Moving Toward Conflict

Greetings from Chicago!  (Ok, I’m in Lombard, but that is close enough to me.) 

This week I am attending the Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders put on by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.  That’s a really long title, but in a nutshell it is a full week of lectures, discussions, and lots of role-playing aimed at giving me the skills needed to help mediate conflicts on both an interpersonal and a congregational level.  That’s quite a tall order and one for which I am not sure I will ever feel fully prepared, no matter how much role playing we do. 

Thankfully I am not alone.  There is a group within CMC known as the Reconciliation Team that has also been trained in these skills.  This group exists to be a resource for those in need of mediation as well as to advocate and educate on matters of conflict transformation and nonviolent communication (they hosted a Sunday School class last year on these topics).

Conflict is hard, and often this week even just pretending to be in conflict has been enough to raise my blood pressure.  But I was also reminded this week that scripture is filled with stories of those facing conflict, and often conflict is shown as an opportunity to understand God in a new way. 

If you are anything like me, you do all you can to avoid conflict.  Certainly not all conflict is healthy or redemptive, but too often I think our avoidance of conflict keeps us from creating relationship that go beyond a surface level. 

So let us not fear conflict, but as we allow ourselves to move toward it, let us also remember that we don’t have to go alone.