I don’t understand what one person could possibly do to help in this midst of this terrible church conflict!

Path Broken Between People

Q: I don’t understand what one person could possibly do to help in the midst of this terrible church conflict!

A. You can be God’s instrument in redeeming your church’s conflicts by humbly depending on the Holy Spirit and following the biblical principles revealed in Scripture.

Every church conflict can be redeemed because every church conflict can be used for genuine spiritual growth, both individually and corporately within the body of Christ. Christ can use you to redeem your church’s conflict—regardless of how other people respond, even if you are only one lay member out of hundreds or even thousands, even if you are only one leader out of many. You can be God’s instrument in redeeming your church’s conflicts by following the biblical principles revealed in Holy Scripture—in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Church conflict is complex. The various causes of church conflict, the personalities involved, the church’s polity, and the level of spiritual maturity among leaders and members will raise questions that no one book or biblical model could possibly address with specificity. Therefore, be careful and pray as you seek counsel from church leaders and members about the application of this book and various Scriptural passages to your church’s specific situation. By seeking counsel from wise and spiritually mature Christians, all of us will hopefully avoid using any part of this book as a weapon to hurt others or fulfill any sinful demands we might have. Plenty of biblical peacemaking principles have been taken out of context and forced on others in loveless and selfish ways. We pray that will never be the case with this Acts 15 model. Instead, we pray that our efforts in this book will encourage and guide Christians and their churches in redemptive responses to conflicts—responses that are based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Theologian Dr. Dennis Johnson hits the nail on the head when he writes:

 In Scripture the starting point of instruction on right behavior is not a list of our duties, but a declaration of God’s saving achievement, bringing us into a relationship of favor with him.

(c) Tara Barthel & David Edling, “Redeeming Church Conflicts” (Baker Books, 2012)

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About Tara Barthel

Tara Barthel has served as a Christian mediator for over twenty years. She also maintains her license to practice law in the state of Illinois, formerly focused on high net worth (charitable) estate planning. Tara teaches conflict engagement at the college level and speaks internationally on the topics of redeeming conflict, trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Tara continues to write for publication and occasionally accepts Christian mediation, arbitration, and conflicted organization cases. In addition, she is healing from her recent sexual assault (in 2014) and her trauma-filled childhood (9/10 ACES). Tara is the author of the peacemaking women’s video series "Living the Gospel in Relationships,” the ASL-translated women’s video series "Becoming Who You Already Are," and the co-author of the books "Peacemaking Women" and "Redeeming Church Conflicts.” Tara also enjoys teaching young adults Philosophy of Theology and Rhetoric. Tara earned her law degree, with honors, and her M.B.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a B.A. in Psychology, summa cum laude, from Augustana College (Illinois). Currently working towards her second Master’s degree, Tara has been married to her husband, Fred, for over twenty-five years and they have two daughters and a very friendly Golden Retriever. To learn more about Tara Klena Barthel, please visit her website: www.tarabarthel.com or her public facebook page @tarabarthel.
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