Someone in the Facebook group Biblical Christian Egalitarians asked this question:
Hi friends. In a few weeks, I’m going to be the guest leader at a youth group, and I’ve been asked to present a biblical defense for women in all forms of ministry. I can give that lecture or preach that sermon, but I am ardently against just “talking at” adolescents. With that in mind, I am looking for some varied, creative methods for this session… I’m pondering some kind of ice breaker that requires group/teamwork, but where half of them aren’t allowed to speak or contribute to their team to demonstrate how silencing half of the church is counter-productive to our mission. Any ideas are welcome, especially if you’ve done them before with your own groups!
This got me brainstorming a few ideas for active learning to introduce egalitarian topics to teens. Here are what my little brain came up with:
What happens when women have to be silent, when over half the church cannot give their knowledge to the rest? (An intro for an egalitarian lesson that include discussion of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:)
a) Hide something, with some students seeing and some not. The seeing students may not say a word nor move from their chairs to lead the others to where the hidden thing is. They should try to indirectly influence the team nonetheless.
Even better if it is in two teams, looking for the same object. You try to influence your own team’s people to find it first.
(Not giving the chance to whisper may mean a rule that the looking-for-it people should stay a meter or more from the knowers, by a line you draw in the room. But work out such logistics by the nature of your room and situation)
Then discuss how it is not good for some in the church to be silent, showing that even the “women keep silent” are in a passage that repeatedly says all should bring speaking gifts to the church, and it is good if all prophecy.
b) Another commenter to the question suggested charades, but the first person (a girl) to get a turn has to play the normal way, while the second (a boy) can just say the answer. Once again, the point is that if some cannot talk, their wisdom is hardly as likely to get passed on. It is a starting point for discussing the importance of using female gifts.
An intro for discussing the impracticality of gender roles:
Mark off different areas on a floor with curvy (not straight) lines. Play a form of soccer* or hockey* where, for the first point or two, everyone of a certain team has to stay in their “assigned role” area marked on the floor, but the other team not. That is very impractical. Then let them play another point or two the normal way.
Discuss: If God’s team limit people to certain boxes, regardless of where they actually will be able to use their talents, then we are not very effective in the fight against the darkness (the other team).
(*Since the point of such games is never about the difference between people who played a sport for years and those who never do, try to make it different from normal sport by different equipment: Hockey with pool noodles and a rolled-up ball of socks, or soccer with the inflated empty foil packet from boxed fruit juice/ boxed cheap wine is an example.)
An intro for a lesson on how the Bible could be misused.
Divide into the green team and the red team. (They don’t have to go anywhere for this one – they could just be the left and right half of your audience.) Tell each team that you will give them a clue to interpreting the sentences you will give them. They should not show their clue to the other team. To the Reds, give a piece of paper: Red team should rule the world. To the greens, pass a paper saying: Green team should rule the world. (They read this and pass it among their team, but not to the other team.)
Give the statement:
1) Reds should help Greens.
Ask them if it means:
a) Reds should do the dirty work, Greens should tell them what to do.
b) Reds should help Greens by leading them to the truth.
2) Greens, raise children with love but be strict too.
Ask them if it means:
a) Greens are the real authority figures over children – what they tell children counts more than what Reds say.
b) Greens should stay at home looking after children while Reds make decisions over other things.
3) Everyone should work along with one another. Reds, work along with Greens. Greens, be willing to give things up for Reds.
a) Reds should work along by obeying, Green should be nice while telling Reds what to do.
b) Reds should consider Greens, but they are in charge and could tell Greens what to give up.
Red team will consistently choose b), and Green team a). Discuss why: It happened because of the paper that gave them a preconceived notion of how to read the messages. There are similar messages in the Bible (Genesis 2:18,20 is similar to statement 1; Eph 6:4 is similar to statement 2); Eph 5:21-30 is similar to statement 3). In a world that believed – and still, in many ways, believe – the Green team notion (Greens/ men should rule) people have read the Bible and saw it as an excuse for male rule.
My experience is in teaching children, with some knowledge of what kind of curriculum Sunday School teachers for teens like. But teaching 13- or 15-year olds cannot be completely different from teaching 10- or 12-year olds. As such, take this from whom it comes:
Remember that teens have a short concentration span. When you have one large time block, two hours, for example, I suggest several “sessions” of certainly no longer than 40 minutes each – and that is already long. Break it up between sessions by at least inserting things like a lesson-related game in between/ A new chance to move, a new attention-getter/ intro into the topic. Plus let them participate by asking them questions and letting them look up things in the Bible, and letting them discuss in groups and report back…
Since we are on the topic of teaching teens egalitarianism, I will mention that CBE has teen curriculum, named “Called Out”. You may be interested.