Churches, staff, and members will face times where there are disagreements and conflicts. When these problems occur, our Pastor/Leadership Development Department is available to try and mediate and seek resolution in these difficult moments. Churches and staff are invited to call and seek assistance when problems and misunderstandings occur. Many times these concerns can be addressed and helped with telephone consultations or visits with church staff or representatives. Every effort should be made to resolve divisive issues as quickly as possible before it impacts the ministry and focus of the church family.
For serious problems where in-depth conflict resolution is needed, the minister or church representatives should contact our office to seek mediation. The mediation process will be explained briefly by telephone, and 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 official church group (usually the 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, staff and ministers. These meetings are usually on a 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 discuss and adopt the recommendations of the mediator.
- The mediation plan is then put into operation, with the mediator monitoring the progress of the plan.