Why do Christian communities need this website?
The short answer is that Christians (and others!) suffer needless broken relationships, wasted time, and derailed mission when parties resort to avoidance, premature higher authority (church tribunals, lawsuits) or force (unilaterally leaving, resorting to gossip and character assassination, or physical violence), instead of following anything close to the Preferred Path Steps.
There are at least two reasons for this.
First, most people have no clue that these Steps even exist. Or, they have some idea about one or more Christian concepts (like love your neighbor), but have a tough time applying them in the heat of the moment.
Equally problematic, it is the rare Christian community (church, family, denomination, other organization) in which the Preferred Path Steps are fully integrated into policies and procedures, enough so that they will be used when needed.
All of which points to the rationale for putting these Steps up on a web site for use by anyone who needs them.
In what circumstances might someone use this site?
- Communicating: Here you hope to listen well and speak clearly to others, in order to achieve deeper understanding; there may not necessarily be a problem to be solved, but rather an interest in strengthening relationships.
- Building Consensus: In this case you have a topic on the table, though parties may hold very different views, and may site different facts to support their respective positions; unless they achieve some agreement on a topic that has demanded their attention, they may well suffer losses in time, relationships and other aspects of life together.
- Resolving Conflict: In this case some past or current event is perceived by one or more others to have caused harm; one or more individuals want justice, peace, and/or healing.
Does using this site require the participation of all parties?
No. The site is based on the premise that even one party following the Preferred Path can make a significant difference in the outcomes of communication, consensus building, and conflict resolution events.
You can use this site unilaterally as a guide for your own behavior; or invite others, even opponents, to use it with you.
What is the Scriptural foundation for the conflict resolution component of this ministry?
This ministry aims to honor the guidance found in the New Testament, especially the following:
- Matthew 5: 23-24 where Jesus instructs a follower to reconcile with another when you believe that the person has “something against you.”
- Matthew 18: 15-17 where Jesus describes a stepwise approach to use if a fellow believer “sins against you.”
- I Corinthians 6: 1-11 where Paul admonishes followers for taking disputes to the secular courts, instead of resolving them internally among “the saints.”
When conflicts occur, this site offers hope for:
- Perceived wrongdoers (Mathew 5 people)
- Perceived victims (Mathew 18 people), and
- Peacemakers and other leaders who wish to take seriously the injunction to resolve conflicts and disputes without litigation (I Corinthians 6 people).
What products and services does this ministry offer?
This site provides:
- Immediate guidance in applying the Preferred Path Steps (web pages).
- 24/7 access to 27 tools and in depth guidance for each Step.
- Convening Services to assist in bringing one or more other parties “to the table” for a collaborative solution.
- Education and Training courses.
- Consultation to assist in integrating the Preferred Path into church and family life.
How much does it cost?
Fees range from Free to Non-Profit rates for tools and training.
- Immediate help in applying the Preferred Path to a case.
Access to information on this site is Free to anyone with a web browser.
- 24/7 access to 27 tools and 36 detailed subheadings for navigating the Preferred Path Steps.
Low cost enrollment fee.
- Convening Services to bring parties together for a collaborative process.
Per party fee, includes confidential telephone contact with key parties, scheduling, assistance in selecting facilitator/mediator, follow up and evaluation.
- Education and Training.
Reduced fee for Christian communities.
- Integration Services.
Reduced consulting fee for Christian communities.
What does it mean to “convene your case for mediation”?
It is not uncommon for the resolution process to derail over arguments about whether or not to use a mediator. Convening is intended to address this problem. Any party can call to request that a convener contact all parties to explain options for facilitation/mediation, help find a mutually agreeable person, and assist with scheduling and follow up. The first party pays only their share of an administrative fee. For more information, click Convening Your Case for Mediation.
How does a mediator make a difference?
Mediation is an assisted negotiation. If, for any reason, the parties have failed to resolve an issue, or if one or more is fearful about walking into difficult territory, the mediator can serve as a buffer, guide, and sometimes coach. Mediators typically use both private and joint meetings to help parties unbundle issues, listen to one another, and create integrative solutions.
Can the Preferred Path prevent lawsuits?
Yes. Steps 1-4 are intended to help believers resolve differences without litigation through the secular courts.
Is there an arbitration requirement in the Preferred Path?
No. Mediation is the preferred process for third party assistance and participation is voluntary. Parties may decide to use arbitration as a method in Step 5 Higher Authority.
Does using this program take away rights to go to court?
No. Any party not satisfied with the outcome of a negotiation or mediation (Steps 3 and 4, respectively) retains the right to pursue the matter through the courts in Step 5.
What is the role of attorneys in the Preferred Path Ministry?
Parties often wonder about their legal rights when involved in a conflict involving another person or group. This is true in church matters as well as family, business, and community conflicts. However, one of the difficulties with legal representation is that it sometimes leads to escalation of the conflict. Hearing that someone has “consulted an attorney” can conjure up the threat of litigation, and lead to parties ending direct communication at the time when it might be most beneficial.
The Two-Track model of attorney representation is designed to solve this problem. If the parties need legal counsel they consult their chosen “Track 1 attorneys” who advise them on legal matters, and may also represent them for negotiation and mediation (collaborative processes), excluding themselves from any subsequent litigation. If the case proceeds to litigation (Step 5), the parties engage “Track 2” attorneys for that phase. Specific rules protect communications in negotiation and medication from being used against one party or another in any subsequent court proceeding, if it comes to that.
In some cases a church can decline the Track 2 option altogether, which allows strict adherence to Paul’s guidelines in I Corinthians 6.
For more information, visit www.twotracklawyers.com.
How can a secular organization use these tools?
Blue Lion Conflict Solutions also provides a generic version of the Preferred Path to non-Christian organizations (www.bluelionconflictsolutions.com).