Sometimes, a conflict between parties has been ongoing for such a length of time or has escalated to such a point that private resolution between the two parties is not possible. In these circumstances, Christian mediation may help the parties deal with the issues and reach some healthy conclusion.
Mediation involves independent third parties (the mediators) helping to resolve the conflict or dispute between the parties.
This covers both the material and relational issues that are involved.
how is PeaceWise’s approach to mediation different?
One of the major differences between secular mediation and Christian mediation is that much secular mediation tends to focus on ‘cutting a deal’ and reaching a settlement. This is often done through a process of positional bargaining. This can leave the parties feeling that whilst a deal may have been reached, much of the real underlying conflict, and perhaps even some wrong conduct of the other party, was left largely unaddressed.
Christian mediation is different. It gives prime importance not just to resolution of material issues, but also to the relational issues that normally are central to any conflict. Issues of wrongful conduct, sin and justice are addressed, as parties are encouraged to own their own harmful or hurtful or wrong behaviour as well as address the wrongs of others. But also principles of love, mercy and forgiveness are introduced into the process.
Negotiation over material issues will typically take place, but within the context of seeking to restore the relationship as well.
We seek to encourage parties to approach their conflict in God pleasing ways and to allow the word of God and the power of Christ to work to soften hearts and allow reconciliation to occur.
PeaceWise strongly supports the role of the local church in helping Christians respond to conflict, and provides training to equip gifted people in the local church to fulfil this role of mediator between parties – see Matthew 18:16.
tell me more about the actual process you use
Mediators recommended by PeaceWise use a fully structured mediation process that has the following core elements:
– Greeting and ground rules
make introductions and agree how we will work together
– Opening statements
ask each party to briefly explain what he or she hopes will happen out of the mediation
help each party to tell their story and hear the other party’s perspective
-Problem identification and clarification
clearly define central issues and interests
brainstorm options, evaluate them reasonably and objectively
-Lead to agreement
encourage and document things that the parties agree on and what they will each do
Click here to see the typical Mediation Agreement which will be used where the parties are referred to mediators by PeaceWise. This includes the detailed Rules of Procedure which will apply in a mediation. (Please note that you should obtain legal advice before independently using or adapting this agreement).
what kind of cases do you work with and who are your mediators?
The cases we’ve arranged have involved conflicts and disputes in workplaces, schools, churches, denominations, businesses, colleges, media organisations, ministries, charities, families and individuals.
They have spanned anywhere from two parties to twenty parties.
Some conflicts have related to recent events and others to events spanning many years and even multiple countries.
All the mediators we recommend have done PeaceWise mediation training and use the Christian mediation method we teach. They typically are engaged as independent contractors to work on cases while we arrange the initial case intake and establishment. They are lawyers, counsellors, pastors and ministers, denominational and ministry leaders, business people, educationalists – and even one geologist.
We always seek to recommend mediators whose experience and professional or personal background (which may include matters such as gender, age, racial background and faith context) makes them suitable for the particular case in question.
why do you use two mediators?
PeaceWise has found that having two mediators involved brings enormous benefits to the parties, and also provides accountability for the mediators as well. Therefore, we use a co-mediation model.
what costs are involved?
PeaceWise is committed to dealing with both the material AND relational issues involved in a conflict.
We don’t believe this can be done through a single meeting where the parties are brought together with no prior preparation and encouraged to ‘reach agreement’ in a limited timeframe. Such outcomes typically are short-lived and leave relationships no better and often worse.
For this reason, there are some features to the way that PeaceWise approaches mediation which do impact on cost, as follows:
- Our strong preference is for two mediators rather than one:
- We typically meet privately with parties twice before the mediation occurs, to help prepare them for the mediation. These meetings make a SIGNIFICANT difference to the likelihood of a positive mediation outcome
- We want to allow sufficient time for issues to be worked through at a deeper level and not superficially
Having said this, the following guidance can be given – but EVERY case is different and in each case a detailed fee estimate will be provided:
|case establishment fee||$325 plus GST|
Number of hours depends on case complexity,
normally 3-4 hours for simple cases
|mediator fees||Vary depending on mediator and nature of case, |
but normally between $60 to $250 per mediator per hour.
Some mediators charge GST, others do not.
|expenses||at cost – eg. travel, accommodation etc|
typical total case costs, based on two mediators
Vary depending on mediator and nature of case, but normally between $60 to $250 per mediator per hour. Some mediators charge GST, others do not.
|cases involving two parties||Between $4,000 and $6,000 + expenses|
|cases involving two to four parties||Between $6,000 to $10,000 + expenses|
|multi-party and complex cases||Between $10,000 and $25,000 + expenses|
In all cases, PeaceWise and the mediators are highly conscious of seeking to keep the mediation as affordable as possible. At the same time, we try not to cut corners which reduce the likelihood of lasting positive outcomes.
We always seek to make the mediation as affordable as we can, recognising the significant mediator and administrative time commitments normally involved.
The costs of a mediation process should always be weighed against the alternatives, including:
- litigation (always much more costly, with great uncertainty of outcome and little likelihood of relational issues being addressed and typically not consistent with Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 6:1-8)* or
- doing nothing (with consequences such as ongoing relational or organisational damage, often including significant financial and health implications as well).
how do I proceed if I’m interested?
- Read this page (including the FAQ’s below) so you understand the Christian mediation process which PeaceWise supports
- Send us your enquiry form (see below) so we can liaise with you to discuss your situation, confirm it’s a suitable case for mediation, and then seek to connect you with mediators
- We’ll then proceed with some forms and payment and the mediation can begin.
make a mediation enquiry
will the conflict always get resolved?
We have seen many amazing reconciliations where God has worked to restore parties’ relationships in miraculous ways.
At other times, more limited progress may be made. For example parties may still part company (eg. a workplace scenario), however the parting is on a much better basis than if no mediation had happened. Sometimes, parties’ hearts are very hard, and little real progress can be made at all.
Whilst PeaceWise can never guarantee the result of a mediation, a Christian mediation process does allow parties to hear each other, address both material and relational issues in a structured and safe way, and open the possibility of issues being addressed constructively rather than through a ‘win/lose’ process.
who are PeaceWise mediators?
Mediators recommended by PeaceWise:
• are Christian;
• will be using the Bible and praying during the mediation process;
• will be encouraging and challenging parties to reflect on their attitudes and
behaviour (and for those who consider themselves Christians – what the Bible/God has to say about the conflict).
Their professional experience is diverse – they may be teachers, nurses, counsellors, ministers, lawyers, geologists, denominational leaders, mission leaders, accountants, architects or have any many of other backgrounds.
PeaceWise does not employ any mediators but rather administers, supports and recommends mediators we believe will be appropriate when it receives a request to provide an assisted peacemaking service. Thus, the legal relationship for any assisted peacemaking service is between the parties/engaging organisational stakeholder/third party and the mediators themselves and not directly with PeaceWise.
Mediators are recommended on their personal availability and the basis of what PeaceWise believes is the “best fit” for the parties. But in each case we are trying to find a good match for your particular case. Accordingly it may take PeaceWise some time to locate suitable mediators after determining a conflict is one where PeaceWise can serve.
what do parties have to do?
Participation of any person in any PeaceWise assisted mediation service means they agree to:
•prioritise the scheduling and attending of meetings amidst their other commitments;
•complete any preparatory/homework in a timely way and providing this to the mediator when requested ;
•seriously self-reflect on their own contribution to the conflict;
• abide by the requests/facilitation/direction of the mediators and the Rules of Procedure;
•pay all the relevant fees (if not agreed to be paid by an organisational stakeholder/third party); and
•complete an evaluation on the performance of the mediators at the conclusion of the process
I want to be trained in Christian mediation!
PeaceWise offers Mediation courses to enable you to develop skills in this area.
Head to the PeaceWiseYou page of our website to find out more.
if I’ve done mediation training with PeaceWise, can PeaceWise help me get professional indemnity insurance if I want to work as a mediator?
PeaceWise doesn’t offer insurance, and can’t give any insurance advice.
However, we have worked very hard with professional insurance brokers Marsh to help people who want to actually do biblical peacemaking have access to affordable insurance cover. Head to the insurance page in the menu above for the full details of the cover which is available and how to obtain it. The insurance is offered by Vero Insurance Limited, and PeaceWise receives NO commission or other fees if you take it out – however you do need to have completed up to our mediation level of training to be eligible.
if I’ve done mediation training with PeaceWise, can I call myself a “PeaceWise mediator”?
If you do our mediation training, you will be able to use what you have learned immediately in helping others in informal mediation contexts – eg. church, work, family, friends. For certain people who do our training who are identified by us as having particular gifts and aptitude, we may raise with you the possibility of being involved in actual PeaceWise cases either to observe or ultimately to mediate.
However, if the situation is only that you have attended our training, then to say “I’m PeaceWise trained” or “I’m a PeaceWise mediator” can give people the impression that you are in some way accredited by PeaceWise, or that a mediation is being administered by PeaceWise, when this is not the case. An analogy might be to attend St John’s first aid training and then to say you were an official St John’s aid officer.
We have had some rare cases where parties thought that they had “official” mediators provided by PeaceWise when this wasn’t true, the case went badly, and we were unaware the case was taking place. This caused damage to our reputation and left the parties badly served by someone without the necessary experience or skills for the case in question. It generally hurts the mediator too – because taking a serious case without proper experience and backup can leave a mediator badly affected too.
So, we want to avoid this outcome for everyone.
If you have only attended training, then the best way is to tell people your actual background and experience. This may include saying you have done a PeaceWise mediation training course.
However please do be clear about whether you are operating privately or whether the case is an official case operating under PeaceWise’s supervision. And please make sure you don’t give people the impression that you have some kind of official approval, qualification or standing with PeaceWise if that is in fact not the case. 😉
Sometimes there may be circumstances where a conflict needs the involvement of third parties who are Christian to decide on material issues that are in dispute.
The circumstances may be extremely tense – for example, where the relationship has not been able to be reconciled. Or it may simply be a case that the parties who have a different view over a matter would like one or more third parties who are Christian to adjudicate a matter for them.
In either case, there remain material decisions that need to be made – eg. custody of children, liability for damage to property, responsibility for financial loss, compensation for particular conduct etc.
The motivation in each case is the same – the parties’ desire not to bring the gospel of Jesus into disrepute by bringing a dispute before a secular court to decide – see 1 Corinthians 6: 1-8*. Instead, the parties seek to honour God by allowing the decision to be made by godly Christian people who are engaged to do this specific job.
The adjudicators may be from the parties’ church, or may be from outside it, or may be a mixture of both – sometimes even including people who have specialitst expertise in the subject matter of the dispute.
Whilst not uncommon in certain other countries (eg. the USA and New Zealand), this practice is rarely used by Christians within Australia. Nevertheless, PeaceWise encourages Christians who have material issues that they cannot resolve to use a biblical process of adjudication to have the matter decided, rather than take the matter to court.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss the possibility of PeaceWise arranging an adjudication of a dispute in which you are involved.
*For a much more detailed consideration of the practical outworkings of 1 Corinthians 6: 1-8, see Appendix D of The Peacemaker by Ken Sande – 3rd edition, Baker Books, 2004.