Participants: Junior High, Senior High, and Adults

Materials needed:

A large candle should be burning in the center or front of the room when participants arrive. You will need small candles for each participant.
Flip chart and markers

Focus Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Step 1 – Preparation

    Write the two questions from the FOCUS section on flip chart paper.
    Invite persons in your congregation and/or community who work with youth, such as teachers, school counselors, coaches, drug prevention or treatment counselors, police officers, parole officers, other persons in law enforcement, etc. to participate. They can serve as informal resources for your discussions.

Step 2 – Focus on Information – Divide into groups according to age: Junior High, Senior High, and Adults. Give each group a piece of flip chart paper and marker. Do not tell each group the questions that the other group is answering.

Junior High and Senior High groups answer these questions. Put summary statements on the sheets of paper

    How have you learned about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco? How much of it is from peers, parents and how much is from drug-education resources and church?
    How does the information from peers and from educators or parents differ? Be honest about the value of information from both sources.

Adults answer these questions. Put summary statements on the sheets of paper

    When you were young, how did you learn about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco? How much of it was from peers, and how much from school, your parents and the church?
    How did the information from peers and from church, parents, and school differ? Be honest about the value of information from both sources.

Step 3 – When each of the groups have recorded their answers to the two questions, instruct them to have a discussion on the following points.

Junior High and Senior High school groups discuss the following and record their answers.

    What do you hear or see modeled by adults in this congregation that you appreciate in regards to the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?
    What do you hear or see demonstrated by adults in this congregation that you do not appreciate in regard to the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?
    Imagine you are an adult talking to someone your age about these topics. What would you tell them?
    Senior High school students – Based on your experience and knowledge, what do you think Junior High school students should know about this topic?

Adults discuss the following and record answers:

    What should this congregation’s stance be on the use of alcohol? drugs? tobacco?
    How could this be communicated to the young people in the church?
    How could this be communicated to the young people in the church?

Step 4 -Give the two groups ample time to complete their discussion and answers. Then call them back together into one group. Have a spokesperson from each group report the highlights of their discussion. Then, use the following questions to encourage discussion within the entire group.

    How are the adults of this community (within and outside the church) doing in educating youth about alcohol, tobacco and drugs?
    How are we doing in helping youth stay safe?
    What is our congregation’s role in addressing the struggles of the youth in our church?

Step 5 – Wrap up – Dim the lights and pass out a small candle to each participant. Have the entire group form a circle in the room.

Ask one participants to light his/her candle from the large candle burning in the center of the room, and then light the candle of the person next to him/her until the light has been passed all the way around the circle. When all candles are lit, a leader shares something like the following:

“Look around the group. The single candle that was burning when you came here today has now been multiplied. Look around the room. Your many individual lights all came from one source. Isn’t this much more beautiful than the one light alone? Working together, we can spread education and support for the prevention of substance abuse in our congregation and community. One light alone can’t illuminate this room, but that light can be passed on to others and multiply.

Let’s go out and share our light. Let’s make a difference in our world.”