|Preparing Home Schoolers for Conflict|
by Annette Friesen
Conflict is inevitable. The apostle Peter reminds us, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Pet. 4:12). Conflicts will come. How we as believers respond to them—depending on our level of preparedness—may prevent them from developing further, or may allow them to progress into destructive sin. Will you and the homeschoolers you serve be prepared to respond in a way that glorifies God?
The Peacemaker Student Edition
Applies biblical principles to the conflicts teens face, helping to resolve those conflicts and bring about forgiveness and reconciliation.
Download Chapter 1
Being prepared for conflict means being deliberate about the preparation process. Romans 14:19 exhorts, "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Leaders of the Christian homeschool movement must seek to offer whatever resources and training are necessary to prepare homeschoolers for conflict—just as they would offer other events and services to encourage, equip, and train parents for the weighty tasks of teaching and discipling their children. Preparing people for conflict involves teaching biblical peacemaking principles, providing training in reconciliation skills and processes, and most importantly, cultivating a commitment to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). What can you do to bring this process about?
Be an Instrument of Change
As a leader in a Christian homeschool organization, and a homeschooler yourself, there are many ways you can help your board, your support group leaders, and the homeschoolers in your state learn to respond to conflict biblically. And in the process, you will strengthen your witness to Christ and improve your ability to minister to those you serve. Listed below are several steps you can take to start this process today.
Train Your Leadership
One way to be a good steward of your God-given responsibility to equip and encourage homeschoolers is to learn peacemaking yourself and introduce it to your organization's leaders. Some of the following ideas may be helpful in this process:
Guiding People Through Conflict
A succinct summary and application of biblical conflict resolution principles for those trying to assist other people who are struggling with conflict.
- Begin reading The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict. Set aside the time to read the Scriptures that are referenced. God will begin to deepen your understanding of how he desires to use conflict in the lives of his people.
- Next, read Guiding People through Conflict together as a board. This 40-page booklet will provide you with the foundational information to begin sharing and using biblical peacemaking principles with your support group leaders. In the process, you will have numerous opportunities to advise them on how to apply biblical peacemaking to conflicts in their areas.
- If your state offers weekend retreats or other specialized leadership training for their leaders, invite a presenter from Peacemaker Ministries to come and help you share these principles further. (Contact Annette Friesen, Home School Specialist for Peacemaker Ministries, at afriesen@Peacemaker.net for further information.)
- Take every opportunity to teach your support group leaders the principles summarized in the Peacemaker Brochure. Provide them with several copies of the brochure to hand out to their home schooling families, and explain that it is a concise and simple way to introduce parents to the basic principles of biblical peacemaking.
Invite a Speaker from Peacemaker Ministries to Your State Convention
No matter the culture, language, or place, people all over the world are profoundly impacted by the powerful principles of peacemaking found in God's Word. If no one has spoken about biblical peacemaking at your state convention, we encourage you to pursue this opportunity. Ken Sande, founder of Peacemaker Ministries, and Annette Friesen, the ministry's Home School Specialist, have presented keynote addresses and workshops about peacemaking at several home school conventions. These presentations are some of the most effective ways to introduce peacemaking to the homeschoolers in your state. (For more information, see Speaking Engagement Topics, or contact Annette Friesen at afriesen@Peacemaker.net.)
Take Advantage of Real-Life Applications
Approach disputes in your homeschool community as divinely arranged "homework assignments." If you are a party in a conflict, make it a point to diligently apply the peacemaking principles you have learned, which can serve as an example to others. As a homeschool leader, you have the privilege of serving as a reconciler to help others understand and obey what God says about resolving conflict. If you are bystander in a dispute, prayerfully consider how God might use you to guide the parties down the path of biblical peacemaking. A few words of sound biblical advice is often all others need to handle a conflict constructively.
Encourage Gifted People to Take Reconciler Training
To further enhance your ministry and your ability to guide homeschoolers through conflict, encourage spiritually gifted leaders in your state or organization to take Peacemaker Ministries' Training. Upon completing the self-study levels, those who desire further training can attend the level 3 and 4 live training, hands-on training events designed to equip Christians to carry out personal peacemaking, conflict coaching, and mediation. How exciting it would be to have people in your state (and every state!) trained and ready to provide biblical conflict resolution among homeschooling families. This would strengthen the witness and testimony of homeschoolers all across your state.
Keep Informed with the Web Site
This web site is specifically designed to give you helpful, detailed information, so you can begin applying biblical principles of peacemaking in your life and in the lives of others. Full of practical advice, it is so thorough that many who call our ministry can often go directly to our web site to find the help they need immediately. The homeschooling section features articles for your state and support group newsletters. Becoming familiar with our web site will help you find the information you need and guide others to the specific areas that will help them.
Put Conciliation Clauses in Organizational Bylaws
Many homeschool organizations, from the state level to the local level, are very reluctant to get involved in their members' conflicts, because they fear getting tangled in destructive lawsuits. Although such fears are often exaggerated, it is wise for these organizations to implement policies and procedures that direct their members toward Christian conciliation (rather than litigation) in the event of conflict. One of the best ways to make sure that conflict is resolved constructively is for an organization to include conciliation clauses in its contracts. These clauses are legally enforceable and require that any dispute related to the contract be resolved through biblically-based mediation or arbitration rather than litigation. More information on conciliation clauses, including sample clauses, can be found in our Guidelines for Christian Conciliation.
Obtain Assistance through Conflict Intervention
If your efforts to resolve conflict biblically do not seem to be fruitful, it may be time to seek assistance from trained consultants who can help you or your group to break the cycle of conflict. Peacemaker Ministries is a national leader in training Christian conciliators to apply biblical peacemaking to group conflicts. For more information about conflict intervention, click on Get Help.
Please do not hesitate to contact Peacemaker Ministries for more information on peacemaking resources and services, or for advice on how to teach and apply God's peacemaking principles. We believe that homeschoolers, being as visible as they are in today's society, have a unique opportunity to testify to God's grace through their response to the daily occurrences of conflict. Join us in helping others learn about the power principles of biblical conflict resolution found in God's Word. We look forward to assisting you as you strive to serve others!
Annette Friesen is the Home School Specialist for Peacemaker Ministries, an international ministry committed to equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically. Rick and Annette graduated all three children from home schooling. They have been support group leaders, convention coordinators, and served on three state homeschooling boards. Rick and Annette currently work for Peacemaker Ministries and make their home in Billings, Montana.