Following the Crowd


knew we were thinking the same thing. Isn’t singing in a round for little

We weren’t the only ones who thought so because a boy raised his hand and
said, “Michael, why are we doing this? I think we all learned how to sing
in a round in elementary school.”

Michael smiled. “I know, but it’s part of today’s lesson. Trust me, you’ll
learn something. Can you guys just go along with it for a bit, even if it
is for little kids?”

We all nodded, agreeing to participate.

Maddie and I were assigned to the same group. My family had been running
late to church that morning, so I’d sat in the back of the room. I got up,
ready to sit with Maddie and the other kids in my group, but Michael told
all of us to stay where we were.

“When I say your number, I want you to start singing ‘Row, Row, Row Your
Boat,” Michael said. “Number ones, start singing.” A few kids around me
started singing.

Michael waited a few moments and then told the kids who’d been assigned the
number two to start singing. Maddie and I were both twos, so we started
singing. But I quickly got confused. I kept hearing the other kids in the
first group singing, and I found myself singing with them instead of with
my own group.

Then Michael told the kids who’d been assigned the number three to start
singing. And I got even more confused. I tried to keep my place in the
song, but it was so hard with the other kids around me singing different
words. I knew the words to the song, but no matter how hard I tried, I
always ended up singing with the kids around me.

Other people must have had the same trouble because the song just sounded
like noise.

Michael held up his hand. “Okay, stop singing, everyone,” he said. After we
got quiet, Michael said, “That didn’t sound very good. Let’s try something

Michael asked the kids who’d been assigned the number one to stand
together. Then he asked the twos and the threes to get in their own groups.
I was happy to finally get to move by Maddie.

“Let’s try this again,” Michael said. “Group number one, start singing.” He
waited a few moments and then said, “Group number two, start singing.”

I started singing. I could hear Maddie and the other kids in my group
singing, but this time, I wasn’t confused. We were all singing the same
words and that made it easy to keep my place.

The third group started singing, but I still sang the words without getting

When we finished the song, Michael started clapping. “That sounded great,”
he said. “It was the same kids singing the same song, but it sounded
completely different than the first time. Why?”

I raised my hand. “When our groups were all mixed up, I listened to the
other kids around me singing, and I got confused,” I said. “It was so much
easier to sing the right words when everyone around me was singing the same
words that I was.”

Michael smiled. “That’s true. Our little singing experiment taught us that
it’s hard to be the only one doing the right thing. It’s much easier to do
the same thing as the people around us. But is that always the right thing
to do?”

“That depends on who the other kids are and what they’re doing,” Maddie

Michael snapped his fingers. “Bingo! That’s exactly right. Have any of you
been in a situation where you wanted to do the right thing, but it was hard
because you’d be the only one?”

Nearly every kid nodded.

“When I was your age, I went to a party,” Michael said. “I didn’t know a
lot of the kids very well. They were all drinking alcohol and I really wanted to
fit in.”

My mouth dropped open. It was hard to picture Michael making a mistake that

“Kids kept offering me drinks and for a while, I said no,” Michael said.
“But the pressure really started to build. I felt like I was the only kid
there who wasn’t drinking.”

“So did you drink?” Someone asked.

“Well, the next time someone offered me a beer, I took the cup. I figured
that if I just held it in my hand, people would stop bugging me.” Michael
shook his head. “But then I saw some kids sitting in the corner, talking
and laughing. And none of them were holding a cup.”

“So what did you do?”

“I put down my cup and went and sat with them. For the rest of the night,
no one offered me a drink. And the pressure I felt went away because I knew
that I wasn’t the only one who was doing the right thing.” Michael sighed.
“But I have to be honest with you. If I hadn’t sat with those kids, I
probably would have drank that night.”

I thought about the singing experiment and how hard it’d been to stay on
track when everyone around me was singing different words. But it’d been
easy when the kids around me were singing the same words.

I raised my hand. “Michael, you were right. I did learn something.”

He smiled. “Tell us.”

“Sometimes, I think my faith in Jesus is so strong that I’ll do the right
thing no matter what everyone else does,” I said. “And if I’m ever in a
situation like the one you were in, I hope that I would make a good
decision. But that’s a tough thing to do.” I smiled. “What is easier than
that is just to surround yourself with Christian friends, so that you won’t
have to be the only one doing the right thing.”

Maddie nodded and said, “Following the crowd is so much easier than doing
the right thing on your own. But if your crowd is this youth group, who are
all trying to follow Jesus as best we can, it will be easier to keep each
other on track.”

Michael nodded. “That’s exactly what I hoped you’d learn. You still need to
be careful because even Christians make mistakes, but if we’re all
following Jesus, we can head in the right direction together.”

I looked around the room and thanked God for all of the Christian friends
He’d put in my life. Instead of following a crowd that could lead us to do
bad things, we could all follow Jesus together.

And together is so much easier than by yourself.

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Following the Crowd

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