Main Point of Discussion: Our relationships are incredibly powerful forces that can change our lives in permanent ways, so we must be very careful about guarding our hearts.
The Song: “Russian Roulette” by Rihanna
“Russian Roulette” is a song performed by Barbadian singer Rihanna. Written and produced by Ne-Yo and Chuck Harmony the song serves as the lead single from Rihanna's fourth studio album Rated R.
The lyrics metaphorically refer to the game of love in which you take chances and anyone can get hurt. In an interview with Fuse, Rihanna called the song “poetry” and not literally about a (potentially lethal) game that goes by the same name (Russian Roulette).
To date, the single has sold over 3 million digital downloads and has charted within the Top Ten in most international markets including the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and others.
At The Source for Youth Ministry, we firmly believe we can teach students about God and His love for them by using secular music like this song by Rihanna without endorsing the music to teenagers. (This practice dates back to the days of the Apostle Paul; see Acts 17.)
Introducing the Music Video:
While passing out a copy of the song’s lyrics, say, “Rihanna obviously has a well-publicized and rocky past in terms of her relationship with Chris Brown. This has led to the belief that “Russian Roulette” must be about those events, and Rihanna has stated publically that, ‘It's not a literal song but love is a terrifying game. You want to be open and honest but you don't want to end up broken-hearted. Ne-Yo sat down with me and we talked for a long time about all the stuff I've been through this year and he came up with the idea of Russian Roulette, which fit perfectly.’”
Play the song and ask the students to read along with the lyrics.
Take a breath, take it deep
Calm yourself, he says to me
If you play, you play for keeps
Take a gun, and count to three
I’m sweating now, moving slow
No time to think, my turn to go
And you can see my heart beating
You can see it through my chest
And I’m terrified but I’m not leaving
Know that I must must pass this test
So just pull the trigger
Say a prayer to yourself
He says close your eyes
Sometimes it helps
And then I get a scary thought
That he’s here means he’s never lost
As my life flashes before my eyes
I’m wondering will I ever see another sunrise?
So many won’t get the chance to say goodbye
But it’s too late to pick up the value of my life
This song, as Rihanna mentioned, is not a literal reference to the game of Russian Roulette, rather it’s a metaphor for relationships and how some of them can feel at times. Tonight we’re going to talk about those types of situations and how we can protect ourselves from feeling like we’re in a deadly game.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we dive in, everybody take a turn and tell us what some of your favorite games to play are?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever played any dangerous games? If so, what were they?
- ASK A FEW: Do you know what “Russian Roulette” is? (Leaders – Explain that the infamous game is played by chambering one bullet into a revolver, giving it a spin, sticking it to your head, and pulling the trigger. If you live, you pass the gun to your competitor who then repeats the dangerous steps.)
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think people would even consider playing Russian Roulette?
- ASK A FEW: How are relationships sometimes like this dangerous game?
- ASK A FEW: Why doesn’t she (in the song) just walk away from the relationship that is obviously bad for her?
- ASK A FEW: Why don’t we?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
(2 Corinthians 6:14-18, NLT)
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the LORD Almighty.”
We’ve talked tonight about the danger of tight relationships with people who don’t share our spiritual commitment to Christ, and also how we should always be on the lookout for signs of depression and suicidal thoughts in ourselves and our friends. Let’s close with an application exercise that will help us in the future.
Pass out paper and pens to the students and ask them to write a response letter to Rihanna based on what she wrote in “Russian Roulette.” (In other words, if they were her friend, what would they say to her?) After they have completed the letters, ask if anyone is willing to share.
Close in Prayer
By Lane Palmer
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.