Question the Herd
Blindly going along with the crowd is rarely a good idea. Instead, we should take a stand on what we know to be the truth. While that may be tough to do in the moment, it is always the best course of action.
The Discussion Starter: Question the Herd
The short video clip you’ll use for this discussion comes from the Netflix show called Brain Games, Season 5, Episode 8, “Peer Pressure” (though a simple YouTube link will be provided so you can easily show the clip to your group).
In this scene, the show’s host, Jason, interrupts some sightseers to find out if they’d like to participate in a social experiment. He shows ten people two different placards with various lines drawn on them. Then he asks the participants to decide which lines are the same length. Pretty simple, right?
Well, Jason has stacked the deck against the tenth and final person to participate in each group…because the first nine people are actually conspiring together with the host. One by one, the first nine people all say the same (wrong) answer. When the tenth person is invited to give his or her answer, viewers see their confusion because, on one hand, they think the entire crowd is wrong, but on the other hand, they don’t want to be that one person who’s different or wrong.
What will they do? And more importantly, why?
The Video Clip: This clip is available online at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IJCXXTMrv8
“Have you ever ignored the truth to fit in with the group?” That’s the question the show’s host asks us in this clip. “Have you ever ignored the truth…to fit in with the group?” In other words, have you ever taken a stand with the crowd even when you knew it wasn’t right? I get it. It’s tough to take a stand when all eyes are on you, and I’m not just talking about for teenagers. Every person in this clip was an adult and they still got tripped up on this! But here’s the deal: blindly going along with the crowd is rarely a good idea. Instead, we should take a stand on what we know to be the truth. While that may be tough to do in the moment, it is always the best course of action. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about this in more detail.
Divide into Small Groups: Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format – a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether we’d participate in an “on-the-street” social experiment if invited.
- ASK A FEW: In your opinion, how obvious was it that Line C was the right answer?
- ASK A FEW: So why did the participants who seemed to know the right answer go with the wrong answer?
- ASK A FEW: OK, you and I were watching that clip from the safety of our youth room. Be completely and totally honest! If you were in that exact same situation and that same crowd was staring at you in person, what would you have done? Why?
- ASK A FEW: The crowd misled the participants in the video about the length of a stupid line. I’m willing to bet that the crowds around us mislead us in more serious ways. What are some of them?
- ASK A FEW: It seems like some adults are always talking with young people about avoiding the dangers of peer pressure…but everyone in the video clip who fell victim to peer pressure was an adult! Is it possible to outgrow the allure of peer pressure? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Why is it so hard to go against the crowd…even when we know they’re wrong?
- ASK A FEW: If we aren’t supposed to base our decisions and actions on whatever the crowd chooses to do…what should we base our decisions and actions on?
Read the following passage:
Do not conform any longer 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.
- ASK A FEW: What does Paul (the writer of this verse) mean when he says “don’t conform to the pattern of this world?”
- ASK A FEW: If we want to be transformed – in other words, become a new person – then we have to renew our minds. What are some ways we can do that?
- ASK A FEW: Paul says that if we renew our minds and refuse to conform to this world, we’ll be able to know what God’s will is. How important is that? Why?
- ASK A FEW: I want to ask a tough question, a question you’ve already heard from the video clip: “Have you ever ignored the truth to fit in with the group?” If so, can you briefly tell us about that experience? How did it turn out?
- ASK A FEW: What are the dangers of ignoring the truth to fit in with the group?
- ASK A FEW: How will our faith and our lives be affected if we go along with the crowd instead of the truth?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: What’s one decision you can make this week that will help you break away from the herd and take a stand on truth?
In the video clip we watched, we saw a few adults give in to peer pressure when they knew all along in their guts that the crowd was wrong. But they’re not the only ones who do that. Too often, you and I do the same thing.
We know it’s wrong to gossip about a friend, but a few of the more popular kids started it, so we are tempted to go along with it….
We know it’s wrong to cheat on the test, but a friend got his hands on the answer sheet and is making copies for everyone right now….
We know it’s wrong to drink, but if some of the girls show up at the party with alcohol, we’re going to be faced with a tough call….
OK, those are just a few scenarios; we talked about others in our breakout groups. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, if we take a stand with the crowd, chances are good we’re making a bad decision. But if we take a stand on the truth, we are guaranteed to make the right decision…even if it’s not a popular one.
At the end of the day, what you have to decide is whether you want to take a stand with God or not. The verse we looked at during our discussion time tells us we can “conform” to this world or be “transformed” by God. If we conform to this world, we’ll look just like it, and everyone else in it. If we choose to be transformed by God, we’ll look like His Son Jesus, which is God’s will for our lives.
I know it’s not always easy to take a stand for truth over the crowd. In fact, it’s rarely easy to do that! But it’s always the best decision to make. The video clip talked about “questioning the herd” which was their way of saying we should ask ourselves if the crowd’s influence is good for us or not. I definitely think you should do that in every decision you make. In the end, if the crowd’s influence will lead you away from God, or your family, or your integrity…then leave them behind and take a stand on God’s truth. You’ll be glad you did.
In a moment, we’re going to close in prayer. If you’d like to talk about this more, you’re always welcome to speak with me or one of our adult leaders. We know we’re calling you to do a difficult thing, so we don’t want you to have to face that alone. We’re here to help you in any way we can.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.