INCREASING CONGREGATIONAL WELLNESS
How do we strengthen the relationships within our congregations, consistories, and classes?
The reality of living together is that we will get stuck in our relationships because conflict will arise. In these instances, we may likely be unable to move ahead in helpful ways or see a pathway forward. Knowing that conflict will come, it is best to train (and retrain) yourself to engage these moments in ways that are healthy and helpful to everyone.
Part of the role of the Congregational Wellness Team is to help create open space where everyone can discover the ability to:
- Encourage creativity and new ways of being
- Practice healthy communicating
- Build hope
- Find honesty, humility, and a sense of humor
- Playfully discover pathways forward
- Create and sustain generative tension
- Learn in community
Workshops or seminars can be developed and facilitated for you and other leaders on:
- Practicing Healthy Communication
- Understanding Family Systems Theory alongside Healthy Congregations
- Deepening Self-Awareness
- Developing Team Learning
A workshop or seminar is very often free of cost (depending on the format and length).
CONFLICT IN THE CHURCH
Many of us find it difficult to directly address conflict in a healthy manner. We may not be practiced in dealing effectively with conflicts and react with silence, gossip, bending established rules, or legislating new ones. We perceive “trouble in the church” as un-Christian and shameful. And yet, Jesus expected conflict and taught his disciples ways to constructively respond to and faithfully live within conflict. Our team can help!
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
- It is a voluntary process between two or more individuals or groups
- It is facilitating difficult conversations
- It is used to clarify intentions and discuss concerns by listening and speaking
- It is used to identify issues and come to a place of mutual agreement
- It is a process – a set of steps that assist people to communicate their concerns and interests more effectively and more accurately.
- Mediation is NOT offering judgment, arbitration, or therapy.
- Mediators do NOT decide the outcomes of the process; instead, they assist all sides to work toward a win/win solution through a healthy and faithful process.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEDIATION ARE WHEN…
- Facts are unknown or misread
- Ground rules (implicit or explicit) are breaking down
- One problem is triggering many others
- Communication is indirect & inaccurate
- Dialogue is failing
- Outcomes are unclear
In these instances, the Wellness Team is available to offer:
- One-to-one or group mediation
- Coaching or consultation on particular issues within classes and consistories
- Seminars on improving communications and decision-making processes
- Contract service to other synods, when requested and feasible
Mediators serve as catalysts and facilitators, who help conflicted parties listen and speak to one another in healthy ways. Sources of conflict are addressed in ways that improve and reconcile relationships. The skills that are learned can help individuals and groups more effectively deal with future potential conflicts.
- Read Matthew 18:15-20, Acts 6: 1-7, and Acts 15
- God intends for us to live in peace, including loving our enemies.
- God’s shalom starts with us.
- The issue is not if we have conflict; it is how we respond to it.
- Direct communication works better than triangulating.
- We draw on one another’s spiritual gifts.
- We join in the Spirit’s work in resolving our differences.
- We learn to listen deeply and speak purposefully.
- We strengthen our relationships by sharing our hurts wholeheartedly with each other.
ARRANGE FOR MEDIATION SERVICES
A request for mediation may originate from a pastor, elder(s), consistory, classis, Synod staff, or an appropriate judicatory committee. The Wellness Team discerns the need and appropriate steps for all requests.
Classis clerks and/or executive committees will be notified if the requesting parties agree to engage in mediation.
Inquiries about mediation services may be made by contacting the Regional Synod of New York by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 914-332-1311.
WHAT ABOUT COSTS FOR MEDIATION?
Costs for mediation are paid by those who use the service or are paid on behalf of others, according to this schedule:
- $100 per mediator per session
- $25/hr pre/post session work
- Travel reimbursement (current IRS rate)
- Classis/Synod aid may be available.