Peacemaker Ministries and the Institute for Christian Conciliation

The ministry now known as Peacemaker Ministries began in the early 1980’s with a singular purpose: equip the church with dispute resolution skills so that disputes among Christians are resolved among Christians, using Christian principles, to God’s glory. The two foundational Scriptures for the ministry complement one another: I Corinthians 6:1-7 exhorts Christians not to sue one another in court, and Matthew 18:15-17 describes a process for how Christians should resolve their disputes. If Christians follow the principles in Matthew 18, they are unlikely to have unresolved disputes needing a court decision; but if they do, they can bring them to fellow Christians “wise enough” to resolve them, so there’s no need for Christians to bring their disputes to civil courts.

As the ministry grew, the development of inter-personal peacemaking skills (Matthew 18:15) was distinguished from the development of skills needed to intervene in other people’s conflicts (Matthew 18:16, I Cor. 6:5). All aspects of intervening in others’ conflicts—case administration of mediation and arbitration, Rules of Procedure, contract clauses, advanced training, and the certification of gifted conciliators—were placed under the umbrella of the Institute of Christian Conciliation (ICC) as a division of Peacemaker Ministries over twenty years ago.

Now the ICC will be formally separated from Peacemaker Ministries (PM). As PM sharpens its focus on equipping laypeople to respond to conflict biblically, it is seeking a new “owner” for the ICC. The board came to the difficult decision that it could not be a good steward of the ICC as well as of the other resources entrusted to it, especially the newest offering, The Path of a Peacemaker. The ICC audience is much smaller than the church at large, and deserves resources devoted to it. As one who has been involved with Peacemaker Ministries for decades, and now as a member of the board of directors, I have struggled with this decision. It feels in some ways like we’re cutting the heart out of the ministry; but on another level, it is a logical next step, given the dual audiences and the fiscal constraints in which PM is currently operating. I do believe God has made it clear to the board that things need to change and, as a matter of good stewardship, PM should transfer the ICC to another organization that can better enable it to fulfill its potential.

The church needs the ministry of the ICC more than ever. Christians continue to sue one another because they don’t know there’s a viable Christian alternative; and Christians gifted as mediators and arbitrators are searching for opportunities to use their skills to serve the church. With God’s help, the next owner of the ICC can energize this ministry so that it becomes a standard, integral component of the church.

One Comment

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