The Bridge

Conflict Stewarsdhip. Communication skills alone do not ensure peace among Christians. We need to learn and practie the four basic biblical steps to restore fellowship when relationships become strained and broken among believers. The Bridge is an adaptation of Ken's Sande's Four "G" model to peacemaking outlined in his book, "The Peacemaker." However, when we combine biblical communication with biblical peacemaking conflict between believers becomes an incredible opportnity to experience and share the good news of Christ. It is the very best opportunity to be and make disciples of Jesus. This is so true, that I have take to speak of Christian peacemaking as "Conflict Stewarship." Conflict is a precisou opportunity to fulfill our mission. Conflict is where the deepest, truest, and longest lasting transformation takes place. It is in and through conflict we are best shapeed in the image of Christ. But we miss the opportunity when we do not know how to communicate or take the basic steps to restore fellowship.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:18)

The Four Piers to Peace

Align wth Christ Peace always begins with me aligning myself with Christ. There must first be peace between and God before there can be peace between me and you. Sometimes this is the only step we need to take.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Assess My Part Jesus makes it very clear that before I take anyone else's inventory, I need to take my own. Again, many problems and issues get resolved here as well. Seeing my own contribution to a problem however can be difficult. I may need to seek out someone who can give me wise counsel and coaching to help me face my own heart issues.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Appeal to the Other Jesus is also clear that there are times we have to approach others and make an appeal over some issue that has become a problem. This step is the least practiced of all the steps. When it is practiced, it is usually done ineffively in a way that makes the problem worse. This is where we put into practive the commmunication tools offered in the ITICC framework. Many Christians has been harmed and many churches lost because no one was willing or able to have the tough conversation.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. (Matthew 18:15)

Agree to Restore Forgiveness, reconciliation, resolution, and restoration are all key components to this final step. Our ultimate goal is not just to get people to shake hands, but the restoration of genuine fellowship in Christ.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)

Conflict Coaching and Mediation

Getting Assistance Jesus insructs us to acquire assistance when two or more people are unable to resovle their issues on their own. Again, Christians and churches usally fail to do this. When they do, it is usually too late. There are Christians and Christian organizations that specialize in coaching believers through conflict as well as sitting down with all the parties and faciliating a process where the parties can reconsilce, resolve problems, and restore fellowshiop. This is generally referred to as "mediation" after the example of Christ who is the ultimate mediator.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' (Matt 18:15-16)

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil 4:2-3)