Friday, July 09, 2010

Dealing with conflict in the church (Mennonite guidelines)

Found this in Shane Hipps' 'Flickering Pixels' - great book, review coming prob over the weekend.

Agreeing and disagreeing in love -
Commitments for Mennonites in Times of Disagreement

"making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph 4.3), as both individual members and the body of Christ we pledge that we shall:

In thought
- Accept conflict - acknowledge together that conflict is a normal part of our life in the church (Rom 14.1-8, 10-12, 17-19; 15.1-7)
- Affirm hope - affirm that as God walks with us in conflict, we can work through to growth (Eph 4.15-16)
- Commit to prayer - admit our needs and commit ourselves to pray for a mutually satisfactory solution (no prayers for my success or for the other to change but to find a joint way) (James 5.16)

In action
- Go to the other... - go directly to those with whom we disagree; avoid behind-the-back criticism (Matt 5.23-24; 18.15-20) the spirit of humility - go in gentleness, patience and humility. Place the problem between us at neither doorstep and own our part in the conflict instead of pointing out others' faults (gal 6.1-5)
- Be quick to listen - listen carefully, summarize, and check out what is heard before responding. Seek as much to understand as to be understood (James 1.19, Prov 18.13)
- Be slow to judge - suspend judgements, avoid labeling, end name-calling, discard threats, and act in a non-defensive, non-reactive way (Rom 2.1-4, Gal 5.22-26)
- Be willing to negotiate - work through the disagreements constructively, celebrate small agreements along the way, cooperate with the emerging agreement (Acts 15, Phil 2.1-11)

In Life
- Be steadfast in love - be firm in our commitment to seek a mutual solution; be stubborn in holding to our common foundation in Christ; be steadfast in love (Col 3.12-15)
- Be open to mediation - be open to accept skilled help. If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves, we will use those with gifts and training in mediation in the larger church (Phil 4.1-3)
- Trust the community - we trust the community, and if we cannot reach agreement or experience reconciliation, we will turn the decision over to others in the congregation or from the broader church (Acts 15)
- Be the body of Christ - believe in and rely on the solidarity of the body of Christ and its commitment to peace and justice, rather than resort to the courts of law (1 Cor 6.1-6)


Amazing stuff.

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