Last week Cobblestone hosted a three-day Conflict Coaching and Mediation Training seminar at The Loft, a conference designed and presented by our friends at Peacemaker Ministries. I continue to be impressed and blessed by these folks and their hearts--and effective and Biblical strategies--for Biblical peacemaking and Christian conciliation.
Eight folks from Cobblestone--all four staff members and four others--joined others (from Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and elsewhere) in the training, which was intense. Thursday focused on Conflict Coaching, in which we learned aspects of effective conflict coaching, including gathering data, assigning homework, and applying Scripture to the heart. We learned to provide encouragement, godly advice, and prayer support to an individual who is struggling with a conflict. (Conflict coaching differs from mediation in that it usually involves interaction with only one of the parties or one side of the conflict, while mediation is working with both parties together, to improve communication and understanding so that the parties can arrive at a voluntary agreement).
Friday and Saturday focused on mediation training, which brings to life the principles and concepts learned in Conflict Coaching (counseling one party) and develops the skills and introduces the processes for reconciling two or more people who cannot resolve conflict on their own. We worked through detailed case studies and role-plays based on actual conciliation cases. While I absolutely hate role-play (and I'm not alone), I'm sure the training wouldn't have been nearly as effective without it.
With this training as a crucial first step, our hope now is to form a peacemaking team at Cobblestone, to meet regularly, improve our skills, and help those in and out of the church who find themselves in conflict....once we recover.
I can't more highly recommend this to every pastor, every church, every Christian organization. If you haven't experienced a Personal Peacemaking conference, register now for one...perhaps even invite Peacemaker Ministries to conduct one at your church. Their small group and leadership materials are tremendously beneficial, and have helped many in our church pursue peace instead of suffering from and creating conflict.