Read an Excerpt
I Believe It!
Set up chairs in rows---with plenty of space between them---enough for all the kids, and have them take a seat. Then explain to your group that you're going to force them to declare some of their beliefs. Tell them these beliefs could be about a whole variety of subjects: religion, politics, morality, whatever. You'll say a number and a direction, like 3 to the right, and then state a belief. If they agree with that belief, they should shout, 'I believe it!' and move as many seats as you specified. You may have played a game similar to this, but without the teaching value---this will get kids to identify values and beliefs while having fun.
Explain that the rows, sideways and forward and back, are continuous. So if Rick only has one seat on his left side and has to move three to the left, he should go to the other end of the row to move in two seats. If someone is already in the seat, he sits on the waiting lap (your kids will groan at this point). In fact there may already be two or three or more people---just stack up and hope you can move soon!
Now read this list and watch the madness ensue! You'll have to remind kids of the rules here and there. And you may have to prod a kid who isn't moving at all. When you state a belief you're sure the student holds, question her about it specifically.
* -Move 2 to the right if you believe in yourself.
* -Move 3 to the left if you believe Jesus is God's Son.
* -Move 1 to the right if you believe in the death penalty.
* -Move 5 back if you believe abortion is okay in some situations.
* -Move 4 to the left if you believe extraterrestrial life exists.
* -Move 2 forward if you believe love is an action.
* -Move 4 to the right if you believe in love at first sight.
* -Move 1 to the right if you believe the butler did it.
* -Move 2 to the left if you believe racial tension is getting worse.
* -Move 3 back if you believe Christ will return during your lifetime.
* -Move 3 to the right if you believe you will be famous someday.
* -Move 1 to the left if you believe in a hell with literal flames.
* -Move 2 to the right if you believe CDs cost too much.
* -Move 5 forward if you believe guys are smarter than girls.
* -Move 4 to the right if you believe girls are smarter than guys.
* -Move 2 to the left if you believe pizza is good food.
* -Move 1 to the left if you believe animals will go to heaven.
* -Move 3 back if you believe home schooling is a good idea.
* -Move 6 to the right if you believe the government knows all about you.
* -Move 4 forward if you believe war is necessary sometimes.
* -Move 5 to the right if you believe money will solve all your problems.
* -Move 2 to the left if you believe you look like one of your parents.
* -Move 1 to the right if you believe gym class is cruel and unusual punishment.
* -Go back to where you started if you believe you'd like to return to your original seat.
Once students are settled back in their seats, ask:
* -What are some other things you believe?
* -Name one thing you think you believe but you're not completely sure about.
* -How about one thing that you believe so strongly, nothing could make you change your mind about it?
GETTING THE POINT
You Are What You Believe
Distribute copies of You Are What You Believe and a pencil or pen to each of your students. Ask them to write five beliefs they hold about Christianity, the Bible, or God. Some of your students may need a little help with this (some may need a lot of help with this!). Circulate among them, and offer suggestions---ideas they can rewrite as beliefs:
* -I believe Jesus is God's Son.
* -I believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.
* -I believe the Bible is God's truth and is accurate.
* -I believe God knows everything about me and loves me.
* I believe Jesus will return again.
* -I believe a relationship with God, through Jesus, is the only way to heaven.
* -I believe that I've been justified by the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, as the propitiation for our sins, and that big words impress people.
After each kid has written a set of beliefs (hopefully, since they've only written five, these will be five of their strongest beliefs), have several share one or two with the whole group. Then ask them to add a needle to the strength-of-conviction meters next to each belief to show how strongly they hold their beliefs.
Finally, have your students pick an answer from the list (or they can write in their own) that reflects their feelings about this question: At what point would I give up this belief? The idea is to test the strength of their convictions. In other words, are they willing to die or to be teased or to lose a finger for the belief?
After they've completed this last step, ask your students to reflect on the strength of their convictions about their personal beliefs. Generally, are they committed to their beliefs? Or are they pretty wishy-washy about them? Have a few share out loud.