Activity 2: Faith as a Process

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Handouts 1 and 2 and Leader Resource 1.
  • Copies of Handouts 1 and 2 for all participants.
  • Start by laying out the "pathways" roughly as they are presented in the image in Leader Resource 1. Use the eight pieces of paper to mark developmental stage points. On one side write the number and on the other write the name of the developmental stage. Use masking tape to create paths between the numbers. Leave enough room for two or three people to stand at each number.
  • Divide the numbered case statements from Leader Resource 1 so you can hand them out to participants. If you have fewer than ten participants, you can read one or more of the case statements.

Description of Activity

Explain that this activity looks at two faith development models. One was created by the developmental psychologist James Fowler. The other is a model developed by Unitarian Universalist minister and religious educator Reverend Dan Harper. Then read the following script:

Any model that makes generalizations like these faith development models have strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are that they can help us better understand common experiences. They help us describe where we have been, where we are now, and where we might go. Their weakness comes from the fact that they do make generalizations. They are models and not perfect descriptors of individual experience. So as you learn about these models you should think about how each stage resonates or doesn't resonate with your personal experience. It is possible to be in multiple places on any one of these models at one time. Each one of us has our own path, which is likely to have similarities to others, but in the end, it is our own.

Start with Fowler's model. Distribute Handout 1, Stages of Faith Development, and read through the handout. If you have a personal story about yourself, your children, friends, or friends' children going through one of these stages, you might reference it as you describe that stage. If you do not have a personal story, do not worry. Reading through the handout will be enough to give participants a basic understanding.

Next, introduce the activity that uses Reverend Dan Harper's model, which is more specific to Unitarian Universalism. Hand out the ten case statements to ten different participants. If you do not have ten participants, workshop leaders can participate. (Note: There are eight pieces of paper for eight stages, but there are ten case statements because stage six has three case statements.)

Ask the participant with the first case statement to stand near the corresponding number on the floor and read the case statement. Have the following nine participants follow suit. Once everyone has read their case statements, have them flip over the piece of paper on the floor to show Harper called the stage that their case statement represents. Stage 6 has three options, so have them read the name of each option.

Now, starting with the person who read the "Young Children" case statement, ask the following reflection questions:

  • Which of Fowler's developmental stages do you think most closely matches your case statement?
  • The piece(s) of tape on the floor connecting your stage to other stage(s) shows what might be the next logical developmental step. Do you think that is the next logical step? Are there other options? (If they do not do so, point to an option that you think is possible.)
  • Does any part of the case statement match any part of your personal experience?

After the person who read the case statement answers these questions, take a minute to allow other participants respond as well. Repeat this process through all ten case statements.

Distribute Handout 2, Faith Development Tasks. Explain that Reverend Harper believes that we all go through at least some of these faith development tasks as we grow and deepen our faith.

Read each of the tasks on the handout. After each task, ask participants to raise their hands if they think the person in their case statement is going through that particular task. Make sure to point out the less obvious people that might be doing a particular task. For example, it is pretty obvious that Anne (at the Young Children Stage) is doing the first task. However, Mary (the New Youth) and all the people who are New Adults are doing that task as well.

Conclude by asking the group to reflect in silence for a minute about the stages that apply to their own faith journeys. Participants might want to make notes in their journals.

Including All Participants

Someone with mobility issues should be welcomed to read one of the case statements. They might need to have a chair placed at their location instead of standing.

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