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Alternate Activity 1: Listening Activity - Theological Diversity

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Paper and pencils for all participants
  • A timepiece

Preparation for Activity

  • Consider your beliefs about God, what happens to us after we die, or another religious question. Prepare a short statement about a belief of your own to use as an example.

Description of Activity

Participants practice supportive listening by affirming personal belief statements each child shares with a partner or small group.

Distribute paper and pencils. Ask the children to develop a belief statement to share. Allow one or two minutes for each child to develop a statement about God or something else that they consider a religious topic. This statement may be written down or the child may choose to represent their belief in a drawing.

Now, say:

Our faith tells us that anything you believe is okay here. We all know that. Now we will practice how to show it. Everyone will have a chance to share their belief statement. The other(s) will listen in the respectful, supportive way everyone in our congregation should when discussing our beliefs.

You may wish to establish some tools for showing respectful listening. Ask the group for suggestions, and/or suggest:

  • Look at the person who is talking.
  • Ask questions in a respectful way if you do not understand something the person says or shows you.
  • Keep your agreement or disagreement with the person's beliefs to yourself. Do not challenge or criticize their beliefs.
  • Save your sharing about your own beliefs until after the person's turn to share theirs.

Form pairs or small groups and invite children to practice telling their beliefs and listening respectfully to those of others. Monitor time and groups to make sure each child has a turn to talk and to listen. If you observe disrespectful listening, gently step in and redirect.

Re-gather the group and debrief. You might ask:

  • How did it feel to be sharing your belief statement?
  • How did it feel when you were listening to someone else?
  • Did anyone feel they wanted to ask or discuss more about the belief the other person shared? What would be some ways to pursue further conversation if your beliefs were different? If they were similar?
  • How did you, as a listener, help someone feel their belief is accepted?
  • As a talker, how confident did you feel that your belief was accepted? Why do you think you felt as you did?

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