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

Alternate Activity 1: Engagement

Materials for Activity

  • Optional: Bibles

Preparation for Activity

  • Choose an Evangelical Christian congregation to visit. You might want to visit a traditional Black church, such as an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) congregation, or a nondenominational Christian "megachurch" if you are near one.
  • Contact a staff member or a member of the church and inquire about visiting. If possible, also arrange for your contact, or another member of the church, to talk to the youth before, or after, the service. Find out what the youth should know before their visit, such as how to dress, whether they should bring their own Bibles for the service, and the approximate length of the service. Ask whether there will be refreshments or a potluck meal after the service and whether youth are welcome to stay. Be prepared for the service to run longer than predicted; before worship, let your hosts know what time your group needs to leave. Be prepared to offer a financial donation.
  • Gather information about the church's programs other than worship, such as religious education, service projects, or charity efforts. Be ready to look for brochures, newsletters, or other items when visiting the church.

Description of Activity

Participants attend an Evangelical Christian worship service and process the experience.

Gather beforehand to be sure youth are properly dressed and to review courteous behavior guidelines. Remind the youth that the church members are generously sharing their faith with us and that you expect the youth to demonstrate respect for the worshippers, their beliefs, and their practices. If appropriate, distribute Bibles; explain that the youth may wish to use a Bible during the service when other worshippers do.

Engagement Questions

After the service, ask participants for their immediate responses. What was the experience like for them? How did it compare with engagements with other faiths? Continue discussion with these questions:

  • What did youth notice about the appearance of the church? Was there an altar? Stained glass windows? What objects, art, or symbols did you notice?
  • Was there music? What instruments, if any, were used? Was the music recorded? Was there singing?
  • What kind of special clothing did anyone wear? Why?
  • Did people of different genders behave differently? Different ages?
  • Was there a mix of ethnicities in the congregation? Among the worship leaders?
  • What differences did you observe between worship here and in our congregation?
  • Was the speaker what you expected? How so? How not? Did the speaker say anything that surprised them? What? Why was it surprising?
  • Were there readings from the Bible? If so, did youth try to follow along? Were they able to find the Bible verses? Was audio-visual equipment used, such as a projector for showing Bible verses on a screen? What was that like?
  • Was there a sermon? If so, could youth imagine hearing the same sermon at a UU congregation? Why or why not?

Share the information you have gathered about the church's programs other than worship. What can the youth learn about this faith community from its additional offerings?

Thank the youth for their participation.