Conflict is a normal and necessary event in the life of a Christian congregation. In any healthy organization that is growing, there will be competing values and interests. Simple examples of things that people might disagree about are things like, “should extra church facilities be used for children’s ministry, an adult daycare, or some other kind of outreach to the community?” or, “should the church bus be used for transportation of youth on x date, or should that date be reserved for the senior trip?”
If a church is not experiencing conflict, that is not a good thing. It could mean that members are so apathetic that they are not engaged and do not care. Alternately, it could mean that there is such deep and painful conflict that people are trying to ignore it, “faking” a peace that is not authentic.
So, the issue is not whether a church will have conflict. Every vital church has conflict. The issue is, rather, how does your congregation handle conflict? Is conflict the catalyst for discussion, used in a positive way to encourage engagement and conversation about issues, or is it being experienced as divisive and unhealthy?
The conflict consultants of Just Mediation, LLC, aim to train church members and leaders in healthy ways of addressing the conflict that is inevitable in a vital organization. Training congregations in healthy conflict management systems imparts practical tools that enable the congregation to work together to reconcile competing interests, to rejuvenate and restore relationships with one another, and to be able to embrace the goal setting and dialogue that comes with healthy growth and change.
In situations where conflict in a church is already volatile or toxic, and especially in cases where the congregation is experiencing division and alienation from one another, the mediators of Just Mediation, LLC, offer immediate help, through congregation-wide mediation. As part of such a mediation, we not only help the congregation address the immediate conflict and begin to heal. We will also help your congregation develop healthy, pro-active systems for addressing future conflict in positive ways.
The mediators of Just Mediation, LLC, are all deeply committed to conflict transformation within the church and to peacemaking. Our approach is firmly grounded in Christian principles of Conflict Transformation. The mediators of Just Mediation, LLC, combine (1) total commitment to Christian peacemaking theory and practice with (2) training in leading principles and practices in conflict transformation, (4) extensive practical experience as mediators and trainers in conflict transformation, and (5) specific training in mediation of congregation-wide disputes from the internationally recognized Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.
If your church desires a consultation, we are here to help. We will meet with your leadership, make an assessment, and propose a course of action for addressing the conflict and beginning the healing process.
Additionally, even for churches that are not experiencing any distress from conflict, we are available to conduct one day or weekend workshops for congregations on the topic of Christian conflict resolution in theory and practice. This practical workshop is designed to strengthen your church by increasing skill of your congregation in responding to conflict, enabling conflict to be used for good purposes rather than causing distress.
Conflict also creates life: through conflict we respond, innovate, and change. Conflict can be understood as the motor of change, that which keeps relationships and social structures honest, alive, and dynamically responsive to human needs, aspirations, and growth.
(Lederach, The Little Book of Conflict Transformation)