How Can an Attorney Serve the Lord as a Peacemaker?
If you are a Christian attorney, God has uniquely positioned you to help others resolve conflict and restore relationships in biblically faithful ways. Here is a brief overview of some ways you can fulfill this calling. You will find more detailed information later on this page.
- You can begin by studying what the Bible teaches about peacemaking and then modeling these skills in your own personal, family and professional life. As 1 Timothy 4:15 teaches, “Practice these things. Immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
- When advising clients in existing conflicts, you can provide them with guidance on how they might be able to resolve the matter personally by applying biblical peacemaking principles.
- When clients are unable to resolve conflicts through personal conversations, you can encourage them to seek a resolution through biblically guided mediation or arbitration rather then litigation.
- You can pursue training and certification yourself through RW360 so that you are able to serve as a Christian conciliator in your church and community. Much of this training has been approved for continuing legal education credit.
- You can encourage clients to include legally enforceable “conciliation clauses” in their contracts to ensure that future disagreements will be resolved in a conciliatory manner in the church rather than going into court, as taught in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.
- You can encourage your church to use RW360 educational resources to equip your entire congregation with life-changing (and conflict-reducing) peacemaking principles.
- You can also encourage your church leaders to use RW360’s model “Relational Commitments” to reduce exposure to legal liability as they carry out necessary pastoral and disciplinary activities.
Are There Biblical Alternatives to Litigation?
Yes! Although civil litigation is sometimes the only way to resolve certain legal issues (see Appendix D in The Peacemaker), the Bible teaches that Christians should first seek to settle their differences through biblically grounded mediation or arbitration (see Matt. 18:15-20 and 1 Cor. 6:1-8). Today this faith-based process is often referred to as “Christian conciliation.”
As these Scriptures indicate, disputes that are primarily relational or that involve simple legal issues can often be resolved with the assistance of spiritually mature believers in the local church. Disputes that involve more complex legal, relational or spiritual issues may require the assistance of Certified Conciliators who can provide biblical, professional alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services.
Ever since the Christian Legal Society trained the first Christian conciliators in 1982, this process had been used to resolve a wide spectrum of conflicts, including: contract, business, employment, family and divorce, negligence, probate, intellectual property, sexual misconduct, church divisions and wrongful death (see actual case descriptions on this page).
This process has been used and affirmed by Christians and non-Christians alike, and conciliation decisions have been upheld by both federal and state courts.
What Are the Benefits of Using Christian Conciliation Instead of Litigation?
Christian conciliation honors God, promotes traditional values, preserves relationships, encourages beneficial change, avoids negative publicity, provides a positive witness, and is relatively inexpensive. A conciliation process is also likely to trigger the “Golden Result,” which can result in genuine reconciliation and mutually beneficial solutions to substantive issues.
In addition, when compared to litigation, Christian conciliation is less constrained by rigid procedures, thus often allowing more creative remedies and faster results. Conciliation also tends to counteract the “Dangers of ‘Good’ Advocacy.“
Another benefit is that Christian conciliators have more flexibility than do civil judges when it comes to hearing testimony or reviewing evidence. Thus, if a dispute involves defects in the construction of a building or the repair of an automobile, a conciliator may personally inspect the building or drive the car. As a result of this flexibility, parties often feel that the facts and issues in the case are given a more personal review than would occur in a court of law.
Christian conciliation is especially beneficial for people who sincerely want to do what is right and are open to learning where they may have been wrong. Conciliators can help them to identify improper attitudes or unwise practices, to understand more fully the effects of their decisions and policies, and to make improvements in their lives and businesses that will help them to avoid unnecessary conflict in the future.
Where Can I Learn More About Christian Conciliation?
The Handbook for Christian Conciliation provides detailed information about Christian conciliation, including frequently asked questions, rules of procedure, a standard of conduct for Christian conciliators and a model conciliation agreement. Guiding People Through Conflict provides examples of how conciliation principles can actually be applied in a variety of church situations.
How Can I Encourage a Client to Resolve Conflict Biblically?
If time allows, encourage your client to read The Peacemaker, A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, which is the most widely used book for training Christian conciliators. A Personal Application Workbook can be downloaded at RW360 Downloads. These simple resources have helped countless Christians to resolve conflicts through their own personal efforts.
If personal efforts are not appropriate or successful but you believe that your client’s dispute might be successfully resolved with the assistance of his or her church leaders, you could encourage those leaders to apply the principles and processes set forth in Guiding People Through Conflict. Church leaders can use the Conciliation Hotline to request free advice on how to implement these processes.
If a case may require professional conciliation assistance, you can provide your client with a copy of the Handbook for Christian Conciliation. If necessary, you could also schedule a conference call with one of the conciliation ministries listed below to address any questions or concerns your client may have.
Note: if you have an emergency situation with exigent circumstances (such as domestic, child or spiritual abuse), we advise you to contact one of the ministries listed below and appropriate civil authorities before attempting the above suggested steps.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Conciliator?
You can find dozens of well-trained and qualified conciliators by going to RW360’s Conciliator Directory.
Where Can I Receive Training as a Conciliator?
To receive an overview of how you could apply peacemaking and conciliation principles in your personal life as well as your legal practice, RW360 recommends that you go through our Attorneys as Relationally Wise Peacemakers and Conciliators Course, a three-hour online course that has been approved for continuing legal education when presented at Christian Legal Society conferences and hosted by law firms.
You can pursue more in-depth training and be certified as a conflict coach or conciliator through RW360’s Training and Certification Program. Our foundational course on relational wisdom (biblical emotional intelligence), has been approved for ten-hours of continuing education credit in many professional areas.
You can take your training to an even higher level, and also spend time with many attorneys who have served as conciliators for years, by attending RW360’s 2023 Sowing Peace Conference, which is scheduled to for November 2-5 in Billings, Montana.
How Can I Make Peacemaking Training Available to My Law Firm?
If God has given you a heart for peacemaking and you would like to see others benefit from this type of training, you could use RW360’s ’ resources for professional development training for your entire law firm staff, which can produce major benefits for your firm. Our foundational training is available in both faith-based (Christian) and values-based (secular) paradigms, so each person in your firm could select the version he or she prefers.
How Can I Make RW360’s Resources Available to My Church?
As a result of their professional credibility, Christian attorneys are uniquely positioned to bring peacemaking into their churches. RW360 has developed a wide variety of resources that you can recommend to your church. These resources include:
- Free downloads and ebooklets on relational wisdom and peacemaking.
- Guiding People Through Conflict, a free 70-page ebooklet designed to help church leaders resolve church conflicts through conflict coaching and mediation.
- Foundational training in relational wisdom and biblical peacemaking that can be taught to an entire congregation through Sunday school and small group studies.
- More advanced training for leaders and gifted volunteers who wish to serve the church as instructors, conflict coaches and conciliators.
- Guidance and resources designed to enable a church to establish an in-house peacemaking team that serves your entire congregation.
- Risk management resources that enable a church to reduce its exposure to legal liability while carrying out delicate pastoral care or church discipline (see Informed Consent: Legal Protection for Pastoral Ministry).
- A Conciliation Hotline that church leaders can use to seek guidance and assistance when seeking to help members resolve conflicts.
Does RW360 Recommend Mediation/Arbitration Clauses in Contracts?
Yes. Information about legally binding mediation/arbitration (conciliation) clauses may be found at Conciliation Clauses for Contracts and Wills.
Where Can I Learn More about RW360?
RW360’s 2023 Ministry Overview provides detailed informaiton about our history, vision and mission, distinctive global brand, training resources and strategic partners.
For more information on training and resources that attorneys can use to promote and practice biblical peacemaking and Christian conciliation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-294-6806.