Every church will experience conflicts. How a church handles these inevitable conflicts determines its future and the spiritual health of its members. If properly approached, church conflicts can be used for spiritual growth--both individually and corporately as the body of Christ. Redeeming church conflicts--making something glorious out of something awful--provides evidence to a watching world that the gospel is real and powerful.
In this purposeful and practical book, two church-conflict resolution experts take readers through the Acts 15 model of approaching conflict in order to help them understand the intricacies of their church conflict. The book provides a clear, godly way forward into redemptive reconciliation, regardless of how the people involved in the conflict respond or fail to respond.
Tara Klena Barthel is a former attorney and director of the Institute for Christian Conciliation, a division of Peacemaker® Ministries. Currently, she serves her family as a homemaker while occasionally accepting cases as a mediator, arbitrator, and conflicted church intervention team member. Tara is an instructor and Certified Christian Conciliator with Peacemaker Ministries and a consultant to businesses and Christian ministries resolving conflict. Tara and her family live in Montana.
David V. Edling is a former attorney and director at Peacemaker® Ministries. He has taught at several seminaries and served his country with distinction in both the US Navy and US Coast Guard officer corps, including multiple tours of duty in combat zones. He serves in the private practice of Christian conciliation through his church's reconciliation ministry. He and his wife, Pat, live in Colorado.
I pray that you will study this book carefully and apply its principles in your church with the love and power of Christ. In doing so, you can redeem church conflict, turning it into an opportunity for growth, worship, and kingdom expansion.
president of Peacemaker Ministries; author of The Peacemaker
Church conflict is a shameful thing--it hurts, divides, and besmirches the name of Christ. This volume does more than lament the problem. It digs deeply into the experience of the New Testament church to discover a model of forgiveness and redemption that can help the witness of the church to shine once again. May this book help to spawn a whole generation of Acts 15 churches.
founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University; general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture
Tara and David's guiding concept of 'responding redemptively' deeply resonates with me in my roles as a biblical counselor, pastor, seminary professor, and church consultant. Their understanding that the Bible doesn't provides a formula for redeeming church conflict but a biblical, relational road map, equally resonates. I'm encouraged and equipped, as I believe you will be, by their practical, scriptural wisdom. The gripping way that Tara and David unfold the Scripture-saturated relational principles of perspective, discernment, leadership, and biblical response provides a real-life narrative applicable to any church conflict.
-Dr. Bob Kellemen,
executive director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, author of Equipping Counselors for Your Church
In Redeeming Church Conflicts Tara Barthel and David Edling draw on their extensive experience helping brothers and sisters resolve serious divisions in ways that bring glory to Jesus, the prince of peace. Perhaps even more important than the wisdom they have gained from walking with congregations through conflict are the insights that they draw from God's Word itself and their confidence that a deepening grasp of the gospel of God's grace sets hearts free to seek and grant forgiveness and to find the humility to 'maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' Believers and church leaders should read and take to heart the wisdom offered in Redeeming Church Conflicts not only when conflict threatens congregations, but also when peace prevails.
-Dennis E. Johnson,
professor of practical theology, Westminster Seminary, California
Conflict is inevitable, and Peacemaker Ministries is prepared to equip you to respond. I am excited about this new resource that specifically applies to dealing with conflict within the local church. Tara Barthel and David Edling do the body of Christ a significant service in Redeeming Church Conflicts. As a former pastor, I commend this helpful, practical resource to you. Have your staff and your entire church read this book. It will go a long way in creating a culture of peacemaking in your church.
-Dr. Tim S. Lane,
president of Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation
Church conflict often ends with Christ's name slandered, the church split, and members bitter and hopeless. Redeeming Church Conflicts is that rare book that proves what it promises by showing how the gospel truly affords the church in conflict means of redeeming the seemingly irredeemable. Taking Acts 15 as both an instructive and informative model for redeeming church conflict, the authors illustrate and reinforce their counsel by many and varied case studies aptly demonstrating how to apply redemptive principles of peacemaking. Combining deep, practical wisdom with an unswerving vision of God's glory, Barthel and Edling call the church and its leaders to cast off sinful pragmatic approaches and redeem conflicts to the glory of God and his gospel.
author of The Peacemaking Pastor
Conflicts within the church strike at the heart of our witness to the world, and yet there are very few rigorously biblical resources available on this topic. Dave Edling and Tara Barthel have seamlessly woven together their unique perspectives and lessons learned from many years of working with conflicted churches. More importantly, this book is soundly biblical from beginning to end, with a practical, gospel-centered approach to disputes within the church--large and small. It should be a required text for every seminary student, and it will certainly be a lifeline for every church leader facing difficult conflict situations.
attorney, certified Christian conciliator, and president of Birmingham Theological Seminary
With delight I commend this much-needed contribution to the field of church conflict intervention from my church conciliation mentor Dave Edling and his colleague Tara Barthel. More than once Dave's clear model has guided me in helping churches in crisis (e.g., that we need to start with God's perspective on this conflict and that leaders must proactively rise up and lead the congregation with biblical wisdom amid conflict). Few writers so richly blend sound theology with seasoned ministry experience, all in a readable case-wise manual that will aid church leaders on all levels. Thank you, Tara and Dave, for helping us help others.
-Robert D. Jones,
biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, church conflict interventionist, and author of Uprooting Anger and Pursuing Peace in All Your Relationships
Redeeming Church Conflicts is biblical, insightful, and practical--based on wisdom born of faithful service to the Lord and a keen understanding of people. Barthel and Edling present a framework for conflict resolution that honors God and redeems what is often times very destructive. Much personal heartache and wounding in Christian ministry could be avoided if church leaders would follow this hermeneutically sound counsel.
-Dr. Andrew S. Zeller, president, Sangre de Cristo Seminary; Chaplain (COL) U.S. Army (Ret.)
I wish I had to wonder why a book like this is even needed. But anyone who has spent much time in a church populated by imperfect humans knows that it is. This book delivers exactly what is needed in church conflict: a wealth of biblical wisdom and professional expertise as well as an unflinching challenge toward self-examination and away from angry entrenchment and graceless condemnation. But best of all it offers a huge dose of hope that what is so hurtful and seems only destructive will be used by God to conform his church to his image for his glory.
-Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher and author of the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible Study series
Dave Edling and Tara Barthel build on their passion for the gospel, people, and peacemaking to bring believers a practical and insightful guide for responding redemptively in the midst of church conflict. The authors' personal experience, wisdom, and biblical faithfulness make this book a must read for anyone who cries out: 'My church is locked in conflict! What can I do?
reconciliation specialist, founder of Live at Peace Ministries
Looking around at the modern church landscape, it can sometimes seem like bitter irony that the Bible says the manifold wisdom of God is to be shown through his church (Eph. 3:10)--so many conflicts, so many church splits, so many factions! And yet we serve a God who is rich in mercy and does not give up on us. If you find yourself in the midst of church conflict, this book will be a balm to your soul and revive your confidence in the work of the Holy Spirit among his people. Tara Barthel and David Edling have written a wise and tender reminder that our Lord's redemptive purposes extend even today to the most fractious church bodies. Whether you are an ordained leader or a new church member, Redeeming Church Conflicts is a must read. It will give you hope that whatever conflicts you are currently in, or will encounter in the future, can be resolved in a holy and purposeful manner to the praise of God's glory.
author of Radical Womanhood and Did I Kiss Marriage
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