The rights and privileges a society bestows upon or withholds from those who comprise it indicate the relative esteem in which that society holds particular persons and groups of persons. We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation. Our respect for the inherent dignity of all persons leads us to call for the recognition, protection, and implementation of the principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that communities and individuals may claim and enjoy their universal, indivisible, and inalienable rights.
The foundational understanding we have as United Methodists and disciples of Jesus Christ is that all persons are equally valuable in the sight of God and, just like the above paragraph states, we work to this end. The hopeful result of this work that each person has value in all that we do. I love that about the description of social community in the Social Principles, because that is a church that I can get really excited about.
In this section of the Social Principles you are going to see a lot about peoples rights; the rights of children, youth, adults, aging, women, men, immigrants, and persons with disabilities. You will also see thoughts and beliefs about population, alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, medical experimentation, genetic technology, media, violence, and Christian values. This community is very important for you to talk openly about with your teenagers. Today we are wrestling with all of these things, not to mention the rights of people regardless of sexual orientation, the rights of persons with HIV or AIDS, the right to health care, and other technologies that impact us all.
This is not a section in the Social Principles that you will struggle with what to talk about. Your teenagers have active opinions of their social community and it’s important that we have this conversation in the context of love and grace. So, let’s talk about the ways in which we can actively take this conversation to our own communities.
Conversation about Value
One of my favorite things to do is bringing something popular in culture and having a conversation with teenagers about value. A conversation about value with our students is an important one that applies to the general atmosphere most teenagers are exposed to. This is a great opportunity to talk about the value that is given to us by God and we are called to give to others as followers of Christ. The following is what you will need to have a discussion about value with your youth:
- Go look at the Top 10 songs downloaded from iTunes
- On the list choose 3 songs and print the lyrics
- Have enough copies for all students and adults to be able to look at them
Your conversation with your teenagers and adults should be guided by grace and love. To this end, it would beneficial for you to have a moment to have the students agree up front to respect each other in this group and extend grace and love to each other at all times. Throughout this conversation your students, volunteers, and yourself will be analyzing the lyrics of the songs you selected and discussing what the songs are about. Start the conversation by handing out the lyric handouts. Say that as a group you’ll be talking about value. Value is something we receive and something that we are called to give by God. In order to do that, discuss the lyrics to see what they are about and whether or not they articulate what we are called to.
Choose a couple of youth per song to read the lyrics. (There will probably be lots of laughing which makes it a lot of fun.)
After each song is read ask the following question: What is this song about? What is the artist attempting to express?
After all the lyrics have been read and you as a group have discussed what each song expresses, begin talking about value.
Do you feel valued when you read the songs? What did the songs cause you feel? Why did you feel that way?
How are we called to value each other?
In this conversation hopefully you’ll have great opportunities to share how you value yourself and others – providing an example of how to embrace and share value in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. This conversation can be very groundbreaking for some students because they may have not experienced the value that God gives us. The greatest way to minister to your kids about value just like anything is not just talking about value and valuing others, but actually showing how they do that by the way you treat them.
As always my prayers are always with you and your ministry. If you have any prayer requests I would love to pray for you and help you in any way I can. We youth workers and disciples need to stick together in the love and grace of Christ. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can pray for you and help you in anyway I can.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of God!
Grace and Peace,
Bradley W. Alexander
Director of Student Ministries