Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 2: Jesus, the Storyteller

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 3, Parables
  • Optional: Box of costumes

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut apart the parables.
  • If your congregation has a box of miscellaneous costumes, make it available.
  • It is best if groups have private space to rehearse. Investigate spaces that are open to them beforehand.

Description of Activity

Participants analyze and enact parables.

Matthew 13:34 says, "Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing." Ask who can define the word "parable." [A short, story that uses symbols to convey abstract ideas and teach a moral.] Why do youth think Jesus spoke in parables?

If the following reasons are not given, share with the group that storytelling has been an important teaching tool throughout human history. We understand and remember information we receive as narratives. Ask if participants had favorite stories that they wanted to hear or read over and over when they were children. Point out that people of all ages love stories: soap operas, movies, music videos, books... even blogs.

Jesus told stories to help people understand big concepts. If he was a good storyteller, people were more likely to listen, too. His stories were about people they could identify with: kings, farmers, beggars. They were about activities the populace engaged in: weeding, weddings, wars.

The first part of the 27 books of the New Testament-the Christian Scriptures-is the Gospels. The four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Historians say none of these authors actually knew Jesus: all the books were written many years after Jesus' death. So the stories they tell have been handed down orally by others until these authors wrote them down.

Tell participants that on the slips of paper are some of the dozens of parables of Jesus. Explain that they will divide into groups of three or four, read the parable, decide what the moral is, and create a short skit to illustrate the parable. The skit can be very literal with the same time, place, and characters as the parable, or it can be re-cast in another time or place using different characters, as long as the moral teaching is the same.

Form small groups, distribute parables, tell groups which spaces they can use to rehearse and that they have 10 minutes to work. If costume pieces are available, let them know. Give a two-minutes warning before reconvening the whole group.

Let each group perform. After each performance, someone in the small group should read the parable and say what they decided the moral means.

Discuss the tone of the parables. What feelings did they invoke? Were they all the same? Were any scary? Moving? As a group, discuss the morals. Ask if the youth know other parables, like the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

Point out that you do not have to be a Christian to find value in these stories, and the wisdom stories from other religions and cultures.