Eight Ways to Reshape a Church’s DNA
Fourteen years ago our church melted down in our last great church fight. When the dust settled, both vocational pastors had resigned, all the lay elders did the same, and half the deacons withdrew from office as well. It was ugly.
Since then we’ve worked hard to cultivate a culture of peace at OGC. If we can help it, we don’t ever want to go again to such a devastating place of disunity. We’ve worked hard over the years to cultivate a culture of peace eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).
We don’t do everything perfectly, but we have made strides in this department. Here are eight things a church can do in an ongoing campaign to make peacemaking a priority.
One, stress peacemaking as one of the core values. Different churches emphasize different biblical facets in their ecclesiology. Don’t leave peacemaking on the cutting room floor.
Two, pray often and eagerly for the peace and purity of the church. Don’t take unity for granted. Ask God to protect the shalom of the assembly and keep it from strife.
Three, write peacemaking into the church documents. Include it in the bylaws, membership covenant, and new member class training. Kick things up an extra notch by adopting a relational commitments philosophy.
Four, stock peacemaking books in the resource center and/or church library. Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker, among others, is an absolute must for reading that equips people for peacemaking.
Five, train people with relational gifts and skills in the arts of conflict coaching and mediation. Peacemaker Ministries offers excellent seminars in both. Build a reconciling relationship team so the burden of assisted peacemaking falls on more servants than just the pastors.
Six, recite The Peacemaker Pledge whenever new members enter the church. Hammer away at the Four Gs whenever possible. Drill them into engaged couples as part of pre-marital counseling so they learn to resolve conflict in a God-honoring way.
Seven, feature Resolving Everyday Conflict seminar offerings in the Christian Ed and/or small group ministries. We offer this at least every three years as part of our Sunday AM equipping class curriculum. Easy to do and highly effective in saturating folks with key biblical content in this crucial area.
Eight, cast vision for peacemaking excellence from the pulpit. I do this every year on the anniversary of our last church fight. I divert from the ongoing sermon series for that one Sunday and preach a peacemaking passage. Tomorrow I’ll take the congregation to Philemon with a look at Paul’s masterful mediation efforts to help reconcile a slave and his master.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts: Strive for peace with everyone (Heb. 12:14). The verb gets translated a variety of ways–make every effort, pursue, work at, follow after.
No matter how you cut it, shaping a church from peacebreaking to peacemaking requires intentional, strategic, and whatever-it-takes change over time. Remember. Change nothing and nothing will change.
What additional things does your church do to cultivate a culture of peace? I invite your comment below!