Community . . . God's Way
In the broadest sense of the word, “mediation” simply means any facilitated process by which conflicted parties voluntarily explore possible solutions together. “Mediators”, then, are simply professionals who have some level of expertise in helping those parties communicate and explore together. Just looking at the past few months in this ministry, I have been called upon to mediate in a variety of settings and circumstances.
The majority of mediations I handle involve church leaders or even entire congregations. These may be small conflicts, between two or three staff members or they may involved a wider scope, such as an entire deacon body or even an entire congregation. These “church conflicts” are most of what our ministry is called upon to do. But we do much more than that.
The reality is, when issues of faith are involved in the conflict, the mediation often requires a slightly different skill set than the typical secular mediation. More importantly, it requires prayer. Together. I believe this is why we are often called upon to help in a variety of other types of mediations (other than congregations).
I was recently called by a pastor who had two church members who had entered into a business transaction with each other and a dispute arose between them. Wanting to teach them the scriptural mandate of working out their differences BEFORE going to Court, he referred them to me for mediation.
I have been contacted by numerous Christian couples who were exploring divorce and looking for mediation. In some of those cases, through the course of several months of counseling, we were able to avoid divorce. In some cases, one or both parties were simply not interested in trying to work together to find a solution, in which case mediation would never work. And in a couple of cases, where attorneys were already involved, I have actually mediated some of the issues of the divorce (though that is never my preference).
I have been hired by family businesses who were experiencing interpersonal conflict within the family where there was a “faith element” involved. I spent several months last year working on such a conflict.
Later this year, I will mediate a dispute between Christian business partners who, rather than resolving their issues in the secular Courts, prefer to find a way to work together to find a way forward that honors the Lord.
Mediation, as you can see, can take a lot of different forms and can be used to resolve many different kinds of disputes and conflicts. But I have found that, when the parties are at least willing to get on their knees and pray together and genuinely hold their conflict before the Lord, meaningful resolutions are much more likely to follow.