A picture's worth a lot of words

Deep Justice Journeys Sample Activity

Brad M. Griffin Image Brad M. Griffin | Jul 4, 2011

Excerpted from Kara Powell and Brad Griffin, Deep Justice Journeys: 50 Activities to Move from Mission Trips to Missional Living (Grand Rapids: Youth Specialties/Zondervan, 2009). Used with permission.

Big Idea: There are more connections between our justice work and our lives at home than we might realize.

You’ll need:

  • Pictures from your justice experience (make them at least 5 x 7 if not 8 x 10). You want more pictures than students, so if you expect 12 students at your meeting, print 18 to 24 pictures.
  • Similarly, print pictures of various scenes that represent your students’ lives at home. These might include a nearby shopping mall, a typical house in your town, a high school, a movie theatre, or a coffee shop. You might even ask a few students to be the shutterbugs and take and/or print out these pictures.

Welcome students and then ask: Think back to our justice work and imagine that your mind is a camera. What images and memories of our experience are most vivid?

Display pictures of your time serving along a table or a wall. Ask your students to come and look at the pictures without talking. After a few minutes, invite each student to choose a picture that triggers a significant thought or feeling. If more than one student wants the same picture, that’s okay; they can both work from the same picture.

Divide your students into groups of three or four and explain: I’d like each group member to share about the picture he or she chose and why it’s personally significant. After each person has shared, the rest of the group can add comments or insights about that picture or the person who shares it, based on what they remember from our justice work.

After the groups have finished, display the pictures of life at home in the same way. Again ask students to come and look at the pictures without talking, and then choose one picture that’s significant to them.

Invite the students to return to their small groups and share about the pictures they’ve chosen and why they are significant. Similar to before, the rest of the group should add comments or insights about that picture or the person who has just shared.

After the small groups have finished, explain: There’s one more question I’d like us to discuss. You’ve talked about the picture from our trip, and you’ve talked about the home picture. But you haven’t talked about how the two pictures relate to each other. How are the two pictures you’ve selected similar? How are they different? Please talk about that in your small groups. If students get stuck, encourage them to raise their hands so you or another adult can come and prod their thinking.

Ask students to return to one large group and invite anyone who wants to share about the relationship between the two pictures to do so. After a number of people have shared, ask:

Q: What themes stood out in either your small-group or our large-group discussions?

Q: What feelings emerged in you during this process?

Q: What does this say about us as a group?

Q: What does this say about our time serving, and how that justice work relates to our lives now?

Q: How can what we’ve seen and discussed today help us go deeper in our justice work?

Close in prayer, but ask your students to keep their eyes open as you pray, looking at the two pictures they’ve chosen. If it feels appropriate, invite some of your students to also pray aloud. Encourage students to take both pictures home and place them in a visible location as a reminder of how their justice work relates to home, and vice versa.

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Brad M. Griffin Image
Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content & Research for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based resources for youth ministry leaders & families. A speaker, writer, and volunteer pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over fifteen books, including Faith Beyond Youth Group, 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager & 3 Big Questions That Shape Your Future, Growing Young, and Sticky Faith. Brad and his wife, Missy, live in Southern California and share life with their three teenage and young adult kids.

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