Biblical Conflict Resolution

What is Christian Conciliation?

At its core, the Institute for Christian Conciliation has a dual focus: conciliation and certification.

We have a skilled Christian conciliation network serving the Lord as: conflict coaches teaching deeper discipleship of the Word; Biblical mediators guiding restorative Christ-centered resolution, and experienced arbitrators offering wise and legally binding decisions. The term "conciliator" refers to any or all of these services. Conciliators specialize in conflict resolution but do not provide legal advice, pastoral oversight, or professional counseling.

You can learn more about Christian Conciliation through the ICC Guidelines for Christian Conciliation. This basic "rule book" explains the conciliation process to disputing parties; provides procedural rules, and encourages contract provisions that require conciliation rather than litigation in any future disputes. See www.ICCPeace.com/Guidelines

What is Conflict Coaching?

A wise peacemaker, skilled in conflict coaching, provides an opportunity for confidential support as you seek to better understand troubling relational conflict. Your conflict coach will help you explore the issues and solutions that can lead to problem-solving and greater personal peace. By working with a conflict coach, you have a healthy alternative with significant hope.

Often the Lord will use a conflict to increase faith and wisdom. Conflict coaching is one-on-one discipleship mentoring for the purpose of assisting you to reconcile difficult issues with one or more people. (see Matt. 18:15-16). The ICC offers training for conflict coaches to serve within the local church.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution [ADR]?

The ICC provides highly qualified and experienced mediators and arbitrators who will work with parties to resolve their dispute using a Biblically faithful but neutral dispute resolution process. ADR is commonly used to indicate that parties want to resolve differences through mediation/arbitration and not litigation. ADR often implies a court-approved process.

Skilled ICC conciliators have resolved a wide variety of civil disputes, from marriage and family conflicts to complex legal matters, such as employment disputes, breach of contract, estate disputes, partnership dissolution, wrongful termination, oil and gas disputes, international disputes, and organizational or family conflicts. ICC services are available for cases at any stage of the litigation process, and whether or not parties are represented by attorneys.

ICC Conciliators use the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation which are a part of Guidelines for Christian Conciliation.

What is Mediation?

Mediation promotes honest, constructive dialogue and encourages a voluntary settlement of the parties’ differences. The parties discuss the issues respectfully, under the direction and guidance of the mediator, in order to accomplish these four important steps:

  1. Seek an understanding of each other's positions and interests
  2. Seek an understanding of Biblical wisdom
  3. Explore and address each party's contribution to the conflict
  4. Lead to personal reconciliation, and
  5. Explore and evaluate creative solutions
At times, parties might be represented by their attorneys or pastors. Their role and participation in the mediation is governed by Rule 13 of The Rules of procedure for Christian Conciliation. The parties are encouraged to be the primary speakers in the mediation, with the attorney providing a role of giving counsel and advice to their client, not serving as the party's advocate or spokesperson.

During mediation, the parties retain control over the final outcome, and the mediators act only as facilitators. Agreements reached through mediation may be documented in legal contracts or stipulations.
Discussion and conclusions of mediation proceedings are confidential pursuant to Rule 16 of The Rules of procedure for Christian Conciliation, and are treated as settlement negotiations and are not admissible for any purpose in a court of law, except as provided in Rule 16.

Parties are welcome to involve their pastor or church leader for quiet prayerful support. See also Rule 17 for information regarding the involvement of a party's church.

Arbitration

Arbitration is a formal process that allows the parties to present evidence (their story) to the arbitrator(s), who decide the issue(s) based on the information provided by the parties and their desired outcomes, and by applying state, federal, or local laws, with the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) being the supreme authority (Rule 4). Arbitration decisions are legally binding and can be enforced as a judgment of a civil court. Arbitration is governed by 1 Corinthians 6 and the guidelines of Rules 25 through 42 of The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation.

Arbitration may be used to resolve a broad range of issues, especially when continued controversy seems to cause even more chaos. However, arbitration may not be used to resolve legal issues over which civil courts will not relinquish jurisdiction (e.g., child custody, support, and visitation); issues that are solely within the jurisdiction of the family (e.g., how to teach or discipline children); or issues that are solely within the jurisdiction of the church (e.g., determining doctrine, calling or dismissing a pastor, or exercising church discipline).

Another difference is that arbitration deals primarily with substantive issues; that is, it establishes facts and determines rights and responsibilities. To put it another way, while arbitration determines what people must do as a matter of law, mediation helps them to see what they should do as a matter of conscience. (After an arbitration decision has been issued, the arbitrators may address behavior and attitudes they observed in the parties during the conciliation process.)

In preparation for the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator will hold a conference to help the parties prepare and arrange for appropriate exchange of information prior to the hearing. The process is conciliatory rather than adversarial. In order to expedite the hearing and ensure full presentation of all relevant evidence to the arbitrator, the parties are expected to cooperate by fully disclosing their evidence to one another. The arbitrator does not meet with any party privately. All meetings and communications with the arbitrator involve all of the parties.

Parties may be represented by attorneys, with the attorneys speaking on their behalf and assisting them in the presentation of their evidence to the arbitrator. The arbitrator will apply rules for the discovery and distribution of documents, as set forth in the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation.

Mediation/Arbitration

Sometimes, it is ideal to begin with the mediation process and plan ahead to transition from mediation to arbitration if remaining issues are unlikely to be resolved through further mediation. This is commonly called a "med/arb" conciliation.

The Rules require an entirely new panel or arbitrator be appointed for the arbitration unless the parties have unanimously agreed that the mediator(s) will continue in that role.

During the pre-mediation phase, the case administrator will discuss with parties the transition process. The parties will be given the options of selecting an arbitrator prior to the start of mediation, continuing with the mediator as arbitrator, or postponing that decision until the conclusion of the mediation.

Scheduling a mediation/arbitration process is also discussed with the case administrator as part of the pre-mediation phase. Parties can elect to schedule the mediation and then, if necessary, schedule the arbitration at the conclusion of the mediation. The parties may also decide to schedule the processes to occur successively.