To help pupils realise that they have the freedom to choose between right and wrong; to challenge them to have the courage to ‘go against the flow’.
Matthew 7:13,14 – the narrow gate.
You will need:
- A large card showing a drawing of a little fish which is swimming in the opposite direction to a huge shoal of fish.
- Items for the ‘choices’ exercise (see Content below)
- A prize.
1. Ask some pupils in the audience to choose between two things you offer them (eg two different flavour chewy bars; two different colour biros; a Mars or a Snickers Bar).
2. Comment that we are all used to this sort of choice, for example when we go shopping. This kind of choosing can be very enjoyable.
3. Continue by saying that there are, however, many things in life where we don’t have a choice (eg where we are born, the colour of our skin, the family we are part of etc). There are also things we have some influence over, but not much (which school we go to, which class we are in, which teacher we have). But that still leaves many areas of life where we are free to make our own choices.
4. Comment that it’s worth remembering that even if we don’t make a decision, we are still making a choice. We are choosing that we’ll drift along through life, being pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions by whoever and whatever has the strongest influence on us at the time.
It’s hard to be different
1. Say to the pupils that it’s hard not to do what everyone else does. Announce that you are about to demonstrate this.
2. Ask the front row of pupils to stand up. Ask them to go to one side of the room, but ask one person to stay with you on the opposite side of the room. Ask those in the group to walk – as a group – across the front of the hall. Ask the person on their own to try to walk through them. It’s difficult. Be prepared to step in to avoid injury!
3. Ask them all to sit down. Give the pupils who walked across the room on their own a prize.
4. Display the drawing of the fish on the large card.
5. Say that it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. It needs real strength. Sometimes we ‘go with the flow’ just to survive! But ‘going against the flow’ may have benefits! After all, it’s possible that the crowd is wrong! Those fish may be going in the wrong direction, perhaps even to their destruction!
6. Comment that, to a large extent, all of us get our ideas of what everyone else does and thinks from the media – TV and magazines. However, that is actually a very limited picture of what people do and think – it only represents this part of the world at this moment in time. ‘Everybody does it’, or ‘everybody says so’ is usually not a very well-founded claim! But even if it were true that ‘everybody does it’, it’s still not reasonable to think that you have to do it as well.
7. The fact that it’s difficult not to do something, doesn’t mean you don’t have a choice. For example, you are at a party where it seems as if everyone is drinking excessively and getting drunk. You have a choice:
- You can join in and get drunk;
- You can leave the party;
- You can stay at the party but not drink.
8. Comment that the first option is the easiest. You could do this without having to think at all. The other options require you to do some thinking, to make a decision, and then stick by that decision – no matter what other people might say. But don’t deceive yourself by thinking that there is no choice.
- Ask the pupils to listen to these words of Jesus: ‘The gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it’ (Matthew 7:13,14, Good News Bible).
- Comment that – when it comes to making choices about right and wrong – it isn’t easy to go in the opposite direction to most other people, especially if you feel as if you are on your own in the choice you have made.
- Conclude with a few moments of quiet. Ask the pupils to think about the choices that face them. Ask if there are any areas of their lives where they are ‘going with the flow’ when really, they want to go against it.