Wow! We have got a lot going on in the world right now – Bin Laden is dead, Tornadoes have devastated the South, and the Mississippi is so full that other rivers are running backwards!  I guess the world always has a lot going on earthquakes, hunger, and war; and right now I am paying more attention because its personal.
When things like natural disasters, death, and war come close, I find myself grappling with huge theological issues like Just War, praying for my enemies, and God’s sovereignty .  And I know that if I’m thinking about them and struggling to answer the many questions, youth whose faith is still growing and forming are struggling too.
Should we talk about these things with our youth groups? I believe so.  Where is God and God’s will in these situations is important theological dialogue for our young people.
But how?  How do we talk about such big issues that cause so much emotion and division?  Can we talk about them if we don’t know all the answers?
We are all on a journey and this situations and experiences allow us to explore, challenge, and grow in our theology (our knowledge of God).
Here is short lesson that could be used to explore Bin Laden’s death.  If this approach is not your theological slant, I’ve listed some other ideas at the bottom that I’ve heard this week from others.

Thinking Out Loud

Objective:  To have youth explore our Christian understanding and response to Bin Laden’s death, natural disasters, or other difficult issues.
Theme: Learning on the Journey
Scriptures: Matthew 5:43-48, Proverbs 24:17

Opening Activity:  What have you heard?

Our goal with this lesson is to get them to think out loud.  With your group or in small groups have students share and talk about the following questions:

  • What has the conversation at school been like?
  • What have your teachers said?  Have you discussed it?
  • How did you feel when you heard Bin Laden?

Note: Before beginning this discussion, frame the conversation by saying that we are “talking out loud” to help each other think and process as we grow together.  Let them know that we are not talking about this to argue with each other, but instead to “think” together.  We are all coming to this conversation from different places and all of our experiences are valid.

Looking to Scripture:

Begin by reading Proverbs 24:17.
Discuss how this makes you feel?
Read Matthew 5:43-48.

Thinking Out Loud Together:

What is our American response to Bin Laden’s death?
What should our Christian response be to Bin Laden’s death?
How are they different?  As American Christians is our response different than non-American Christians?
What cause you to rejoice in his death?  What causes you to mourn?  How have you been led to pray because of his death?
What other scriptures speak into how we should respond as Christians?

Journeying Together:

Create a time of prayer.
Option 1: You could create a wailing wall.  Cover the wall with large pieces of paper and let students write their concerns for the world on it with markers.  Close with everyone laying their hands on the wall and praying for the concerns.
Option 2: Praying for our enemies.  Have a popcorn prayer inviting students to lift up prayers for our enemies, for peace, and for ourselves as we respond to our enemies.
I realize this is a short lesson, but with it being such a hot topic getting them to “think out loud” will not be difficult.  If you want other options for thinking out loud about Bin Laden, here are some thought provokers that I’ve heard from others this week:

  • Judge Not, Less You be Judged – To celebrate, to not celebrate?  How would you feel if you were … someone who lost a love one in 9/11, in the war, a Muslim, a Muslim American, someone in another country looking at how the US has been portrayed this week.
  • Paul was a Terrorist – Saul killed Christians and terrorized Christians before his experience.  What if Christians had killed him?
  • What does God think about war? Take a look at Just War
  • God is not a White Man by Gungor’s video would provide some theological thoughts worth exploring in this area.
  • Bin Laden and Bonhoeffer – check out ymtoday’s most viewed article of all time on this topic