Lesson 3: How To Have A Good Church Fight!
Conflict is going to happen. It’s nearly impossible to have relationships with people and not have conflict. Our different personalities, ideas, and desires can cause conflict with each other often on a daily basis. The key question is not, “Will we have conflict?” Rather, the key question is, “How can we deal with conflict in a way that brings glory to God and does not harm our friendship?” This is not an easy question to answer. Paul and Barnabas faced a difficult decision. They both had strong opinions as to what was the right way to handle it. Rather than get angry with each other, they chose to “agree to disagree.” This is what the children will learn how to do in today’s lesson.
At Home Instructions
Big Idea If Eye To Eye You Can’t See, You’ve Gotta Learn To Agree To Disagree!
Power Verse In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing. – Philippians 2:14
Learning to effectively resolve conflicts within the family lays the foundation for effectively resolving conflicts in other settings, such as school or work. Read the scenarios below and discuss the questions that follow.
Emily’s mother walks by the overflowing trash can in the kitchen. She shouts for Emily to come into the kitchen, and then yells at Emily because she hasn’t taken out the trash. Emily gets mad, screaming that it’s Jacob’s turn to take out the trash, not hers. Emily’s mom angrily tells her to empty it anyway. Emily does, and both Emily and her mom leave the room fuming. This scene, and others like it, happens frequently.
• What could Emily’s mom have done differently?
• What could Emily have done differently?
• What could have prevented the conflict?
• Now that they’ve argued, what should they do to resolve their conflict?
Michael wants his curfew to be changed from 10:00 to midnight. He repeatedly begs his parents to let him stay out later, but they refuse. Although they don’t verbally argue, both Michael and his parents feel the gulf developing between them. Michael has become sullen and uncommunicative; his parents refuse to budge on their position. They’ve had this same kind of argument before over Michael’s hair and his clothes.
•How can this conflict be resolved?
•What are some ways to deal with these types of conflicts in the future?
Often there’s no easy answer to resolving family conflicts. It almost always requires both sides to be willing to communicate and compromise. Here are some tips that might be helpful when dealing with conflict within your family:
Prevent the conflict from happening. In Scenario 1, for example, Emily and Justin could take turns emptying the trash each week. Their mom could post a schedule on the refrigerator. Then there would be no question as to whose turn it is to empty the trash.
Take the emotions out of the situation. Michael and his parents could write down their reasons for why they do or don’t want to extend the curfew and then discuss them. This might help each of them see the other person’s viewpoint and be more objective.
Remember the other person. When dealing with matters of preference or opinion, parents and children alike should learn to ask themselves, “Is being ‘right’ or getting my own way worth possibly damaging our relationship?” Hard but important lesson to learn.
Read Romans 12:18 and discuss how living at peace with other people is a choice. Emphasize to your children that while there are times when they must stick to their principles, many conflicts are disagreements over opinions or preferences, and those can be avoided simply by choosing not to fight.
The best way for children to learn this? By seeing their parents set the example. Ask God to help your family deal with the conflicts that arise in a way that brings glory to Him.
Leader: Today we are talking about how to DEAL WITH conflict! It’s very important to...
Mr. Crabbe: What’s going on here?
Leader: Well, hey there Mr. Crabbe! I was just talking to the kids about what we’re learning about today!
Mr. Crabbe: Oh, yeah, what’s that?
Leader: We are learning about what the Bible says about how to DEAL WITH the times when we have conflict with another person.
Mr. Crabbe: Conflict? What’s conflict?
Leader: Well, it’s when you and another person disagree on something and just can’t seem to work it out.
Mr. Crabbe: Oh, yeah, well that’s exactly what happened between me and my aunt.
Leader: Your ant? I didn’t know you had a pet ant.
Mr. Crabbe: No, not ant. I am mad at my Aunt Alice! She’s made me very very mad!
Leader: Really? Well, what happened?
Mr. Crabbe: Well, she’s a part of this Bible study group that I am a part of. We meet each Monday at the local YMCA. They told us they were going to put some new carpet in the room where we meet and they were going to let us pick the color. The other day we had a meeting to decide what color of carpet to buy. I wanted to buy brown, but my Aunt Alice wants green. We argued for a long time. I got so mad, I stormed out! I am never going to talk to her again!
Leader: What? Now, Mr. Crabbe that’s no way to handle yourself.
Mr. Crabbe: Well, if she can’t see things my way, then she can just forget about getting my help on anything. Can you believe she wants the carpet GREEN? Green!? Who wants carpet the same color as boogers?
Leader: Mr. Crabbe!
Mr. Crabbe: She thinks it’s a good color, but it’s SNOT!
Leader: Now, Mr. Crabbe! Please! Let me ask you a question. Didn’t you say that this carpet is for the Bible study?
Mr. Crabbe: That’s right.
Leader: Did you ever stop to think what the Bible says about this?
Mr. Crabbe: The Bible talks about green carpet?
Leader: No, but it does talk about how God’s people shouldn’t fight and argue. We are supposed to love each other and work together in unity as a team.
Mr. Crabbe: Well, what about when somebody doesn’t want to do things the way you want them to?
Leader: Well, we are not always going to agree. But, when we disagree, we should try our best to talk it out nicely and see if we can’t find a compromise. Nothing hurts God more than when His people treat each other mean and work against each other.
Mr. Crabbe: You mean, like me saying I am not going to talk to my aunt anymore?
Leader: That’s exactly right. Instead, you should try to figure out a way you can work together with your aunt and find a color you both like.
Mr. Crabbe: That’s a good idea. I know we both like blue. Maybe we could do the carpet blue.
Leader: Now, you’re talking. Instead of fighting, we should work together. That’s what a team does. We are a team working together to do God’s work!
Mr. Crabbe: Well, I think I’ll go talk to my aunt and see if we can’t work together and choose blue. After all, we both love God. I think we would hate to break God’s heart by fighting.
Leader: That’s great! We’ll see you later, Mr. Crabbe.
Mr. Crabbe: Bye bye! Everybody!
Leader: Well, Mr. Crabbe learned a lesson I think we all should learn. We have a huge job to do. We are supposed to show God’s love to the world! We can’t do it all by ourselves. We have to learn how to DEAL WITH our conflict the Bible way!
Since we are talking about learning how to DEAL WITH conflict so we can work together for God, we are going to work together in this game. Let’s play “We CAN Work Together!
Choose two kids from each team to compete in the game. Choose a point in the room to place the two chairs, equal distance from the starting point. The two kids from each team will pair up. Both pairs will race against each other, placing one can between their heads (forehead to can, not touching the can with their hands at all) and walking together from the starting point to the chair, around the chair, and back to the starting point. The first pair to work together as a team and make it back to the starting point will be the winners!
In preparation read through the events of Acts 15:35-41
One day, Paul and Barnabas were discussing their future plans. Paul said to Barnabas, “Hey, why don’t we go on a trip to visit all of the churches we have taught about Jesus? We can go from city to city checking up on how the churches are doing.” Barnabas thought that was an awesome idea. He suggested they bring along his cousin, John Mark.
Paul did not want John Mark to come along at all. You see, John Mark had been on one of their missionary trips before and had not stuck it out. He ended up quitting and going home early. Paul was afraid he was going to do this again, so he told Barnabas that John Mark needed to stay home.
But, Barnabas really thought John Mark should come along. Paul didn’t. Barnabas did. But, Paul didn’t. As you can see, they are definitely having a conflict. So, how do they deal with it? Let’s see what the Bible says. “37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. 39 Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord's grace. 41 So they traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there.”
Well, there you have it...the plan for how to DEAL WITH conflict. Did you notice it? (probably they didn’t) Just in case you missed it, I want to teach it to you step by step. Here is how to have a GOOD church fight. 1. Focus On What Is Most Important
A lot of times when we have conflicts with people we start to argue over the silliest things. We argue over what game we should play or who is the captain of the team. This conflict between Paul and Barnabas was over whether or not to take John Mark on the missionary journey. It was an important issue because if John Mark were to go and then bail on them again, things could really be bad for Paul and Barnabas.
Notice Paul and Barnabas didn’t argue over what song to sing in church when they got there or what color shoes to wear on the journey. They focused on what was most important and didn’t get distracted by arguing over small stuff. That’s the first step in how to DEAL WITH conflict. The second is: 2. Don’t Involve Others
One thing Paul and Barnabas did not do is bring a bunch of other people into their argument. Paul could have gone and got some of the people from church and said, “Can you believe what Barnabas wants to do?” Barnabas could have gotten some other Christians and said, “Paul is so mean. He won’t take John Mark on the trip.” But, did they do that? No! They simply talked to each other. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even get John Mark involved in it. They discussed it just between the two of them.
Sadly, many people get others involved in their arguments. They try to “gang up” on the other person by getting other people to agree with their side of things. That is not what God wants us to do. He wants us to only keep it between the two people who are having the conflict. There is no reason to bring others into it. That only makes more people get into conflict. And that NEVER is good for God’s family. The third step in DEALING WITH CONFLICT IS:
Often, when we are in a conflict with someone and we start to lose the argument, we start bringing up a bunch of other things that don’t even matter. We might start bringing up something the other person did a long time ago or even things other people have said. Paul and Barnabas did not discuss anything else...only the facts. They stuck to the matter at hand. You and I should do the same thing.
If we are ever confused as to how we should handle something, God’s Word is the place to start. Our Power Verse today says, “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing.” That’s what Paul and Barnabas did. They didn’t fight and yell and scream and complain. They talked about their disagreement. They followed what the Bible had to say about how to DEAL WITH CONFLICT.
Finally, after talking and discussing their conflict, Paul and Barnabas didn’t get angry at each other. They didn’t hate each other. They did what we need to do when we can’t agree on something:
Paul and Barnabas dedicated their trips to God, separated, and went separate ways. We NEVER hear them talk bad about each other. They even praised each others’ work in other parts of the Bible later on. They prayed, chose to agree to disagree, and moved on. Now, THAT is how to deal with conflict the BIBLE way.
(Play soft music).There may be children present who are in the middle of a conflict at home or at school. They may have been handling it all wrong, but realize now they need to deal with it the right way. There may even be children in the room that are in conflict with each other. Allow them to reconcile and make a decision to handle conflict the right way in the future. Pray that God would help them to get along.
What was today’s Big Idea? Answer: If Eye To Eye You Can’t See, You’ve Gotta Choose To Agree To Disagree!
Who was Mr. Crabbe angry with? Answer: His aunt
What color did his aunt want to make the carpet? Answer: Green
What were the names of the two men in the Bible story? Paul and ________ Answer: Barnabas
John Mark was Barnabas’ _______________. Answer: Cousin
Did Paul want John Mark to go on the trip? Answer: No
Why not? Answer: John Mark had left them on the last trip
According to our lesson, should we involve other people in our conflict? Answer: No
If we can’t agree on something we should agree to _______________. Answer: Disagree
Where was our Power Verse found? Answer: Philippians 2:14