Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Build. Plant. Grow.

What do the Gospel of Mark and the children's book Good Dog, Carl have in common?

A new Center character education program for churches uses both stories to address the question, How do we know the right thing to do, and do it?

Called Build.Plant.Grow., the program brings people-young and old-together to form character in community. The weekly lessons, available in an attractive, downloadable format, include questions for reflection, character education activities, themes for prayer, and ideas for service to the community.

Besides being intergenerational, Build. Plant. Grow. is interdenominational. Designed to be helpful to parents and caregivers, as well, each lesson is story- and activity-based.
In the example above, participants are asked to reflect on the scriptural passage in which Jesus calls on Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow him. How did the disciples know this was the right thing to do? Doing the right thing is also the focus of discussion about Good Dog, Carl, where the dog is responsible for taking care of the baby. Carl, in his way, must also do the right thing.

The lessons stress the importance of putting ethics into action. Another Sunday's lesson asks participants to write down three things they believe God would like them to do in the coming year, to list the things that might make these goals hard to achieve, and to consider how they would ensure that they actually did what they said they would do.
Build.Plant.Grow is keyed to the Lectionary, the list of scriptural texts recommended for Sunday reading for Catholic and most mainline Protestant churches. The title is taken from Jeremiah, who advised:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce;.. multiply there and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.

Build. Plant. Grow. is accessible online with new lessons posted weekly.