What is Christian mediation?
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 an independent third party facilitating the resolution of the dispute between the parties. This covers both the material and relational issues that are involved.
One of the major differences between secular mediation and Christian mediation is that 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 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 does normally take place, but alongside 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.
This is 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).
If you would like us to refer you to mediators who have been trained to use a Christian mediation process, please contact us. We will be honoured to assist you in arranging a mediation of this kind.
What types of conflict does PeaceWise get involved with?
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
- case administration: $80/hour
- number of hours depends on case complexity, normally 3-4 hours for simple cases
Note: PeaceWise also charges a case referral fee which it takes out of the mediator’s fee, but which is not charged separately to the client.
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
Total case costs, based on two mediators
Many cases involving two parties will cost between $4,000 and $6,000 + expenses.
More involved cases involving two to four parties generally cost between $6,000 to $10,000 + expenses.
Multi-party and complex cases will commonly cost between $10,000 and $25,000 + expenses depending on number of parties, complexity and amount of time required.
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 address 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).
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.
*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.
Get trained in Christian mediation!
PeaceWise offers Mediation courses to enable you to develop skills in this area.
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. Here’s 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 very badly, and we were unaware the case was taking place. This caused unjustified 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.
Thanks so much!!