Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond - Lesson 7

Crafting a Culture of Peace

By crafting a culture of peace, we can avoid the slippery slope towards violence and create a harmonious society. To achieve this, there are three fundamental building blocks that we need to focus on. The first is having a passion for the gospel, where we are genuinely excited about the gospel of Christ, and it becomes the dominant influence in our lives. This is not just an entry point, but it is the essence of the gospel. The second is unified leadership, where church leaders are committed and equipped to model and apply peacemaking in their primary relationships. These leaders exhibit a shepherd's heart to protect and guide. Without the heart, all the skills in the world will be of little use. Finally, we need a peacemaking theology, which requires us to move away from the conventional notion of conflict resolution and embrace a peacemaking mindset.

Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Lesson 7
Watching Now
Crafting a Culture of Peace

Building a Culture of Peace

I. Building Blocks for a Culture of Peace

A. Passion for the Gospel

B. Unified Leadership

C. Peacemaking Theology

D. Peacemaking Tools

  • Learn about the crucial role of leadership in conflict resolution, explore the various types of conflicts in the church, and understand the importance of building a peacemaking culture to prevent and address conflicts effectively.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the growth and crisis of the global church, with a focus on Africa, and learn about the tragic Rwandan genocide. You will examine the historical background of these crises, the church's role in addressing them, and the need to move beyond the Gospel of sin management. Embracing the four-chapter gospel, you will understand the church's responsibility as a community of reconciled people, embodying God's reconciling work in the world.
  • You will gain insights into the gospel and its applicability to everyday life, as well as its impact on society, including bringing reconciliation and creating heaven on Earth. The discussion acknowledges the difficulties of living out the gospel in society and the tension between living in the world and living for the gospel.
  • In this lesson, you'll gain insight into the sparks that ignite conflict in the church, understand how conflicts can escalate, and discover the importance of developing peacemaking skills and fully embracing the gospel to foster unity and resolve conflicts.
  • You will learn about conflict culture in the church, which is an inherited culture for resolving conflict shaped by visible and invisible elements and assumptions and values that drive conditioned responses, and how recognizing and addressing it can lead to healthy conflict resolution.
  • This lesson explores how pastors and church leaders address people-pleasing cultures, examining the attitudes and actions of laissez-faire, controlling, and peacemaking leaders, and discussing the role of the church in promoting peacemaking, involving others, and establishing support systems.
  • Crafting a culture of peace requires three building blocks: having a passion for the gospel, unified leadership that exhibits a shepherd's heart to protect and guide, and embracing a peacemaking theology. By focusing on these building blocks, we can create a harmonious society that avoids the slippery slope towards violence.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of unified leadership within the church, demonstrating how effective leadership can help overcome crises and conflicts. By examining factors that contribute to unity and disunity among leaders, you will gain insight into the importance of addressing issues such as control, communication, differing gifts, competition, and qualifications in order to maintain a cohesive and gospel-centered leadership team.
  • You will gain insight into the importance of preparation and certain characteristics that need to be in place before conflict in order to build a united leadership team, using an analogy of running a marathon.
  • This lesson provides insights on understanding conflict and developing a peacemaking theology, teaching you how to respond biblically and create an approach that honors God and benefits those involved in the conflict.
  • You will learn practical steps to overcome conflict by reflecting the glory of God, responding with humility and grace, prioritizing unity over self-interest, speaking the truth in love, and pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • By learning practical peacemaking tools and focusing on communication, you'll enhance your ability to resolve conflicts by mastering responsible listening and speaking, enabling you to better understand others and communicate your message more effectively.
  • You will learn about the importance of listening as a spiritual practice to connect with God and others, and how being open and attentive to God's voice through listening can lead to greater awareness of His presence and deeper relationships with Him and others.
  • Gain insights into the barriers to good listening, the 600 word gap between listening capacity and speaking rate, and the objectives of responsible listening to improve communication and build trust in relationships.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the vital role of responsible speaking and listening in conflict resolution and how taking responsibility for understanding others and being understood can improve the chances of successful outcomes, along with strategies to enhance communication.
  • Learn to manage the Grapevine, an informal communication network, and understand the roles of Centrals and Peripherals in sharing information, as well as conflict mediation techniques and the importance of acknowledging and accommodating uneven tables in disputes.
  • This lesson highlights the crucial role of peacemaking beyond the church, touching on the history of American evangelicalism, race relations, and the inspiring story of Koinonia Farm, which exemplifies the importance of fostering reconciliation in a divided world.

How conflict and leadership intersect..

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Crafting a Culture of Peace
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] So we've talked about this slippery slope. So now let's try to begin building a culture of peace. I want to suggest that there are several building blocks for crafting a culture of peace, and this is sort of the outline, if you would, for the rest of this course. Building blocks for building a culture of peace. Let's try to say that five times. The first is what we might call a passion for the gospel. To craft a church culture where people are truly excited about the gospel of Christ. And this gospel is the dominant influence in their lives. It's not just an entry point. It's not just a ticket, but it is their passion, the essence of the gospel. And we're going to talk about that quite a bit. Secondly is what we call unified leadership. Church leaders that are committed and equipped to model and to apply peacemaking in their own primary relationships. These this unified leadership exhibit a shepherd's heart to protect and to guide. And I believe without the heart, all the skills in the world will be of little use. And so that's why it's really about a passion for the gospel and unified leadership. Thirdly. Is what I might call a peacemaking theology. It seems to me, and I've been guilty of this as well. Too often we leaders revert to what might be called a quote, devotional approach to conflict. You know, or a devotional approach to conflict is some of you may have daily devotions, say, in the morning time and. So you you read a scripture and you apply that scripture for the day. And it may not be the whole counsel of God, but it's that scripture for the day. Well, that gets you in a little bit of trouble when it comes to conflict, because if we only are able to apply the most recent thing that we read in the scriptures related to conflict, that can really get us into some interesting territory.

[00:02:28] Let me give you an example. This morning we're in Proverbs and we read Proverbs Chapter 19, verse 11. It says, to overlook the offense. And so we overlook it because of what it is. But then a week from now, we're over into Luke 17, verse three, where Jesus instructed his disciples to rebuke the sinful Brother. And so we rebuke that's that's a devotional approach to it's well-intended, but we end up with a sort of a schizophrenic approach to conflict resolution and peacemaking. I believe we need a biblical theology of peacemaking for the church that pulls these principles together so that we can apply them thoughtfully and properly as the situation calls. We need a biblical and a practical theology to be effective ambassadors of reconciliation. And then finally, we need peacemaking tools. And we're going to look at some very practical tools that leaders can learn and that they can teach to people in their church so that all the way to peacemaking, as I said at the beginning, is not on the shoulders of the leader, but like Moses. And in Exodus chapter 18, we need some help. And so the more we can equip others to do that, the better off will be. So let's begin with the first building block, which is a passion for the gospel. The greatest conflict in history, of course, was the estrangement of sin for humankind from the creator. As a result, Adam and Eve were not only estranged from God, they were alienated from one another. She did it. God. She ate the forbidden fruit. Blame her. And the enmity immediately escalated in the next generation, of course, where brother Martyr's brother. And so it goes. The good news of the gospel is just as this estrangement entered through the sin of one man, so also by one man, Paul told the Romans, namely Jesus, a way of peace has been made to the cross for the reconciliation with God, the Father and with one another.

[00:04:50] And often when I go to speak to a group, someone will ask me what I'd like to say them say them to say about me by way of introduction. And over the last few years, my usual response is to tell them, Just tell them that I'm forgiven. And they're kind of, you know, taken aback by that. But that's all I want to tell them. Forgiven, because I've never gotten over quite the miracle of that reality that that I am forgiven and what potential that opens in relationship with other people. So that's that's really the the essence of a passion for the gospel. And there are a couple of a couple of of of examples. And if you're taking this on line, I would I would encourage you to study through these. It's the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew chapter 18 versus 21 to 35. In that parable, it's remembering the great debt that we have been forgiven. And then the story of the Pharisee and the Sin for Woman in Luke, Chapter seven, verse 36 through 50. The message there is whoever has been forgiven will forgive and love much. And Jesus own example, of course, when he said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they're doing. And Stephen, as he was being stoned to death, echoed Jesus words. Then he fell to his knees and cried, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. ROMANS Chapter five verses six through eight. We see at just the right time when we were still powerless. Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die a right for a righteous person, though for a good person, some might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this.

[00:06:48] Why we were still sinners. Christ died for us. While when there is estrangement, God doesn't wait for the other to make the first move, He takes the initiative to reconcile, and this is his example to us. Now, one of the one of the tasks then of of being a peacemaker is base making later is to find ways to fan and to flame this passion, this love, this adoration, this embracing of the gospel. In that way, people keep living in the reality that we are new creations, ambassadors of reconciliation. This gospel is is what helps us avoid sliding into people pleasing or controlling leadership styles to serve people as peacemakers. I want to share with you a story about a little girl that was born in 1935. They named her Nancy. And Nancy's mother and father lived together for a little while after Nancy was born. But they were always arguing and bickering and fighting. It was not a happy home for Nancy and her sister. Her father was a big, large, gentle man, musician. He was a professional musician. He loved people. But Nancy's mother was another story. She was a Scottish. She was rough. She was tough. She had an eye for the dollar. She loved to bet on the horses there in St Louis at the horse track. She always was very strict with her two daughters. Well, there was a lot of lots of crisis moments in the home until eventually when Nancy was still very young, four years old, her dad was forced to pack his bags and move out. And from that day, Nancy's mother would not allow him to even as much as step foot in the home ever again. Nancy loved her dad and she was hurt by all this, but there was little that she could do as a child.

[00:08:53] So during the years to follow, her mother invited the sleazier people in the city of St Louis to hang around the house. She enjoyed entertaining gamblers and horse track hustlers who would often spend the night when they visited. So Nancy went to school during the day with a stigma of a mother who slept around. The men who would come, they'd come to drink and they'd eat and they'd play poker until the wee hours of the morning while Nancy and her sister were made to stay up and wash the dirty dishes until two, three or 4:00 in the morning. And then they had to get up and go to school the next day. And although Nancy wasn't allowed to visit her and Nancy wasn't allowed to visit her father, she would well, she was allowed to visit him. He wasn't allowed to visit her. So she would take the train some Sundays to go and be where he was. And they enjoyed their time together, fishing, going on picnics. But the moments were few and too far between and too quickly gone. When Nancy was 12. Her father passed away. Nancy lost the only person in the world she believed that loved her and cared for. She endured living with her mother for another five years until she was married at 17. Nancy hated her mother during her adult life after she got married. She hated her for all that she'd done. And I suppose for good reason. But after about ten years after she was married, Nancy came to know Christ. And she experienced the miracle of forgiveness. But she still had this thing about her mother. And how could she reconcile with all that pain with with with all that could not be fixed in her life, the horrendous childhood that she was forced to live through? Well, some years after she did become a believer, Nancy came to a crisis, a crossroads in her walk with God.

[00:10:50] She knew that her spiritual health depended on forgiving her mother for that awful childhood. There were lots of tears and lots of prayer. But in the end, she finally was able to make peace with her mother, even though her mother never asked for it. In fact, by that time, her mother had passed away. Nancy is 77 years old now and she is my mother. And she was able to be a peacemaker in the most difficult of circumstances because of the power of the gospel that not only she embraced, but the gospel that embraced her. And it's helpful to improve our skills as peacemakers. But the gospel is simply the most powerful tool we have for peacemaking. It's the most powerful tool there's ever been. It is the promise of forgiveness, not threats that inspires people to confess sin and forgive others. The hope of what God has done for us through Christ is what pulls marriages together. It pulls ministries back together. It is that hope for what God has done for us through Christ. The more we and the people we lead truly embrace this gospel of Christ and are transformed by it. The more effective will be in guiding our people through conflict in a way that glorifies God and strengthens his people. In our witness. So in conclusion, I want to quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and I have some questions about his theology, but his understanding of the church, I don't have any question. He said it's not. He said the gospel is not a tool for an occasional crisis. Rather, as Bonhoeffer wrote, it is the essence and nature of every aspect of our life together. And so that's what the passion for the gospel is all about. And we started with this with this four chapter gospel, because I just hope that we can capture how central and how core this is to who we are as the people of God, because it makes all the difference in how we approach one another in our seasons and our moments of conflict.


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