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Lesson Plans

Introduction to the lesson plans: Below you will find three lesson plans written by Sheena Mayrant (’07) and Monica Wedlock (’07).  Each plan uses the convocation address and the remarks of one respondent. The three plans move from the global to the church setting to personal encounter with the unfamiliar. A class may also choose to pair the convocation address with each question and build a class around the contributions of all three respondents.

Lesson 1:  Constant Familiarity

Purpose:  This lesson is an exercise in naming privileges that at once prosper and deprive.  The lesson also examines moral courage as a transformative act of faith.


  1. To name comforts/conveniences most recognizable in our culture and society.
  2. To recognize aspects of American culture that create moral dilemma.
  3. To explore a Biblical example of moral courage, and pray for the same.


  1. Participants should have read Erskine Clarke’s Convocation Address entitled, “The Seductiveness of the Familiar.”
  2. Arrange room in a Semi-circle and cue up the video recorded response by John Knapp to Question 1 regarding the Seductiveness of the Familiar in society at large or write a transcript of his remarks for the students to read.
  3. The statements for Step #1 should be written on poster paper and posted on the walls before participants arrive.
  4. Provide blank sheets of poster paper for Step#3.  Ask for a volunteer to scribe key words/ phrases/ideas from the group.

Materials:   Bible, markers and poster paper


  1. Opening – As participants enter the room, ask them to take a pen or marker and write on the poster their answers to the following questions/statements:
    • I am most familiar with __________________________ as a form of exploitation.
    • I am surprised some people believe _________________________ is wrong.
    • __________________________ is just wrong!
    • Having the convenience of __________________ makes it difficult to fight against ________________________.

Ask participants to share some thoughts about the statements when everyone has had a chance to write responses on the posters.

  1. Explore – Erskine Clark suggests that constant familiarity with and daily living within systems gradually erode our moral vision.  John Knapp, in the video response to question 1, states that comfort makes us unfamiliar with the plight of others and gives us an increased capacity for self-deception, a capacity to believe that that our story is the preferred story and excludes the fact that there are other stories to be heard.  Consider together in the large group:  What familiar enticements in American culture and society make us fear change?  What system of injustice does your community/neighborhood struggle against?  What are the implications for the global community of this struggle?
  2. Encounter – Invite someone to read Numbers 27:1-11 aloud.  Allow time for participants to name key words/phrases/ideas they remember.  Invite the group to discuss the similarities and differences in the moral dilemma facing Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah as compared to Charles Colcock Jones and John Leighton Wilson.  How is culture and society transformed by their actions?  Do their past actions benefit us in the present day? Does our nostalgia for the past have meaning for our youth today?  What do we learn about moral courage from these five women?
  3. Response – Looking at the written responses in Step #1, ask participants to select one of the named systems of injustice and prayerfully consider how they might work to combat that particular system of injustice on a local, national and/or global level.
  4. Closing – End with a prayer for moral courage to work on that issue and for strength to resist the seductive power of the familiar.


Lesson 2:  Going Where God Is Taking Us!

Purpose: Looking at the history, demographics, and location of any congregation reveals much about what types of ministry a church engages in and who it intends to serve.  This lesson plan seeks to point out how congregations have been seduced by their past and present social realities, and encourage participants to envision new forms of ministry that challenge familiarity and complicity towards issues deeply affecting their members and those outside the doors.


  1. To identify the vision and mission of the congregation and how it has been lived out in the church
  2. To  address whether or not the vision and mission of the church produces radical change within the church community or is the basis for ministries of familiarity and complicity
  3. To consider how various social groups (gender, age, racial/ethnic, class, immigrant, sexual orientation, etc) interpret the vision and mission, as well as the role of the church community
  4. To re-evaluate the vision and mission in light of the above, and re-imagine new statements or new ways of practicing ministry that challenge familiarity and complicity.


  1. Read Erskine Clarke’s Convocation Address entitled, “The Seductiveness of the Familiar.”
  2. Review video recorded response by Margaret Aymer to questions 2 (seductiveness of the familiar in the church) and 3 (complicity). Cue these to be played or transcribe or use the paraphrase in this lesson plan.

Materials: Pen and paper, copy of the vision and/or mission statement of the church, white board or poster paper, markers


  1. Identify – Ask participants to write down individually what they believe to be the vision and mission of the church and which ministries within the church live that out.   After doing so, have participants share their thoughts and relay key ideas on white board or newsprint for everyone to see.
  1. Explore – Have someone read aloud the formal vision and mission statements of the church if one exists.1 Discuss the context within which the formal statements were originally written.  Discussion questions:  Has the context changed since the development of these statements?  What do you believe to be the original intent of the vision and mission statements of the church? Are there discrepancies or nuances between the participants’ understanding of the vision and mission in #1 and the actual formal statements?
  1. In the video interview for question 2, Margaret Aymer describes an experience in the church which she claims says something about the church’s ignorance with regards to its changing social reality.  As a Director of Christian Education, she encountered a young child who struggled to find her reality represented in the life of her Sunday school classroom.  (If a majority of the participants have not seen the video clip, it may be helpful to show this portion.)  From her example, Aymer believes the present educational resources of the church said something about the church members familiarity and nostalgia with the past that inhibited them from realizing how such resources would effect a changing population.  Discussion questions:  In thinking about the current ministries of the church, in what ways do these ministries reflect the concerns and needs of its social demographic?  In what ways are they ignorant of changes that have taken place or are resistant to such changes? (Have participants name the demographics and social conditions of the church and its surrounding community).
  1. In the segment of her interview for question 3 (complicity), Aymer describes how the PC (USA) as a denomination struggled to overcome issues of complacency with the state of the church, therefore developing the Confession of 1967.  However, she argues that such complacency continues to exist particularly in the local churches despite a changing society.  The example she uses is how churches in need of pastors would rather go without, before calling one who is unfamiliar to them, specifically racially or by gender.  She goes on to say that churches are stuck in what they think they ought to be, which may not be where God may be taking them today.  Discussion questions:  In examining the life and ministries of your church, identify areas in which you think the church has knowingly not responded to changes in its social reality?  What do you believe lies behind this lack of motivation or willingness to change?
  1. Respond – Revisit the vision and mission statements of the church.  Have someone read them aloud again.  Discussion questions:  In light of our conversations on familiarity and complicity with in the life of the church, do you feel that the vision and mission statements are sources that promote familiarity and complicity or are they statements that call for radical change within the church community as its social reality changes? Another way to frame the question would be to ask, do these statements seek to maintain a specific church identity and role within the community throughout time, or can they be used as tools within the church’s own self-understanding of identity to help it transform along with other changes it may face throughout time?
  1. Visioning – Every congregation has some form of diversity within it, whether it is age, gender, race/ethnicity, nationality, theology, etc.  Based on the answers to #5, discuss how various social groups might interpret the church’s statement and actions.  How would youth interpret such statements?  Are the current statements adequate enough to sustain the church through the rapid change of our culture?  If yes, how might the ministries of the church better strive to meet the needs of the people?  If no, what would new vision and mission statements look like?
  1. Closing – In a circle, join together in prayer, using the new statements and /or ministry proposals as a guide in asking God to reveal areas of familiarity and complicity within the life of the church that hinder God’s transformative work.  As God for the courage, grace, and love to challenge what has been and to constantly seek new ways of being.

Lesson 3:  The Love of “Good Things”

Purpose: Often it’s easier to name outside forces or situations that exploit, impoverish, or ignore the plight of people around the world, then, to name and challenge one’s own participation in injustice locally and globally.  This lesson is created to help participants reflect on their own vulnerability to seductive comforts and challenge them to courageously make more informed choices that may require great sacrifice.


  1. To clearly name the seductions present in one’s personal life journey
  2. To explore one’s own participation in, complicity towards, and struggle against life choices that hinder the full flourishing of all people.


  1. Read Erskine Clarke’s Convocation Address entitled, “The Seductiveness of the Familiar.”
  2. Arrange room in a Semi-circle and view the video recorded response by Paul Huh to question 3 (complicity). Provide a transcript of Professor Huh’s remarks on his personal experience as an immigrant to America at age 14 or paraphrase for the students.
  3. The statements for Sequence #1 and 2 should be written on poster paper and posted on the walls before participants arrive.  For Sequence 2 part b, each heading should be listed separately.

Materials: Bible, markers and poster paper


  1. Opening – As participants enter the room, ask them to take a pen or marker and write on the poster their answers to the following questions/statements:
  1. In response to the above statements, ask participants to share their thoughts regarding the following questions: What’s at stake for you and the relationships you enjoy?  How do our individual choices effect the poor and disenfranchised with in our local community; immigrant communities in the US; and the global community?
  1. Play the segment of Paul Huh’s response to question 3 (complicity) from this issue or talk briefly about his personal experience as an immigrant coming to America at age 14. Discuss together times that you have encountered the unfamiliar in language, race, social class, culture. What was that experience like? What was most helpful to you in feeling comfortable within that encounter? What differences in power or privilege were evident in this encounter?
  1. Read Mark 7:24-30. This is Jesus’ encounter with a woman of foreign birth. What factors in the Jewish culture of the time made this encounter difficult? (Differences in gender, Jewish/Gentile relations, perhaps class differences…) How do you interpret Jesus’ response? How was Jesus able to move beyond the familiar to grant this woman’s request?
  1. When I encounter the unfamiliar, I feel ___________________________

How does the perceived threat of the unfamiliar affect:

  1. Group reconvenes to discussion the following questions: What are the implications of your answers for how we live with one another?  Are we complicit in the same ways as Charles Colcock Jones and John Leighton Wilson?
  2. Close in prayer asking for strength to move past our fears of the unfamiliar to be able to serve Christ’s mission in our encounters with others in the church and world.