Churches and staff are encouraged to call when minor problems and misunderstandings occur. Many times these concerns can be resolved with telephone consultations or a single visit with staff or the church representatives. Every effort should be made to resolve the issue as quickly as possible before it spreads to the church body.
The minister or official church representative should contact the director. The mediation process is explained briefly by telephone. If the church wishes to proceed further, the following steps are taken.
- A list of possible mediators is provided to the church to choose one best suited for their needs.
- The mediator meets with the church group (usually deacon body) to explain the mediation process. This is not a commitment to proceed, only to provide information. Note – When the conflict is primarily between the deacons and the pastor, it can possibly be resolved with several sessions with this group without involving the church. The resolution plan should be communicated to the church.
- The deacons recommend the mediation plan to the church at a regular or called business meeting. A time can be scheduled for the mediator to explain the process to the whole church, and an official vote is taken to enter into mediation.
- A schedule is developed that involves mailing questionnaires to the church members, small group meetings of the congregation with the mediator, as well as meetings with the deacons, church council, pastor and staff. These meetings are usually on Saturday.
- The mediator returns to the church two or three weeks later for a second meeting with the groups. Results of the questionnaire and compiled information of the small group meetings are given, along with the recommendations. A worship service is planned the next afternoon (Sunday) for further analysis, encouragement, and a consensus vote by the church to adopt the recommendations of the mediator.
The mediation plan is put into operation, and the mediator monitors progress.
- Elizabeth Lindigrin, Ministry Assistant