Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Copies of the pamphlet, "To the Point: 15 Unitarian Universalist Elevator Speeches"
Description of Activity
Participants role-play conversations with those seeking to convert them.
Ask youth what comes to mind when they think of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) or Jehovah's Witnesses. Someone will likely mention the door-to-door proselytizing these two groups conduct. Ask the following:
- Why do these faiths proselytize?
- Have you ever been approached by a Mormon or Witness? What was it like?
Help participants consider that followers of these faiths believe it is their religious duty to spread God's word as they understand it. They believe they are sharing "good news" and saving people who convert from Hell. Ask youth if they believe there is something wrong with this practice, and if so, what? Would it be wrong to share the "good news" of Unitarian Universalism door-to-door? Would you be comfortable doing so?
This exercise helps youth practice responding to proselytizers politely and effectively. Invite youth to role-play being approached by someone who wants to convert them to their faith. Designate one person as "the door knocker" (or DK) and the other as "the door answerer" (or DA). DK does not have to know all the beliefs of LDS or Witnesses. They can attempt to talk to the DA about how God loves them and has a plan for them, and how they can be saved. They can try to leave literature. Both DK and DA should be respectful to each other. DAs may want to share their "good news" about Unitarian Universalism.
After the role-play, distribute copies of the pamphlet. Explain "elevator speech": if someone, in an elevator asked you "What do Unitarian Universalists believe?", your elevator speech would provide a short answer in basically the time it may take you to reach the floor where you or the asker gets off. Say that sometimes it is not easy to talk about our faith. Encourage participants to practice talking about their faith, keeping in mind that they do not need to explain everything about Unitarian Universalism, but just what is personally important to them about their faith. The pamphlet shows how 15 UUs do this and might provide a good springboard for participants in thinking about how they would talk about Unitarian Universalism.