This exercise is good for Sunday morning church school, a retreat, or even a vestry meeting.
THE GROUND RULES…
- Pair up with someone you know LEAST well in the room.
- For ten minutes, talk to this person about your faith and your church.
- The listener does nothing but listen. (This is not a conversation!)
- At the leader’s signal, switch roles for another ten minutes. Some topics to get you started (pick and choose, as needed, but talk about whatever you want—there is no protocol here!):
- What is your basic life story when it comes to your faith?
- Why do you believe you ultimately ended up in the Episcopal Church?
- What is your own parish like? What are the three things you like best about it?
- What things do you know for sure about your faith? What are you still struggling with?
- What is your prayer life like right now?
- How do you prepare yourself for the Holy Eucharist?
- Are you engaging in a Lenten discipline? If so, what?
- Who has most influenced your faith journey?
- What piece of scripture do you often turn to when you are going through a difficult time?
- What book, other than the Bible and Book of Common Prayer, has most influenced you spiritually?
- Name a time when you felt closest to God and a time when you felt most distant.
- How are you, personally, living out the Great Commission as part of your walk in faith?
IDEA: You can switch off more than once with storytelling partners, allowing people to get to know even more of their fellow parishioners in-depth. And, you can extend the time to as much as 20 or 30 minutes a person.
TALKING ABOUT YOUR FAITH—A GAME
These exercises are great for adult church school time or a mid-week gathering. Copy and cut these scenarios apart and place them in a basket. Invite two volunteers to come forward, pull out a piece of paper, and role play the scenario. After the role play on each situation, invite the group to suggest other approaches and talk about what was especially helpful.
- You come home from church one Sunday and your neighbor is out raking leaves. You exchange greetings and mention you’ve just been to church. He says, “Yeah? I just usually use my Sunday mornings to catch up on my sleep or my yard work!”
- You’re chatting with a friend at a dinner party and you mention something that happened at your church. Your friend says, “Omigosh—isn’t that an Episcopal Church? You all are the ones that are always representing a liberal viewpoint on CNN, aren’t you?”
- A friend at work tells you at break one day about their upcoming medical procedure that seems pretty serious. You wish them well and ask if you can put them on the prayer list at church. They say, “Why bother? If God cared about me, I wouldn’t have gotten this cancer in the first place!”
- You’re over at a friend’s house and he’s under the hood of your car, looking for a problem to repair. During the conversation, he says, “You know, I just don’t understand all of this church and religion stuff. There’s no proof! Nobody can tell me for sure that God exists—science has never proved that and never will!”
- You’re having lunch in the break room at work and talking about politics. One guy says, “Well, what’s really wrong with politics is all of these Christians! You know, if you really think about it, most of the wars and problems in the world are caused by religion.”
- You and a friend are talking about her upcoming wedding and the type of ceremony she plans to have. She mentions she isn’t planning a church wedding. “Church is just a waste of time. There’s no point in even talking about it because the Bible was written by a bunch of old white guys and is just a fable used to oppress people.”
- You and your brother are at a family gathering on Easter. He says, “With so much other stuff to do, why do you spend all of that time over at that church? It takes all the time I’ve got just to work and keep food on the table!”
- You’re talking to your significant other about how you wish he/she would come to church with you. You hear, “I did that when I was a kid. Church is BORING!”
- Your sister is folding laundry one day and chatting. She recounts a story about a friend who had an affair at her church with someone in the choir and how it broke up that woman’s marriage. “You know, I wouldn’t set foot in a church!” she says. “They’re filled with nothing but sinners and hypocrites!”
- You’re on a date with a person you met on match.com. The person is nice but, as you’re getting acquainted a bit more says, “That church stuff is fine for you. It just isn’t something I’d ever want to get involved in. Spending all of that time trying to get to heaven, when half the world is already in what’s like hell right here on earth.”
- You mention at a dinner party that you’re hosting a Christmas party for your parish. A cynic among you says, “Oh, geez, aren’t you just SO over that Christmas and church stuff?! The only real reason people do Christmas and church is because society expects them to!”
- You’re shopping with a friend and mention something about your church. She says, “Well, I’ve never joined a church because I don’t have any idea what I believe.”
- A neighbor is sitting on the front porch talking about religion. “Well, I’m not gonna have any church tell ME what I should think or do!” Another neighbor says: “All churches want are your money. And, I don’t have enough of that as it is!”