The High Cost of Conflict Among Christians

The High Cost of Conflict Among Christiansby Ken Sande, Founder of Peacemaker MinistriesYou may know from first-hand experience that conflict among Christians is costly. But just how costly is it? I admit that it is difficult to quantify the spiritual cost of conflict—how do you measure the pain, suffering, and diminished witness caused by Christians who fight one another? Yet as I’ve looked at several studies in the United States, I think that it is possible (and reasonable) to estimate the more tangible costs of conflict. I believe you will find it both eye-opening and sobering. Summary Born again Christians in the U.S. file 4 to 8 million lawsuits every year, often against other Christians, costing 20 to 40 billion dollars. There are approximately 19,000 major, scarring church conflicts in the U.S. each year (an average of 50 per day). 32% of born again Christians who have been married have gone through a divorce, virtually the same percentage as our general population. 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month in the U.S. because of conflict, burnout, or moral failure, costing the church at least $684 million each year. Lawsuits Among Christians 20 million civil lawsuits are filed in state courts each year.1 No attorney I have talked to thought that Christians were noticeably less likely to file a lawsuit than a non-Christian. 41% of American adults are “born again” (have made a personal commitment to Jesus and believe they will get into heaven because they trust in him).3 Estimated number of civil lawsuits filed by “born again” Christians: 4-8 million20 million x .41 = 8 million (even if Christians...

The Dangers of “Good” Advocacy

The Dangers of “Good” Advocacy  This article originally appeared in the Spring 1990 issue of the Christian Legal Society’s Quarterly publication.by Ken Sande, Founder of Peacemaker Ministries When can doing a good job actually hurt your client? A call to conscientious representation and reconciliation.A few months ago, I was asked to arbitrate a sizable contract dispute. Although the facts and the law were clearly in the defendant’s favor, the plaintiff’s attorney did a masterful job advocating his client’s position. A few hours’ testimony stretched into three long days, and for a while even I was beginning to wonder whether the plaintiff had been treated unfairly. By the time both sides rested their cases, however, it was clear to me that the plaintiff had breached the contract and that the defendant’s subsequent actions were justified, both legally and morally. I knew that my decision would probably destroy the plaintiff’s last hope of salvaging his business, and I felt badly when I denied his claim. What disturbed me even more, however, was the realization that this young man had been deluded by his own attorney. No, the attorney did nothing that should be reported to a commission on practice. In fact, his performance was superb by worldly standards. From a biblical view, however, it left much to be desired. A Decade of Blindfold Advocacy The trouble with this attorney, from my perspective, was that he was too effective when it came to advocating his client’s case. Hour after hour, he drew attention to every fact that appeared to justify his client’s conduct or condemn the defendant’s actions. At the same time,...

The Cross and Criticism

The Cross and CriticismThis article originally appeared in the Spring 1999 issue of The Journal of Biblical Counseling, (Vol. 17, No. 3) and is reprinted by permission. It is also available in booklet form.by Dr. Alfred J. Poirier, former Chairman of the Board of Directors for Peacemaker Ministries Culture of Peace Booklets Short and easy-to-read booklets provide “bite-sized morsels” on topics related to biblical peacemaking—perfect for giving away to friends and family members! $1.75/ea more info On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger and its crew embarked on a mission to broaden educational horizons and promote the advancement of scientific knowledge. The most outstanding objective of the Challenger 51-L mission was the delivery of educational lessons from space by teacher Christa McAuliffe. A lesson was, indeed, delivered, but not one which anyone expected.Just 75 seconds after liftoff, tragedy struck. Before a watching world the shuttle suddenly erupted overhead, disintegrating the cabin along with its crew. The debris of metal, blood and bones plummeted to earth, along with our nation’s glory. What had gone wrong? That was the pressing question everyone asked. As teams of researchers examined the wreckage, the specific cause was soon found. The problem was with the O-rings (circular rubber seals), which had been designed to fit snugly into the joints of the booster engine sections. Evidently, the O-rings had become defective under adverse conditions, and the resulting mechanical failure led to the tragedy. Was that the whole story? The truth eventually got out. The New York Times put it frankly: the ultimate cause of the space shuttle disaster was pride. A group of top managers failed to...

Tell It to the Church

Tell It to the Church  The Biblical Basis for Leader-Led Disciplineby David V. Edling, Senior Ministry Consultant, Peacemaker Ministries Jesus said, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…” (Mt.18:17). Throughout history, telling the church that a brother or sister in Christ has become hardened in sin and refuses to repent has proven a difficult task. Today, in our culture of acceptance, obeying Christ and utilizing the authority of the church to deter and turn our friends from a path of sin to a path of repentance continues to be both difficult and rare. The challenge presented by Matthew 18:17 has become almost intolerable to those who have defined the church as a loose association of those “experiencing Jesus” together by enjoying the warmth of fellowship, rich contemporary music, and entertaining speakers.  Adding the element of personal accountability for sin to such a “fun” community ruins the appeal. This is especially true in those churches that historically have practiced Congregational polity where “tell it to the church” has been interpreted as “tell it to the congregation.” Telling the congregation just isn’t something feasible in a “fun” church that is on the move! Furthermore, telling the often-sensitive matters of discipline to a congregation composed of spiritual babies (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-2) as well as mature saints is an open invitation for polarization and church conflict. (Those who do not understand the biblical reasons and necessity for discipline frequently interpret such practices as “judgmental” and “intolerant”.) Polity practices are not the only barriers to the faithful practice of Matthew 18:17. Fear of man, even for biblical church...