Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Faith In Action: Youth Speak

Part of Families

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A list of the committees/groups within the congregation, including their meeting dates, times, and places
  • Newsprint and markers
  • Art materials, video cameras, or digital cameras (optional)

Preparation for Activity

If you are able to offer participants a choice of how to present their point of view, make sure you have a choice of materials such as whatever is needed to create a PowerPoint presentation, video, or a booklet.

Description of Activity

The youth have a valuable perspective to offer the congregation's leaders. What is the congregation like from the youths' perspective? What is their experience from the time they walk in each Sunday until they leave? What is their experience from the time they were infants until they are graduated seniors? Which programs are welcoming and life affirming and which could use some work?

Present participants with a list of the committees and/or groups within your congregation. Review the list and ask the following questions about each item: What positive experiences have you had with this group? What experiences have you had that were not as successful?

Ask the group to pick one committee with which they would like to create a youth-oriented experience. If it has several ideas, record them on newsprint and reach a consensus. The experience could involve just youth or it could be multigenerational and include adults and/or younger children. Envision what this experience would be like, and devise a means to present your idea to the committee. Here are a few examples.

  • Create a humorous play about the joy of cleaning and present it to the Grounds or Building Maintenance Committee.
  • Create a map of your meetinghouse or building, with small sketches or symbols denoting opportunities for fun and fellowship (such as potlucks, Easter Egg Hunts, and the like) that the youth would like to help host. Give this to the Social Committee.
  • Ask youth to write a paragraph about the most meaningful social justice activity they have experienced and create a booklet to give to the Social Justice Committee.
  • Design a PowerPoint presentation or video that communicates the youth perspective on what Unitarian Universalism means and present it to the Membership Committee.

This activity should not be viewed as an opportunity to gripe about lack of programming geared toward youth, but as an opportunity for youth to offer their ideas and services to the wider congregational community.

Including All Participants

Your group may have new members who have not had the chance to experience much programming in your congregation. Feel free to keep the conversation more broadly focused on congregational life in general and not just on your congregation. Youth with experience in different congregations and other denominations might offer refreshing new programming suggestions.