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:
People's hearts may become burdened for the
healing of relationships;
People will seek healing of the fractured
relationships of their past;
People will practice reconciliation
attitudes and techniques in the future;
People will become encouragers of others to
practice reconciliation; and
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.
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
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? ____
Do you know of someone who has something
against you (whether rightly or wrongly) or who feel you wronged them or owe
them something? ____
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 ____?
In any of these conflicts, did you know or
seek to determine if the other party was a Christian or church member? ____
Are you satisfied that you know how to deal
with conflict in a manner which would glorify God? _____
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:
LEARNING TO LIVE AT PEACE
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
As for the training itself, here is a general outline, which can be tailored to the needs and desires of the sponsor:
LEARNING TO LIVE AT PEACE SCHEDULE
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
ROLE PLAY: FINDING THE FACTS:
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.
SHARING WHAT WE ARE SEEING: Group Discussion
Saturday noon -- Sack Lunch
Saturday -- 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
LECTURE IV: Preparing Parties to Meet and Reconcile
ROLE PLAY: PREPARING THE PARTIES:
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 V: RESOLVING AND RESTORING:
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
All Rights Reserved © 2002