Dealing with conflict and anger is real for all of us-Christians as much as anyone else. What can we learn from the Bible about dealing with conflict? What did Jesus do? How can we talk about that with our youth?
This self-scoring questionnaire is a tool for you to use with youth (in small or large groups) as you begin to explore the many ways to deal with conflicts in light of our Christian faith. Some resources with Biblical material are listed below. You could use the questionnaire along with activities from these sources, or use it in a session as outlined below.
A 45-60 min. session could go like this: (Things you could say are in italics.)
|(5 min)||Conflict - when people disagree and it is a problem for at least one of them. Ask for examples of conflicts. Talk about anger and conflict, looking at Ephesians 4:26 and events in Jesus' life. (Anger and conflict are OK, but not everything we do when angry or in conflict is OK.) Discuss what might be "sinful" responses and some that don't lead to sin... Even without sinning, we can end up with a lot of ways to respond when we get into conflicts. We each feel comfortable with different responses. Some ways are more helpful in certain situations than others. Today you're going to learn something about ways you each respond to conflict, and when those ways are more helpful and when not.
|(20 min)||Hand out questionnaires and ask them to read the example. Emphasize this is not a test with right and wrong answers. It will help them learn about themselves. Talk through the first question. Point out two-part questions (Q. 7&8 // Q.7&8, 11&12 // Q. 8&9, 10&11, 14&15). They are only to mark an answer for one of the second questions (depending on which answer they chose in the first question). Be available to help as needed. Ask them to let you know when they are ready to score it.
|(10 min)||For the scoring, they are to put a "1" on the score sheet on the line of the answer they chose. Where indicated (Q. 5a. // Q. 5.a.&12.c. // Q. 6.a. & 15.c.) put a "1/2" on two lines. Have them add up their totals and see if they think this describes them in conflicts. Look over the usefulness of each approach. Talk about when each approach might not be as helpful to use.
|(5 min)||Give them each an Animal reminder sheet. Go over strengths and weaknesses of each approach. It turns out that we usually have lots of options of things to do in conflict, and often we get stuck just using one or two.
|(10 min)||Brainstorming exercise. Give everyone a paper and pencil. I'm going to read a situation to you. You will have 2 minutes to write down as many things (good, bad, or silly) as you can think to do. Then you will get 15 more seconds to check off the 3 responses you think might be most helpful to everybody.
|(10 min)||Word Search. Hand out "Many Ways to Respond to Conflict." They could work alone or in groups to find as many words as they can, and then answer question #1 at the bottom. Discuss what ways Jesus used, and what ways seemed to work well in different situations.|
Helpful resources dealing with conflict/violence from a Biblical perspective for youth.
Possible to use with grades:
|5-8||Living Without Violence by Jody Miller Shearer (Fast Lane Bible Studies for Junior High, Newton, KS: Faith & Life Press, 1994, 316-283-5100). 5 sessions with a variety of activities on each theme. Chapters: "Nonviolently Angry," "Know Your Options," and "Me and My Enemy" particularly relate to responses to conflict. Includes reproducible student sheets.|
|5-12||Youth in Peacemaking by Vera K. White (Office for Peace Education, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), n.d. To order: call Distribution Management Service PC (USA), 800-524-2612, DMS# 259-92-917, or ELCA Distribution Service, 800-328-4648, Code 69-9946). Chapters include "Conflict Management," "How Do Christians Handle the Bully?" and "Family Violence."|
|8-12||It's Just Peacemaking: Workshop Manual for Adult Leaders of High School Youth by John Stoner, Jeff Quay, and Della Stanley-Green (Akron, PA: NCP, 1994, 717-859-1958). Two sessions (about 2 hours each) -- The first on responses to conflict in families and at school, and the second on issues of war and peace. Included are activities exploring styles of response to conflict and reasons for different styles, as well as Biblical role plays. The second session is designed to go along with segments from one of two videos (Anybody's Son Will Do or Doesn't Everyone Want Peace?).|
|9-12||Peace - Just Live It! by Christine Neufeld (Newton, KS: Faith & Life Press, 1994, 800-743-2484). 10 sessions with reproducible student sheets. Upbeat approach with attractive format. Chapters include: peace in the Bible, gender issues, family violence, racism, the media's influence, lifestyle choices.|
||Issue is Important||
|Relationship is Not Important
||Relationship is Important|
||Issue is Not Important||
The first published mentions we found of the five approaches to managing conflict was in Robert Blake and J. S. Mouton, Building a Dynamic Corporation Through Grid Organization and Development, 1969. We also drew from Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, 1974. The first published mention we found of using animals for the five approaches was in Norman Shawchuck, How to Manage Conflict in the Church, 1983.