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Activity 3: Christian Diversity
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Several phone books, business pages or Yellow Pages (C)
- Any other listing that shows a variety of churches in your area
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
Preparation for Activity
- If your local newspapers include a religion section or listings/ads from churches, pull these pages out and bring to the workshop.
- This activity involves seeing the diversity of Christian churches in your area. If you have trouble finding material for the youth to use to this effect, consider other options, such as printing out material researched online or contacting your Chamber of Commerce or Visitor's Bureau for more information.
- Copy the workshop quote on newsprint and post.
Description of Activity
Participants discover the range of Christian churches that service unique ethnic and racial populations.
Remind youth that in the story of Pentecost, disciples of Jesus started speaking languages they never knew and, in this way, were able to spread the news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection to people from lands far and wide.
Read the workshop quote. Make sure the group knows that Channing was an influential Unitarian minister who lived from 1780-1842. If the Welcoming and Entering activity was done, ask how the range of Bible translations has to do with Channing's quote?
Distribute the material you gathered that demonstrates the ranges of church services in your community. In particular, look for churches that hold services in different languages (Korean, Chinese, Spanish are just a few you might see represented.) or to congregations comprised mostly of people from one ethnic group (Catholic churches in black neighborhoods, African Methodist Episcopal churches or Greek Orthodox churches are examples.)
- Have you ever attended a Christian church with services in another language than English? Have you ever attended a Christian church with a congregation comprised mostly of one ethnic group or a minority population? If you will be engaging with such a church during this program, share that information.
- Are you aware of any friends of yours who attend such a church?
- Christianity has a wide appeal. Part of the widespread nature of the religion can also be contributed to evangelical denominations and sects, which lead missions and build churches in parts of the world that had never heard of Christianity. It must also be acknowledged that colonialism spread Christianity: when the nations of Western Europe-such as Spain, France, Portugal, Holland, and Great Britain-took over countries and regions in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, Australia, and the Caribbean and other islands, they brought their religion with them. Many peoples were forced to give up their indigenous religion and worship the god of their conquerors, who were often also their enslavers.
- What is the fastest growing religion today? [Islam] According to information from the United Nations, Islam outpaced Catholicism as the most populous religion. Do you think this fact contributes to tensions amongst the Christians and Muslims? Though Islam does seek converts (unlike Judaism, which does not actively seek converts), the high growth rate is most attributable to high birth rates, longer life expectancies, and the large number of young Muslims of childbearing age. The Muslim population in the U.S. is predicted to double over the next 20 years. (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2011) Many Christian denominations in the United States are decreasing in number. This is due partly to an increase in the number of Americans who identify as "spiritual, but not religious" and who do not feel allegiance to any religious denomination. Do you see this trend among your friends and/or family?