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Secret Rules

China
American girl eating in China

Missionaries to other countries may have trouble learning all the customs and unwritten rules of the people around them. For example, in some countries, it is not polite to eat with the left hand, and in some places, it is insulting to show others the bottom of one’s shoe.

Divide into two teams. Have teams meet separately where they can’t hear each other while discussing their strategy. Ask each team to make up a very simple imaginary secret rule about eating a snack. Examples: Use only your right hand to eat. Or everyone must sit with their right foot crossed over their left. Or every spoken sentence must end with “please” or “thank you.” Or girls must look down at their food and never raise their eyes.

Then let the teams interact while a simple snack is served. Try to discover the other team’s secret rule within a certain time limit. (If you do not want to serve a snack, teams can think of a rule to follow while listening to a story.)

To Think About

  • What are some “unwritten” rules or customs of your country that others might have trouble understanding?
  • With an adult, attend a church that follows customs with which you are not familiar. Talk about how it felt to be in a place with different “rules.”
  • How can you welcome and help new people who come to your church and might not understand how things are done at your church?

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