Christ taught that we were to be unified. This should apply to our family, our organizations, our churches, and anyplace else we find ourselves. It doesn’t mean we all have to be identical, but we are to work together in a spirit of peace and love. This family night will help your family work to achieve unity in the home and in other places they spend their time.
Learn how to plan a family night.
Before the family gathers, think of something heavy in your home that can be moved somewhere else only if the entire family works together. As the family enters, hand them a slip of paper that says, “Tonight will be a moving experience. We are going to move something. When I ask everyone to help out, please help carry the _____ to the _____. Don’t tell anyone what this paper says.”
In the first blank, put the name of the item to be moved. In the second blank, list a place the item could be moved to. However, give each person a different location, so that when they start to move the item, they will all try to go in different directions. If you have children who can’t read, pull them aside and tell them what the note says.
Begin the lesson by asking one person to move the item alone. It should be someone who has no possibility of success. Suggest he might need a little help. Ask everyone to help you move the item. Remind them the location it’s going to is on their paper, and they should just get to work on it without talking about what they’re doing or where they are going. It will quickly be evident the effort isn’t going to be successful. Have them stop and ask them what’s wrong. When they complain everyone is going a different way, ask each person where their note said to move the item. When they have done this, say, “So, we all had different goals. Let’s try this differently. Let’s all work together to move it to ____________. What’s the best way to do it?” When the item has been moved, invite them all to take their seats.
Ask: Why couldn’t one person move the item alone? Why couldn’t we move it as a group the first time? Why were we successful the second time?
Explain: The first time, the group had different goals. They were all trying to get somewhere different from the rest of the family and for that reason, no one was successful. Once everyone was unified and working toward the same goal, it was an easy task. Just as we couldn’t move this item alone or when we all had different goals, we can’t successfully reach our goals in life alone. We need God’s help, and we need each other’s help. If we work together as a family, we can accomplish all sorts of wonderful things.
Give each member of your family a Bible verse about unity. You might want to use some of the following. (Scriptures are taken from the King James Bible.)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1)
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:5)
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. (Acts 4:32)
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (Philippians 1:27)
As you read the scriptures, help the family note the elements of unity described in the scriptures you chose. Talk about some of the ways you could implement those ideas in your own family.
To help your family learn to apply this concept, try some case studies. If your children are younger, hide the questions around the room. Write the questions on colored paper or cardstock and assign each child a color. They can only find their own colors, and they mustn’t tell anyone when they find another color—unless they’re asked for help. If your children are older, let them take turns drawing a situation from a box or bag.
Create an ending to each story. After the family has discussed it, read what really happened.
Following are some sample stories. You may prefer to invent your own to meet the needs of your own family.
1. The family is deciding what to do this Saturday. Everyone has a different idea of what the family could do together. Katie really wants to go on a hike because she is starting a rock collection and thinks she could find interesting rocks that way. Jessica wants to play baseball. Alexander wants to go roller skating. The parents decided to let the children choose. The family has two choices—they can fight over it, or they can think about it in a unified way.
(Guide the children to recognize these points:
If they fight: Everyone will be angry, and no one will really want to be together on Saturday anyway. The “losers” won’t have any fun.
If they are unified: The rest of the week will be good and the family will enjoy the outing because they all planned it.)
Solution: At first, everyone wanted his or her own way. Then Jessica pointed out that she and Alexander just chose things that were fun. However, Katie’s new rock collection was really important to her. Since she had a special reason for her choice, the children decided to go on the hike and help Katie find rocks. They agreed the next trip would be Jessica’s choice and the one after that would be Alexander’s choice.
2. Alexander and Katie are playing together. They hear Jessica in her room, sounding upset. When they go in to check it out, they see she has tears in her eyes. She has to have her multiplication tables memorized for a test on Monday and she’s having trouble with them. Alexander starts to laugh at her because multiplication was easy for him to learn. What should he and Jessica do—go back to their game, or something else?
Solution: Multiplication was easy for Katie, too, but she notices how sad and worried Jessica is, and drags her brother into the hall. She suggests they need to be unified in helping their sister. The two put their game away and come back in to help Jessica make some really pretty flash cards. Then they help her drill and even think of some fun games they could play that help her learn while having fun.
3. Alexander’s Sunday School class is doing a service project, making things for children in a homeless shelter. Several of the boys are goofing off and a box of small beads gets knocked onto the floor. Everyone starts arguing over whose fault it is and who should pick them up. Alexander wasn’t one of the boys goofing off. What should he do?
Solution: While everyone else is arguing, Alexander remembers his family night lesson on unity. He wonders what Jesus would do. He knows Jesus wouldn’t argue about who should clean up. Jesus would just go to work, so Alexander quietly starts picking up the beads, even though it wasn’t his fault at all. Soon the other boys notice and stop arguing. Following Alexander’s example, they all go to work and soon the beads are cleaned up.
Ask your family to select one area of their home that could be improved through working in unity. Make a plan as a family to carry it out. Then ask them to each think of a way to build unity someplace else—at school, at church, or in their neighborhood—and work on it themselves or with others.