Laborers in the… Toxic Grass Yard?

I got to lead an activity on Wednesday to illustrate the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. I presented each small group with the challenge of getting from one side of the front yard to the other by only stepping on the small paper plates they were given. They had to work together as a team to develop a strategy and make their way across without touching the “toxic” grass below them. The only catch was that one team had to deal with a series of limitations. I passed out slips of paper indicating that one group member only had one leg, another could only speak when spoken to, another was told that they were hungry and cranky and were to act in a disruptive manner toward the group, another was instructed to act sad and lonely and not trust their group members. They were also told not to tell the other group that they faced limitations. When the activity started the group without limitations was obviously making more progress than the group with limitations. As they were making their way across the grass I sneakily gave extra paper plates to walk on. A couple times they were granted amnesty when a foot touched the grass, instead of going back to start over like the other group had to do they were able to keep moving forward. Both teams made it to the other side, but the group without limitations was vocally frustrated that the game was “not fair!” saying that the only way the other team won was because the game was slanted to give them more help.
During the debrief both groups reflected on how the experience made them feel. The team with limitations initially felt held back but then was grateful for the extra support given to them. The other team was frustrated that the game wasn’t fair. I then read the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard and explained how life’s not fair and God doesn’t intend for it to be. The reality is that there will always be people in life who are set back because of circumstances beyond their control and God’s justice would be for them to receive what they need. I love using this parable to explain the concept of privilege and using active simulations to begin the discussion.

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