For Youth Workers Post


Craig Mitchell

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for December 23–31, 2013.


“You can’t turn on the news without seeing our world at war. Every community has members who have served or are currently serving in defense forces. In our local suburbs, there is often unexplained violence. Violence within families is an ugly truth. What does being a Christian in such a world mean? My beliefs and values were challenged by studying Christian attitudes toward peace and by coming to know a family of Mennonites in Pennsylvania. I’ve asked how the person of Jesus Christ speaks to questions of war and peace. Is he an impossible ideal or an example to follow? At the heart of this lesson are vital questions for the faith of young people.” —Craig



devozine Craig Mitchell2

Craig Mitchell
studied Christian Ethics at Duke University with Stanley Hauerwas. He is a veteran youth minister who teaches at the Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University in South Australia. Visit Craig’s blog for a variety of resources for youth ministry.




  • signs with the following words written in large print: “1. family,” “2. friends,” “3. school,” “4. sports,” “5. church,” “6. neighborhood”
  • one or preferably two computers or tablets connected to the Internet or some people who are willing to use their cell phones
  • Bibles
  • a candle and matches
  • a large-size printout of Colossians 3:12–17
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session



+ Archbishop Desmond Tutu talks about the meaning of ubuntu
     > “Ubuntu: A Brief Description
     > Who we are: Human uniqueness and the African spirit of Ubuntu

+ United Nations resources for “Peace and Security

Twelve Skills of Conflict Resolution from the Conflict Resolution Network

+ “Pace e Bene” is an international network of training for nonviolence.

+ Conflict Resolution on YouTube
     > Healthy Conflict Resolution
     > Katz Interpersonal Skills: Conflict Resolution with Sesame Street



Invite each person, in turn, to complete the following sentences. You start, raising your voice with each round; others will follow suit.

       I feel irritable when . . . (for example, I stub my toe)
       I feel upset when . . . (for example, there’s no hot water for the shower)
       I feel annoyed when . . . (for example, someone borrows something without asking)
       I feel angry when . . . (for example, someone is rude to me)
       I feel absolutely furious when . . . (for example, I hear about violence toward children)

       When and why were you angry during the week?
       How did you deal with it?



Invite the group to watch Robin Williams, on Sesame Street, explaining conflict.

Place the six large signs on the floor in a circle so that numbers 1 to 6 are in sequence. Assign each person a number and ask him or her to stand beside the sign with the same number. Be sure at least two people are standing beside each sign. Give each person one minute to answer the following questions (without going into detail):
       Have you recently experienced conflict here (in the family, among friends, whatever the category on the sign by which the person is standing)?
       How did you feel at the time?
       How do you feel about the conflict now?

Watch the video “Conflict Resolution—Thinking It Through.”

Invite the group to discuss these questions:
       How do you usually react in a conflict?
       Do you find yourself in conflicts that keep happening again and again?
       What tips did you learn from the video?

Ask people to form small groups. If you have Internet access, ask members of each group to enter the word peace at to search for scriptures including this word.

The aim is to search the following books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Depending on how many electronic devices you have available, divide the search among the participants. Ask them to take note of the verses listed and to look some of them up in the Bible. If you don’t have Internet access, do an Internet search prior to the session and print out the Bible references.

Ask people to choose some of the verses that seem to offer helpful advice for resolving conflicts.
       In what ways was Jesus or Paul a peacemaker in the ways they treated other people?
       Is this verse about our attitudes or our actions or both? In order for you to resolve conflicts better, which of these—attitudes, actions, or both—most needs to change in your life?
       Is this verse about what we do or what God does or both?
       When it comes to peacemaking, what can you rely on from God?

Because we all live in relationship with others, we always experience disagreements and differences, conflicts, even bullying and violence. To make peace is not necessarily to allow others to be cruel to us. Turning the other cheek may mean deciding that a conflict isn’t a big deal or responding to anger with gentleness. But if we are being treated badly, we owe it to ourselves to seek support and to put an end to the situation. Often people feel powerless and stay silent. We can be peacemakers by supporting those who are being hurt, by listening, praying, or acting. Peacemaking is active, not passive.



The African word ubuntu refers to the quality of seeing our lives as bound up with the lives of other people and treating them as people of worth, as we would wish to be treated. “I am because you are. I am because we are.”

Invite people to be still and to be aware of the presence of God. Light the candle.

Say: “Christ is present among us. The Spirit binds us together in community.”

Blow out the candle.

Say: “Yet too easily community is broken. Relationships are torn. God seems absent. Let us in silence say we are sorry for the times when we have hurt other people.”

Allow a brief silence.

Say: “God says to us that we are a forgiven people. Thanks be to God.”

Light the candle again.

Invite people to close their eyes. Ask them to bring to mind a situation of conflict in their own life or in the lives of others. Allow a few minutes of silence.

Read aloud and slowly Colossians 3:12–17.

Invite people to open their eyes. Ask them to read the text silently and to seek in it a word from God for them today. Allow a few minutes of silence.

Invite people to say aloud the word or verse that spoke to them and, if they wish, to name the person or situation for whom they seek prayer. Allow for a brief time of silent prayer after each person speaks.

Invite group members to say together Colossians 3:17.

Conclude the session with the video, “I Am Because You Are” (Ubuntu Song).



Conflict resolution skills can be learned, but it takes time and practice. The Conflict Resolution Skills Network is one source of learning.

—from devozine In the Habit (November/December 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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