Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond - Lesson 10

Peacemaking Theology (Part 1/2)

In this lesson, you will gain insights on developing a peacemaking theology. You'll explore the nature of conflict, whether it's inherently sinful, and how people typically respond to it. The lesson discusses the escape and attack responses to conflict, with examples from a real-life situation in the Nevada desert. By understanding these different approaches, you'll be better equipped to respond to conflict in a biblical manner and help your congregation develop a peacemaking theology that honors God and benefits those involved.

Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Lesson 10
Watching Now
Peacemaking Theology (Part 1/2)

Lesson: Peacemaking Theology (Part 1/2)

I. Understanding Conflict

A. Definition of Conflict

B. Is Conflict Sin?

II. Approaches to Conflict

A. Escape Response

1. Denial

2. Flight

3. Self-destruction

B. Attack Response

1. Assault

2. Litigation

3. Murder

III. Developing a Peacemaking Theology

A. Learning from Personal Experiences

B. Responding Biblically to Conflict

  • 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
Peacemaking Theology (Part 1/2)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] So those are the first two building blocks, the third then and this is where we want to jump in tonight. The third is what we're calling a peacemaking theology. Now, this word theology here may be overstated, but it is a consistent, more comprehensive understanding of what an approach to to peacemaking rather than what I referred to last week as a devotional approach. You know, you kind of open your Bible one day and you read one text, overlook the offenses in the next day, rebuke the center, and somehow it's kind of schizophrenic as to how we function. So coming up with a really integrated and thoughtful peacemaking theology is is a critical building block in dealing with with, with, with this. It's key to help our congregations to understand how to respond biblically to conflict. So probably one of the best places to begin is to ask what is conflict? One of the classic questions is the question is conflict sin? And there are, uh, it really depends on how you define conflict. And that's what, what this conversation very quickly did is when there's disagreement, there's obviously disagreements that that are healthy. But what at what point is kind of like the question is, is anger sin? Um, it's kind of like, what do you do with it? At the very least when when you get right down to what do you do with this conflict that that matters completely. So I want to turn to one of the most respected names in the area of biblical peacemaking. His name is Ken Sandy. Ken, Sandy is head of has been head for a number of years of a ministry called Peacemakers. Peacemakers is currently partnering with our Ministry of Freedom to Lead International in a project for oral leaders in India.

[00:02:16] And so we're very excited about this. But Ken says that conflict is a difference of opinion or purpose that frustrates someone's goals or desires. Well, at the very least, as we've said, the response to these goals and desires getting blocked. Makes all the difference. That's really the core issue, isn't it? So how do people typically respond in conflict situations? Let me show you again, we go back now to our slippery slope. And what we want to do now is instead of applying this to a culture, applying it to individuals, and this, for example, is what how we want to we would want to equip our congregations with this kind of information and this kind of training and help so that they can begin to understand how this actually works on an interpersonal level. Just as church cultures and leaders have this slippery slope. So do we as individuals. The response is, of course, that that you can see there on the left side is an escape response. There is. Remember, back when the culture party was the people pleasing culture? Well, this response would be the escape response. On the right. On the right is is what we refer to as an attack response. That's takes the place of the controlling culture, the attack response. Again, this is at a personal level, an interpersonal level. When we look at the escape response, there are several. There are several things. But before I get to that, let me let me just give you a little bit of an example. In the middle, of course, there's the conciliation responses. In May of 1997. Back about 15 years ago, I was in the northern Nevada desert with a group of ten college students. At the time, I was working at a college, heading up a spiritual formation division at a college in California, and there were six men and four women, six college men and four college women in this group.

[00:04:38] And we were with a professional guide, a kind of professional wilderness guide fellow. And it was a program that we had developed at this college in our department called Conquest. And we used this program to train leaders of teams that would take college students around the world in ministry during the summer. They would go in teams. And and these leaders that we were training in the Nevada desert, we were training them in all kinds of leadership stuff in order to prepare them to take these teams. We figured if they could make it through the Nevada desert, they could make it through anything. And this was really an extreme thing. You know, we we required everybody and I participated. You weren't allowed to carry a toothbrush, and it was like a six or seven day trek. You weren't allowed to carry any toilet paper. It was a it was one of those kind of deals. I mean, it was a real deal out there in the desert. The goal, of course, was to was develop the leadership as they face challenges, as they face conflict with the the the the the natural elements of the desert as well as with each other. It was extreme. It was one of the most extreme things that I've ever experienced in my life. We did a 30 day solo or 30 hour solo. I was up on a mountaintop and woke up that morning under five inches of snow, and it was the whole whole thing. But the first day we hiked about 8 to 10 miles and as it was getting dark, we were in a ravine. And when I'm saying a ravine, I mean a ravine. The the sides of this thing were about 200 feet of straight up cliff on both sides.

[00:06:21] And and the only option was to go forward down the ravine or two or to go backwards. The only way it was to go forward, you couldn't go sideways and, you know, go backwards would be backtracking, Miles. And what we did was we came to a pool of water. It was a large pool. It was right there in the ravine. And that completely blocked our way forward. It was about 20 feet from one side of this pool of water to the other. Now it's dark by now. The pool was about four or five feet deep at its deepest point. It's dark and it's cold water. It's really cold. You know, the Nevada desert, northern Nevada desert is cold and may. Well, a couple of the students took one look at that at that pool of water, and they panicked. One of the students was very afraid because she didn't know how to swim. She feared slipping on the rocks and going under. She really tried to lobby us to turn around and go back. I mean, it would have been about a five mile trek uphill back through the ravine. But she was willing for us to take as many miles. We needed to search for another way around this thing. She wanted to avoid that pool at any cost. Two of the guys on the team, on the other hand, saw the pool as a way to to show off their macho skills. And without discussing a plan at all, they proceeded to wade across with their backpacks up above their heads and everything was going great. They were doing okay. But just as they were climbing onto the other side, there was a big, big boulder among as huge. It was as big as the middle of this room.

[00:08:09] They were climbing up on this boulder and one of them slipped on the rock. The water slipped on the rock and and holding his backpack above his head, he did a literally a face plant into that rock, and he just gashed his chin wide open and onto the rocks. Well, after a bit of discussion, you know, the rest of us were still standing on the other side thinking, what are we going to do here? We've got these women that are scared out of their skin. We've got these guys on the other side or bleeding. What do we do? Well, after a bit of talking and I was involved in trying to figure this out, the rest of us decided that we couldn't avoid the pool by turning back. But we witnessed that the mature approach wouldn't wasn't very effective either. We decided instead to form a chain of people across the pool. And when the when the chain was formed, we passed the backpacks across from one person to another. And then the girls who couldn't swim, they held on to each one of us for dear life until they threw the chain, until they reached the other side. And we all made it. We were. We were wet. We were cold. We had begun raining. So we literally pulled up a huge tarp over ourselves and slept through the night right there. But we learned something about ourselves through that experience. We noticed that people tend to approach conflict in war in various ways. As we look at that pool of water, that that massive barrier in front of us to some conflict is a hazard that threatens to sweep us off our feet and is to be avoided at all costs. We try to escape with everything that's within us.

[00:10:00] Christians often teach that conflict is bad news. In fact, some Christians teach absolutely that without question, without without exception, that conflict is sin. And that doesn't help a lot when it comes to figuring out how we're going to manage this thing. To others, conflict is an obstacle that we should attack and conquer, and the sooner the better, regardless of how bloody it might get. Some people have learned that conflict is an opportunity to solve common problems in a way that honors God and benefits those involved in the conflict. And so these three types of approaches sort of sum up in in a in a sense. And again, these are not rigid categories, but they sort of sum up the different approaches of the conflict that people might have under the escape approach. There's what we put there before there's denial. That's that's one way that people deal in escape. They pretend that the conflict doesn't exist. It brings that that approach brings temporary relief at times, but usually it ends up making matters even worse. And then if denial doesn't work, then flight is the next. And by the way, as you go down, these become more extreme. You'll see that flight, of course, is running away. It may be a legitimate thing to do in some circumstances when there are no avenues to solve the problems in a constructive manner. In most cases, the running away only postpones a proper solution to the problem. And then of course, there is self destruction, which in lack of better terms is the word suicide. When people lose all hope of resolving conflict, they they hurt themselves. They they take themselves out of the running. The other side of the equation is the attack. And we could start here with assault.

[00:12:11] There are various forms of of force or intimidation that that people use. And then there's litigation. Some conflicts are taken before a judge or a jury. But usually that destroys relationships and it doesn't ever achieve complete justice. So that's why in Romans 13 were encouraged to avoid this, if we can, because there is a difference between law and justice. And then in the extreme cases, of course, on the other side, we're on. Whereas on the escape response, there's suicide. You know, on the extreme side of attack, there's murder. Even when we don't murder a person physically, we can destroy their reputation. We can harbor hate in our hearts and do all kinds of damage. So those are the escape responses, typically. And as you see, even if even if these are not all the best words to describe it as we go more extreme, down one side or the other, you can see that those responses get more extreme. But but those are very real responses in the way that people deal with conflict. Does that make sense? And again, what we're saying, it's easier to slip one way or the other than it is to deal with with conciliation responses. And so here are conciliation responses closest over here to the escape response just over the line, if you would enter the conciliation areas, what we call overlooking the offense. Proverbs 19, verse 11, talks about overlooking offenses. You know, many disputes are just too insignificant to give your energy to. And so there are times in which overlooking the offense is an appropriate approach to dealing with it. Then of course, there is confrontation that and confrontation in the most positive sense. If an offense is too serious to overlook, we have to deal with it.

[00:14:18] And we're going to be talking about discussion and confession and and confrontation. But that is captured under that term confrontation. Okay. And then there is potentially mediation. Mediation is where issues that need to be resolved with the help of another that protects and satisfies the legitimate needs of both parties. So there are times in which we we really have to really get out of this thing and be aggressive in order to come up with solutions. If you know Matthew 18, verse 16, teaches us that if two cannot agree in private, they should ask one or more others to meet with them to help them communicate more effectively and explore possible solutions. In this model, the mediator advises, but does not force a particular solution. So that's what mediation is all about. We'll talk about that a little bit more later. Now, please know there's another realm of conflict. That is conflict resolution that in in the Christian realm that is not mentioned here. And it's what some have referred to is arbitration. And it's not included on this list. But but often this is where money is involved, is where property is involved. It's when two parties have agreed to a binding statement. In other words, it doesn't go to the court of law, but the two working with a with a with a negotiator or with a with a an arbitrator, if you will, It it's not a legal issue. But but before the parties enter into that agreement, they they they commit themselves to be bound by the agreement, whatever, but by the solution, whatever that solution happens to be, it's an important alternative to keep in mind in very difficult, very heavy cases, even though it's really beyond the scope of this course to deal to deal with that.

[00:16:19] So much. So that's kind of the slippery slope. And I think this is this model, I think has been very helpful for me and for people that have gone through interpersonal conflict resolution preparation, because it it helps us, even if the words are we could add other words or replace words, etc., it it helps us to understand that that there are serious ramifications when we began to slide one way or the other. And the call of God is to is to remain on the on the the the apex of that slippery slope in order to honor him most effectively.


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