Lesson 6: 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 friendships?” This is not an easy question to answer. Peter faced a difficult decision. There were some church leaders who had some very different opinions that he did. He needed to make sure he handled it in the right way. Not “man’s” way, but the “Bible” way. In this story there is a great pattern for how to solve conflict biblically. This is what the children will learn how to do in today’s lesson.
Chuck: (Chuck runs in doing karate moves, today he is wearing boxing gloves)
Leader: Hey there Chuck!
Chuck: (Chuck flips out aims a flurry of karate moves towards the Leader)
Leader: WHOAH! Chuck, settle down! Are you ok?
Chuck: Oh…sorry…sorry…I thought you were somebody else.
Leader: Somebody else?? Who did you think I was?
Chuck: Well…there’s this person I go to church with…
Leader: Why would you freak out if you saw someone you went to church with?
Chuck: You’d freak out too if you thought you were about to get a black eye.
Leader: A black eye?
Chuck: Or a noogie.
Leader: A noogie?
Chuck: OOH! Or an atomic wedgie! Those are bad.
Leader: Chuck, you’re confusing EVERYBODY! What are you talking about?
Chuck: Would you stop interrupting so I can tell you? There’s this old lady that’s after me!
Leader: (laughs) Chuck, you’re afraid of an old lady?
Chuck: DON’T LAUGH! She’s a crafty one! Last Wednesday I went to church with my grandma, and one of her friends took one look at me and started yelling! (does an old lady voice) “Back in MY day we didn’t let boys cut their hair like that! You should be ASHAMED!” (goes back to normal) That’s when Grandma said we was about to have a church fight! I didn’t want to punch an old lady, so I ran! Now, I’m afraid she’s gonna come after me!
Leader: Chuck, today is your lucky day.
Chuck: Why, did she break a hip?
Leader: NO! Today we’re talking about how to have a “good church fight!”
Chuck: WHOAH! Now HOLD ON just a second! I am a Kung Fu master! My hands are deadly weapons! But, I will NOT fight in a church! It’d be chaos! Big flowery hats flying everywhere! Sumo wrestling in the baptistery! Using offering change as TINY NINJA STARS! NO WAY! I won’t do it!
Leader: Noooo! Chuck, I don’t mean THAT kind of fight! I’m talking about how sometimes people disagree, even in church! Instead of arguing and fighting, the Bible says there is a Godly way to solve your problems! It’s something we all have to learn! Even PETER had to learn that!
Leader: Yes! He had to help a whole group of church Leaders solve a HUGE disagreement. It wasn’t easy, but God helped him do it the RIGHT way!
Chuck: Whoah…that’s a lot of stuff to learn! Who were the people who were fighting? What were they fighting about? I wanna know! I wanna know!
Leader: I can’t give away too much because the kids are going to learn all about this a little later. Do you think you can hang out backstage and listen?
Chuck: I definitely can! (pauses) There’s not an angry old lady backstage, is there?
Leader: I’m pretty sure you’re safe.
Chuck: OK! I’ll see you later boys and girls! I’M CHUCK FOO! KICK IT!!!!!
Since we are talking about learning how to handle conflict, 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!
Have you ever had a disagreement with someone? Maybe it was your brother or sister or someone at school. It might even have been someone at church. Probably ALL of us have had a time when we were in a conflict with someone. It’s almost impossible to live around other people and NOT have conflict—even in church. After all, we are all so different.
So, when you have a conflict with someone, what should you do? (pull out the boxing gloves and put them on, pretending like you are punching someone) Should you punch their lights out? After all, they shouldn’t have disagreed with you. You’re gonna knock them out! No. Even though there may be a part of us that thinks we would feel better by punching them, that is NOT the way the Bible teaches us to handle conflict.
So, if we don’t punch them out what should we do? (pull out the cell phone) Should we call a bunch of other people and talk bad about the person? (pretend to call someone and talk) “Oh, I know it Sis. Sue. Can you believe what they did? They are a sorry no good trouble-maker!” No, even though we may think that we can settle the disagreement by bad-mouthing the other person, that is NOT what the Bible teaches us about how to handle conflicts.
So, what DO you do when you have a conflict with someone in church? We are going to find out by looking at a very important situation involving Peter. He was involved in a BIG conflict. Remember when Peter went to Cornelius’ house and led him to Jesus? Cornelius wasn’t a Jew. This was one of the first time we hear of someone other than a Jewish person accepting Jesus as their Savior. It was amazing! A BIG day for the church.
There were some church leaders who were very upset with this. They began to preach, “Unless you follow the customs of Moses, you cannot be saved.” There were some specific customs that they wanted everyone to follow. The problem was, they were saying that you couldn’t even be a Christian if you didn’t follow these customs. There’s only one problem—that’s not the plan that God gave them. That is the plan that they made up for themselves.
So, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas were sent to settle the dispute between Peter and these church leaders. This brings us to the first lesson we can learn...
Paul and Barnabas (and Peter, for that matter) were willing to have this disagreement because it was about something that was VERY important—salvation. Too often, people have fights over nonimportant things. We should not argue over opinions and ideas. If we are going to have conflict, it should be over the things that REALLY are most important. Peter knew that he couldn’t allow these other church leaders to claim there was another way to be saved. He had to stand for what was right.
So, Paul and Barnabas are sent to travel and settle this conflict. The Bible says they traveled through several cities and spoke to the churches there about how God was saving non-Jews in Jerusalem. This made the churches very happy. Now, do you notice something? They didn’t go through those towns talking about the conflict that was going on. They didn’t involve all those people in this argument.
Paul could have gone and got some of the people from church and said, “Can you believe what those church leaders want to do?” Barnabas could have gotten some other Christians and said, “Peter is being attacked by these other leaders. It isn’t fair.” But, did they do that? No! They simply told them the good things going on. They didn’t involve people who didn’t belong in the conflict.
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 is NEVER good for God’s family. The third step in a “good church fight” is:
Paul and Barnabas got to Jerusalem and called a meeting with Peter and the others.
Peter shared what the issue was. Peter didn’t go on and on about how mean these guys were. Instead, he quickly and simply laid out what the issue was. He said, “These men want to force the non-Jewish men who have accepted Christ to follow the customs of the Jews. I say that God saved us ALL by His grace, not by keeping the Jewish customs.” Simple as that.
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. Peter did not discuss anything else...only the facts. He stuck to the matter at hand. You and I should do the same thing.
After Peter spoke, another apostle named James got up and spoke. He said, “The prophets seem to agree with Peter. In the scripture it says…” Do you see what he is doing here? He is going to the most trusted source for truth: God’s Word.
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 we should follow because that’s what God’s word tells us to do.
So, James says, “It is my judgement that we should not make it hard for these non-Jewish people to come to Christ.” Then, the people prayed about it. They ended up saying, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us that we should not burden these men with all of these requirements.” You know what that means? They prayed about it, and made a decision. Pretty cool.
Then, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas all went on ahead with their missionary journeys. They didn’t spend any more time arguing. They moved on. Once we have handled the conflict, we must…
We should follow the example of Peter. Pray about it, then drop it. Move on. Don’t bring it up again. That’s how to have a “good church fight.”
(play soft music) Pray for those who are in the middle of a conflict. They may have been handling it all wrong, but realize now they need to handle it the right way. There may even be children in the room that are in conflict with each other. Allow them to reconcile, pray, and move on.
What was today’s Big Idea?
- Answer: “I Gotta Handle Disagreements The Bible Way!”
Who was Chuck Foo’s argument with?
- Answer: an old lady in his grandma’s church
Who was sent to handle the disagreement between Peter and the other leaders?
- Answer: Paul and Barnabas
Did Paul and Barnabas tell the other churches about the disagreement?
- Answer: no
According to our lesson today, when we find ourselves in a conflict we should “Focus On What’s Most _________.”
- Answer: Important
According to our lesson today, when we find ourselves in a conflict we should “Don’t Involve _________.”
- Answer: Others
According to our lesson today, when we find ourselves in a conflict we should “Stick To The _________,”
- Answer: Facts
According to our lesson today, when we find ourselves in a conflict we should, “Use _______ _______ As A Guide.”
- Answer: God’s Word
According to our lesson today, when we find ourselves in a conflict we should, “________ And Move On.”
- Answer: Pray
Where was our Power Verse found?
- Answer: Philippians 2:14