The Peacemaker Student Edition
New book for teens that provides a biblical framework for young people who want to handle conflict without fighting back or running away. $10.95 more info
|Upcoming Event Schedule:
• July 31-Aug 2 – Riverside, CA – Conflict Coaching and Mediation • Aug 7-9 – Billings, MT – Teaching Peacemaking Cross-Culturally • Aug 16 – Brooklyn, NY – Peacemaker Seminar
• Pre-Conference Events
** September 23-25, 2008 – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
** September 23-25, 2008 – Reconciling Church Conflict** September 23-25, 2008 – Certification Training
** September 23-25, 2008 – Teaching Peacemaking Cross-Culturally
** September 24-25, 2008 – Reconciling Marital Conflict• Oct 11- Woodville TX – Peacemaker Seminar • Oct 16-18- Cambridge, MA – Conflict Coaching and Mediation
• Nov 15- Chatham, NJ – Conflict Coaching
More information, registration, or complete listing of upcoming events
Preventing Church Splits
How every pastor’s objective is to develop and maintain unity in the churchBy Thabiti Anyabwile, Featured Speaker at 2008 Peacemaker Conference
I have a new and growing conviction. I don’t know why it hasn’t always been a conviction, at least not quite in this way. But, nonetheless, I am convinced that one of my fundamental objectives as a pastor is to prevent church splits from happening.
I don’t mean that it’s my responsibility to make sure no one leaves, or to settle every dispute in a way that preserves unity at all costs. No, there’ll be times when a “split” will, humanly speaking, be inevitable, and I trust that the Lord has good purposes in causing or allowing them to happen.
What I mean is this: I have some basic responsibilities as a pastor. I must teach and preach God’s Word; I must pray; I must be an example; and, I must carry on a visitation ministry. That’s basically what I think a pastor is to do (admittedly a bit oversimplified).
But I am increasingly convinced that I am to do those things with a particular perspective. I’m to do those things with an eye toward the developing and continuing unity of the church. Said negatively, I’m to work in such a way as to prevent the splintering of Christ’s local body in my charge.
It seems to me that preventing splits is a bit like preventative health care. Most of us stroll through life without caring much about our health. We eat any and most everything. We don’t exercise regularly. Our sleep habits are terrible. We overwork ourselves at high-stress jobs, and we seldom take vacations. Then we go to the doctor for a checkup or because some pain or another won’t go away. That’s when we hear the news: our bodies have actually been carrying on a covert coup against us. We’re told that our blood pressure is high. Cholesterol is clogging up blood flow. And then there is the dreaded “O” word that seems to be wreaking havoc on youth in particular—obesity.
We react with surprise at the news. Not the kind of surprise that’s completely unsuspecting; we knew that neglecting ourselves could result in these things. No, we’re surprised because it happened to us. “High blood pressure… that’s Aunt Annie’s problem. Obesity… that’s Uncle Bobo’s issue.” The reality of the problem—completely preventable if it had been at least a part of our focus—comes crashing home. We’re sick, and now there is only the drudgery of changing life-long habits and/or undergoing some radical procedure.
I think church splits are a lot like that. Churches adopt lifelong bad habits, deny the warning signs (the sleeplessness, headaches, and chest pains), and then are surprised when part of the body carries out the silent coup. They don’t think it will happen to them no matter how bad things get. And then it does, and the pain is great.
There were early warning signs:
- Growing numbers of cliques and factions
- Low concern for the church as a whole
- Self interests dominate group interests
- Isolated and absent members
- Lack of humility
- Mixed allegiance to the pastor(s)/elders
- Low emphasis on the Word of God
These are some of the early warning signals for a church split. Imperceptible at their start, they grow very slowly in most cases. When you feel mild discomfort from them, they’ve usually rooted themselves to some extent. And by the time you feel real pain, those roots have formed huge balls and arteries that wrap themselves around the foundation of the house. Excavating them will be painful and costly. But in many cases, by the time you feel the pain, the conditions for a split are quite abundant.
I’m convinced that it’s my job to pastor in such a way that I try to ward off, retard, or uproot these problems before they give birth to greater sin. I need to approach the basic task of pastoring with at least one eye toward prevention. And I need to look beyond the horizon of this present congregation to consider those who are coming after us, to take the long view with the hopes of leaving a congregation that would be healthy for generations should the Lord tarry.
Pastors tend to impress upon their congregations something of their own personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and that impression tends to linger through subsequent generations and pastorates. Therefore, I need to work hard at being an example of one that loves like Jesus loves and one that encourages and teaches others to pursue unity and peace. That’s my task, I think. That’s the task of every Christian.
Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor and author with a contagious love for the church. (View his complete bio.) This article was adapted from a series on Thabiti’s blog, Pure Church, and is used by permission. A full version of this article was reprinted in the Summer 2008 issue of Peacemaker Magazine.
2008 Conference Registration Deadline Just Days Away!
Did you appreciate Thabiti’s heart for the church in his article above? Then come to the 2008 Peacemaker Conference and hear more from him and the other featured speakers that share his love and passion for unity in the body of Christ.
The 2008 Conference centers on the theme, “The Power of a Peacemaking Church,” so mark your calendar and join us in Orlando, Florida on September 25-27 for the peacemaking event of the year! And bring a group to save even more—for every four people you bring, the fifth is free!
Prices go up on July 1, so register soon to get the best rate.
Pre-Conference Training Events
Whether you are a seasoned conciliator or new to biblical peacemaking, there are a wide variety of events in the days just before the Peacemaker Conference that will give you the training you need. So come a little early (September 23-25) and maximize your conference experience by attending one of these pre-conference training events:
- Conflict Coaching Training (1.5 days)
- Conflict Coaching & Mediation Training (3 days)
- Reconciling Marital Conflict (2 days)
- Reconciling Church Conflict (3 days)
- Teaching Peacemaking Cross-Culturally (3 days)
- Certification Course (3 days)
For details, prices, prerequisites, and registration information for each event, please see the pre-conference web page at www.peacemaker.net/preconference. Early registration ends August 15.
New Peacemaking Resource for Teens Now Available
We’ve been waiting for years, and there is finally a peacemaking resource specifically geared toward teens. Written by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson, The Peacemaker Student Edition uses the same sound scriptural approach as in The Peacemaker and provides teens a solid foundation for wisely handling the conflicts they face.
While written for teens, this book is also a must-have for parents, grandparents, and youth workers. It’s ideal for group study, since each chapter includes a set of thought-provoking discussion questions. For a closer look at the book, download Chapter 1 (with Table of Contents) or listen to a short interview with Ken Sande. You may order The Peacemaker Student Edition through our online bookstore or by calling 800-711-7118.
The Peacemaker Published in French
We are pleased to announce that Ken Sande’s flagship book on peacemaking, The Peacemaker, is now available in French: L’Artisan de Paix: Un Guide Biblique Pour La Gestion Des Conflits Personnels. It is available for $13.95 in our online bookstore.
By the way, don’t you think that “Artisan of Peace” is a really expressive way to say peacemaker? Artisans worked hard to hone a craft through many years of practice, creating something wonderful and beautiful to behold. Is that how you think of peacemaking? Being a peacemaker may take hard work and much practice, but the results–reconciled relationships–are beautiful and precious both to those involved and those who look on with interest.
So let’s all be artisans of peace!