project does not need to be huge; it could be on the level of organizing supplies or cleaning the nursery. Help the group find a time to do the project; it could be after the regular program some Sunday or perhaps during an overnight retreat in the church.

Including All Participants

Be sure to make all activities planned by your group as inclusive as possible. All youth should be able to participate.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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