Activity 4: Evangelical Preaching - How Does It Feel?
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Handout 1, Amazing Grace Church - What We Believe; Handout 2, RiverTree Baptist Church - What We Believe; or Handout 3, The ATF Creed - Acquire the Fire
- Optional: Evangelical Christian music and a music player
Preparation for Activity
- Each handout offers an Evangelical belief statement for you or participants to present as if you were preaching it. Decide whether you wish to (a) present a handout yourself or (b) engage one or several volunteers to present one or more of the handouts. Give handouts to any volunteer presenters ahead of time. Invite them to prepare to share the material in a way that will convince and inspire listeners.
- Copy the handout(s) you are using for all participants.
- Arrange the room to resemble a congregation surrounding a pulpit.
- Prepare two sheets of newsprint, one headed "Ideas" and one headed "Emotions." Set these aside.
- Optional: Prepare a few minutes of Evangelical Christian music to play for the group. Download Christian praise music free, on the website Free Praise and Worship. Include African American gospel selections or Christian rock praise music, as well.
- Optional: Set up and test music player.
Description of Activity
Participants hear and respond to a message one might hear at an Evangelical worship service.
Gather the group in the "congregational" setting you have arranged. If you have music, play some. Then bring the music down. Introduce yourself and say you are happy to have the chance to preach to this group today (or have a volunteer presenter do this). Then present, or have a volunteer present, one of the handouts. If you wish, at the conclusion of the presentation bring up the music for a few moments.
Note: While this activity invites an intentionally dramatic presentation, be careful to respect the words and ideas in the handout. Avoid extra dramatization or embellishment such as a made-up preacher name or a costume. Some youth may respond actively during the reading, for example, shouting "Amen!" If this happens, great-process it later. Invite the youth to share how the reading inspired them. Was it the words, or the way they were delivered? Something about the experience of being preached to in a group?
Now distribute the handout that was presented. Tell the group it provides the speech they just heard. Say:
Let's think about the presentation we just experienced. What was the message?
Post the two newsprint sheets you have prepared. As youth respond, write their contributions on the appropriate sheet: "Ideas"or "Emotions." Invite the group to tell you on which sheet each response belongs. Make brief notes-the point is not to build long lists but to show the distinction. Encourage the group to look over the handout for phrases that speak to "Ideas" and phrases that speak to "Emotions." Some may be both.
When the lists look full, lead a discussion with these questions:
- What is your reaction to these ideas? How do you think Evangelical followers find them appealing?
- What is your reaction to the feelings? What positive feelings might a follower experience while listening to this speech?
Now guide the group to reflect:
- When it comes to religion, are ideas and feelings both important? Is one more important than the other? Why?
- What does our Unitarian Universalist faith have to say about this?
Unitarian Universalism offers different ideas and tends to inspire different feelings than Evangelical Christianity.
Ask for examples. [We do not believe in one idea of God or one theology; we are open to learn from science, the arts, history, other religions, etc.; we expect our ideas to change over time with new knowledge and experience.]
Nonetheless, for us too, both ideas and feelings are extremely important. Our fourth Principle is that we value a free and responsible search for meaning-we consider it religious to thoughtfully examine ideas and to diligently develop our own. Feelings are also important; we trust our feelings to show us what is true and how we should live. Our first Source is "Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life."