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Why A "Learning To Live At Peace" Seminar

    For 10 years, I was a practicing attorney, who specialized in litigation. For another 5 years, I was a judge of a litigation court. Since 1982, first as an attorney and then as a minister of reconciliation, I have been engaged in teaching and assisting Christians to resolve legal and relational conflicts through confrontation, mediation, and arbitration, using lay members of the Body of Christ rather than attorneys and courts.
    My wife, Ellen, and I have developed and conducted numerous times a seminar entitled "Learning To Live At Peace". The seminar is ideal for churches, communities, ministries, colleges and businesses. This pamphlet is to describe what the seminar is, and why we believe it is needed.
        First, however, I want to talk about REVIVAL. Have you considered that revival generally begins from public confession and/or public forgiveness? But that which is done publicly, as a testimony, must have originated in a private setting of reconciliation. Every time a person re reconciles with God, or reconciles with another person, revival is a possible by product. Every dispute we have — relational or legal — produces possibilities for reconciliation.

Businesses in conflict, people in auto accidents, employer employee relations, worker's compensation, buyer seller, and separation and divorce — one in every 15 men, women and children in the U.S. today are in some form of legal conflict! The atmosphere for reconciliation is found in the church — not the law courts — and the church is given authority over our disputes — not the courts. (I Cor. 6:1 8; Matt. 5:23 26; Matt. 18:12 35)

But, if we are to take advantage of the opportunity conflict gives the church, people must be taught the need to bring their disputes to the church. Once having been taught the need, the members of the church must be trained and equipped to receive the disputes and minister to the parties’ sense of lack of justice, their anger, bitterness and frustration, and turn that into confession, forgiveness, reconciliation and testimony.

During my years as attorney and judge, I saw people emotionally, spiritually, financially, and physically destroyed. I never found "justice", and I felt that I never did "justice". I never saw healing or revival. But I have seen peace, healing, and revival from Christians who have determined to deal with conflict according to the Lord's commands.

I hope you will consider the seminar for your church, college, community, ministry or business. The goals of the "LEARNING TO LIVE AT PEACE" seminar are that:
      1. People's hearts may become burdened for the healing of relationships;
      2. People will seek healing of the fractured relationships of their past;
      3. People will practice reconciliation attitudes and techniques in the future;
      4. People will become encouragers of others to practice reconciliation; and
      5. People will assist their church leadership in helping others.
        For this program to be meaningful to the church and community, the sponsors must be convicted that there is a great need — that lawsuits and fractured relationships are causing great spiritual, emotional, financial, and physical harm. Without this conviction, and the sponsors crying out to their friends to become trained and equipped, people will not come to the seminar.

One way to help others discover the extent of conflict would be to have your church use the following bulletin insert one Sunday morning:


The leadership of your church is aware that hundreds of thousands of Christians become involved in legal and/or relational disputes every year. We also know these disputes take a high emotional, spiritual, and financial toll on people. We know we are often not giving a good witness to the world which watches us. And we know the Bible tells us how we should deal with conflict.

In order to consider what this church can do to lessen the impact of the conflicts which we each face — personal, business, social, criminal, etc. — we want you to see the size of the problem. Please take a moment to answer these questions, and then drop this form in the offering plate.
      #1 Do you presently have, or have you had within the past year, any major legal or other conflict with: spouse ____; parent ____; sibling ____; other relative ____; in laws ____; employer ____; employees ____; neighbors ____; church member ____; the state (misdemeanor or felony) ____; customers ____; business person ____; professional person ____; landlord or tenant ____; government unit ____; other ____ (include auto accidents or worker's compensation or other matters handled largely by insurance).
      #2 Do you feel that any of the people with whom you had a dispute (or anyone else) has wronged you, slandered you, or owes you money? ____
      #3 Do you know of someone who has something against you (whether rightly or wrongly) or who feel you wronged them or owe them something? ____
      #4 Relative to a dispute, have you, in the past 3 years: consulted an attorney or a collection agency ____; received a letter from an attorney or collection agency ____; been in a lawsuit ____?
      #5 In any of these conflicts, did you know or seek to determine if the other party was a Christian or church member? ____
      #6 Are you satisfied that you know how to deal with conflict in a manner which would glorify God? _____
      #7 If you knew someone who was in legal or personal conflict, would you be able to help them in a way honoring to God? ____
        Another need is for the sponsors to believe that the laity, with training, are capable of helping one another through conflict and to reconciliation. Whether it is for waiting tables (Acts 6:1 7), or helping others in conflicts, our Lord Jesus Christ has gifted us with gifts. Let's encourage their use for the building up of the Body!

Another need is to exhort the wise and mature in Christ to attend, as well as the general membership of the Body of Christ. This is done by personal contact — phoning and seeking out. One thing is absolutely indispensable: the lead pastor in any church, or the head of the college, ministry, or business — that is, the one to whom others look for spiritual leadership — should openly endorse the program, plan on attending, and encourage all under their authority and influence to come and be trained. I am also available for a Sunday morning, or Sunday or Wednesday evening to share on the subject.

The Seminar can also be promoted through a bulletin insert such as the following:


Every year, thousands of Christians become embroiled in some form of conflict — marital, business, etc. Some conflicts are legal, some merely personal, and some are both. They find themselves confused by what is happening, unable to see "justice", and getting angry at their opponent. Yet, the Bible speaks loudly to how Christians should resolve conflicts.

A seminar for people who want to learn how to resolve conflicts Biblically, to heal their broken relationships, and to help others in similar situations will be held at (name of church) from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm on Fri., (date), and from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sat., (date).

The teacher will be William Bontrager. Bill practiced law in Indiana for 12 years, served as Judge for 5 years, was chairman of the Indiana Board of Correction and a consultant to Prison Fellowship. His story may be found at Chapter 16 of Loving God, by Chuck Colson. Since 1983, Bill has conducted many of these seminars, training thousands of lay and professional people, and pastors, while also helping people, churches and ministries in conflict to resolve matters without lawsuits. Bill has also taught law in the former Soviet Union for over 5 years, integrating his teachings on conflict resolution with legal theory and practice.
        Cost of the program is "negotiable", payable at the door. You will need a sack lunch for Saturday. Register by mailing this form to ____________________________. And, invite your friends!!

As for the training itself, here is a general outline, which can be tailored to the needs and desires of the sponsor:



















Friday Night 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
LECTURE I: Conflict: Good, Bad, or Neutral

Forgiveness: Not a Total Response
The Church: Why It Should But Often Doesn't

LECTURE II: Waking Up To Conflict: 3 Ways
Dealing With Conflict Biblically

Saturday 9:00 am to noon
LECTURE III: Attributes of a Peacemaker
Analyzing a Case — Legally and Spiritually


Participants are broken into groups of six — 3 peacemakers (who have no
facts) and 3 parties who have 2 pages of facts. Peacemakers are given two
hours to discover the facts and significance of the facts.


Saturday noon -- Sack Lunch

Saturday -- 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

LECTURE IV: Preparing Parties to Meet and Reconcile

Groups re convene another 2 hours for the peacemakers to discover how
to prepare the parties to confront one another, confess their own faults, forgive
the other their faults, and minister to the needs of the parties.


LECTURE VI: The Celebration Where Do We Go From Here?

Compensation for the program is "negotiable" (teens welcome!), with no one to be turned away who is in need and unable to pay.

Seminars can be conducted for a single church. However, we like to see many churches in the community go together in sponsorship — an act which, by itself, displays unity and reconciliation.
    William D. Bontrager, J.D. and Ellen Bontrager
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