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For The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

By Sally Ulrey

Key verses: Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will
be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Objective: To help youth renew their thinking about the pressures of life, so they can be
transformed into newness and freedom instead of being conformed to a mold society sets.
The Set up: Moderate

The Plan:
 Hook: Fit the Mold (20 mins)
o You’ll project several silhouettes onto a wall covered in butcher paper, and youth will try to
make their bodies align into the projected poses.
o Show a funny clip of a Japanese game show, where the object of the game is similar to the
above activity
 Book: “Do not Conform” (5 mins)
o Looking at Romans 12:2, discuss our call to break society’s molds for our lives
 Look: Under Pressure (10 mins)
o On the butcher paper, have youth write/draw the things that pressure them into fitting into the
molds represented by the silhouettes.
 Took: Break the Mold (20 mins)
o On the butcher paper, have the youth trace around themselves to create a silhouette of their
own (transformed) pose, that isn’t pushed by external pressure.
o Youth will write the thing they need to remember to help them renew their mind and change
their thinking to be freer from external pressures. Have them take a picture of this pose/quote
and carry it with them this week.
The Supplies:
 Copy of lesson
 Rolls of white Butcher/Craft Paper
 Masking Tape
 Lots of different colored markers
 Projector (needs to be a projector) for silhouette slideshow
 Way to show video clip
 Camera that can take “burst” pictures (sports setting which takes multiple pictures rapidly)
 Bibles

The Preparation:
 Tape butcher paper over a whole wall or two, enough that each youth could trace their silhouette, plus room for
about 5-6 extra silhouettes
 Adjust the projector so the silhouettes are life-sized
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
Fit the Mold (Hook, 20 mins)
In this section, youth will try to conform their bodies into the poses which are projected onto the wall. The
point is to introduce the idea of having to fit ourselves to a predetermined mold. This will come into play later
when we discuss the Scripture (about not being conformed to a mold, but being transformed…breaking the
mold), and when they discuss the pressures from society that try to push them into being a certain way, when
God calls us to something different and free from having to fit a mold.

 Silhouettes. Onto the wall, project the silhouettes (see end of lesson) of different people posing. You’ll
need to adjust the projector so that they silhouettes are life-sized, and youth can imitate them.
 Participants. Ask for youth to volunteer to make the different poses
 Pictures. As an added element, take pictures of youth posing to judge how close they can get to the
original silhouette. (You could also give prizes to those who participate and those who get closest to
the pose). As the poses get progressively harder (jumping poses), you will need a camera with a
“burst” shot setting (takes many pictures in rapid succession). You’ll also need a way to project these
pictures (download them onto your laptop, AppleTV, etc).
 Video Clip. Say something like “now we’re going to watch a silly clip from a Japanese game show,
where contestants were asked to do something with a similar premise: fit the mold”
o Play the video clip (5 mins):
(It’s not high def, but you’ll get the idea)

Transition: These games asked you to fit a mold. They asked you to conform yourself to a predetermined
pose. We are asked to do that many times and in many ways in our society. We’re asked to be quiet and
studious learners, then we’re asked to be friendly and outgoing, then we’re asked to make sure we get plenty
of exercise and excel in extra-curriculars. We have molds for all kinds of areas in our lives that we’re expected
to fit into. Having an idea of what is expected of us isn’t necessarily bad, but when it brings so much pressure
to conform to something we’re not supposed to be, that’s a problem. But God’s word has something to say
about that…

“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Do Not Conform (Book, 5 mins)
In this section, we take a look at a verse from Romans about not conforming to a mold, but being transformed,
and how that applies to dealing with the pressures of life.

 Read Romans 12:2 (below for your reference)

 Do a quick word study on the words “conform” and “transform”.
o “Conform to the pattern of this world”…. You’re fitting in. It means that when pressure comes,
you bow to the pressure, and become whatever the external force makes you into.
o “Transform by the renewing of your mind”… You’re breaking out. It means that when pressure
comes, you transform the mold instead of the mold transforming you. The pressure on the
inside of you is greater than the pressure outside, because you know the truth about who you
are (your mind has been renewed in Christ), and so you stay intact, who you are, and instead,
your pressure is exerted outward, on the mold, and it changes the world.
o Conform—external pressure…the world changes you from the outside in
o Transform—internal…changes the world from the inside out
o Result: Know God’s will for you…Be who you are meant to be

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be
able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Transition: Remember how hard some of you worked to fit the poses? It can be exhausting to have to do that
mentally and emotionally and spiritually (not just physically like in our game) all the time! Remember in the
Japanese game show clip, there was one guy who broke the mold. It didn’t push him. He stood strong, and
the mold just broke apart around him. How freeing that would be! That’s what Romans is talking about… “the
world” puts so many pressures on us to be a certain way. But God says we’re not supposed to just fit into
that. God has made us who we are, and we are to change the world instead of the world changing us!

“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Under Pressure… (Look, 15 mins)
Now that Queen is playing in your head, you can move on to this next part, where students will examine what
things society pressures them to be, and specifically what kinds of pressures to conform they are dealing with
in their own lives. (You can even play Queen’s “Under Pressure” while they do this activity)

 Project the last slide of silhouettes

 Make the many different markers available.
 Instruct them to write or draw something that depicts the different pressures they feel to be in these
different places in their lives (students, athletes, friends, children/in a family). Have them write
directly around the silhouettes (not inside them) so that when the projector is turned off, you have an
idea of where the silhouettes were.
 Give them 7 or 10 mins to complete the activity, writing society’s expectations on the butcher paper
around each silhouette.

 LEADER TIP: be prepared to give examples of something they could write around each
silhouette. For instance, around the studying student, they might write “8 hrs at school + 6 hrs
at home” or “All A’s, All AP’s to get into college” or something to depict how much they are
expected to study. Or around the student with friends might write “always be friendly and
happy and spend all my time with friends even though sometimes I need to rest”) Give other
examples as needed and appropriate.

Transition: Knowing what is expected can sometimes be helpful, especially if those expectations are realistic.
But when we have to be someone we aren’t, or when there’s no possible way to meet those expectations, or,
when, to fit in, we have to deny who God made us to be…those are times when trying to fit into society’s mold
can be painful and hurtful and unhealthy. Some of what you wrote might be helpful to navigating society, but
probably a lot of it is unrealistic and asks us to live into some societal practices that aren’t always good for us.
Sometimes the world tries to change us from the outside in. So now we’re going to explore what it looks like
when we let who we are in Christ transform us and then the world from the inside out. That’s freedom to
break the mold!

“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Break the Mold (Took, 20 mins)
This is where they’ll explore what truths can help “renew their minds” and give them strength not to conform,
but instead to be transformed, and to be able to transform the world from the inside out.
At the end, you’ll have youth take a picture of their silhouette and their truth to carry with them this week.

Internal Truths to Renew the Mind (5 mins)

 On the inside of all the silhouettes that are being projected on the butcher paper, have them write a
truth to hold on to that is freeing them from having to fit that mold. Be ready with examples.
o For instance, if they feel most pressured by school, they might write “God loves me no matter
what my grades are” or “I am God’s child before I am anything else”. Or if they are most
pressured by pleasing friends, they might write “God loves and understands me as I am; I don’t
have to be anyone else for anyone else” or “It doesn’t matter what anyone else says about me
except God”
 Give them about 5 mins to write a truth that helps them push back on society’s pressures on the
INSIDE of each silhouette.

Freedom Poses (10 mins)

 Then have them find a free space on the butcher paper where they’ll have a partner trace their
silhouette. Have them pick a pose that represents who they are, and the truth they most need to hold
onto to be free from the pressure of the mold.
o For example, if they need to stop listening to what other people say about who they are, maybe
their partner will trace their silhouette with their hands covering their ears. Or maybe they
want to listen more to God, so they trace themselves with their hands up in worship or kneeling
in prayer. Or maybe they want to study God’s Word more to help them renew their thinking,
so they are in the study pose, but it means something different now….
 Give them about 5 mins to trace their poses with a partner. They can decorate it with any extra time.
 Instruct them to write their freeing truth about God’s love they most need to focus on INSIDE of their
pose silhouette
 Have them take a picture of their silhouette with their truth written inside to carry with them as a
reminder this week.

Sharing (5-10 mins)

 Have them share their pose, truth, and why they chose it with a partner. As time permits, you may
want to do this with the whole group.
 Remind them that when they are authentically who God made them to be, the truth of that is an
example that can change the world.

Close in prayer, thanking God for the truths that allow us freedom to break the mold and be who God made
us to be, and asking for strength to push back on the pressure we feel, and break the mold and transform the
world. AMEN!

“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
“Break the Mold” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta

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