Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read today is from the Book of James, and it talks about how to have peace while living in a world filled with conflict. The opening activity gets students competing against one another in an epic rock, paper, scissors battle. The discussion encourages students to unpack the conflict in their lives and see how James encourages us to be t peace with ourselves and others. The activity allows youth to see conflict as an everyday part of life. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Rock, Paper, Scissors Olympics (10 minutes)
In this game, students will compete to see who will win the “Rock, Paper, Scissors Olympics.” Ask everyone to find a partner (socially distanced) and get ready to play. Count to three and ask students to pick one of the following: rock, paper, or scissors. Rock beats scissors; scissors beats paper; and paper beats rock. The student that lost now takes a seat and waits. Winners will continue to play until there are only two students left. The final round will consist of best out of three. Celebrate the winners and play again, if time allows. If playing online, you can assign pairs and play elimination-style the same way.
After the game, ask the following questions:
- What do you like and/or dislike about this game?
- How many of you get frustrated when you lose?
- What do you do when you get frustrated?
- Did anyone try to use something besides a rock, paper, or scissors?
- What is the best strategy to win this game?
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today talks about peace and how we can establish peace in our lives. While we read the scripture, try to listen for the questions James ask toward the end of our reading.
Read James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- How does James 3:13-16 differentiate types of wisdom? What suggestions does this section give us, along with verses 17 and 18, about how to interact with others?
- Where does it say anger and conflict come from— in verse 15? In your personal experience, where do anger and conflict come from?
- Do you prefer to avoid conflict or attract it? Why?
- What causes a lot of conflict in your life? Situations? People?
- What are some good ways to handle conflict? What are some not-so-good ways to handle conflict?
- Is it possible to have good conflict? Explain your reasoning.
- What does it mean to “submit yourselves to God” (James 4:7?) And how is that the same as or different from the phrase “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” in James 4:8?
- How can we draw closer to God this week? Make a list on a board or piece of paper and ask students to commit to one way of drawing closer to God this week.
Transition by saying that “Jesus wants us to define peace as a presence. Peace is not what we’ve emptied from ourselves, but what we’ve filled ourselves with.”
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
“Conflict will arise!” We live in a broken world where conflict is always present. Through this short exercise, we’ll see just how easily conflict can arise. Ask students to answer the following questions honestly. They shouldn’t answer the question the way they think everyone else will answer, but the way they would if they were alone.
- What is better? Fruit or ice cream? New Testament or Old Testament? Getting up early or sleeping in? Xbox or PlayStation? Cars or trucks? iPhone or Android? Basketball or football?
- What is easier? Math or science? Reading or writing? Drawing or painting?
- What is cooler? Champion or Under Armour? Rap or country? Mask or face shield? Shoes or sandals? Beach vacation or mountain vacation?
- Who is more fun? Moms or dads? New friends or older friends? Coaches or teachers? Youth pastor or children’s pastor? School cafeteria workers or school janitors?
- Which is harder? Language arts or social studies? Monopoly or Clue? Making a three pointer or a free throw? Making breakfast or dinner? Going up or down a ladder?
After each question, take a quick minute to ask students to defend their answers. Remind them that there is no right or wrong answer. This is simply an activity to show that we have differences of opinions on things, and sometimes those differences can cause conflict.
After you’ve had some time with this activity, ask the following questions:
- Is there someone or something that you regularly find yourself in conflict with?
- Some of our conflict can be simply a difference of opinion. When this is the case, how should we handle this type of conflict?
- What does today’s scripture tell us about how we should handle conflict? (Re-read James 4:7-8a.)
- How can we better handle conflict this week when it arises? Make a list on a sheet of paper or whiteboard.
Encourage students to read and re-read James 4:7-8a this week!
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Pens or pencils
- Whiteboard or posterboard