Interpersonal as Sacred: Mediation in Christian Communities
Updated: Dec 27, 2020
A priest friend of mine recently told me how, whilst at theological college, she had spent untold hours studying Aquinas, Ancient Greek and Christian ethics, to name but a few. All, no doubt, were rich and critical learning for any priest in training. But what no one prepared her for, she said, was how to persuade her “somewhat obstinate” Parochial Church Council of the pressing need to tackle the church’s guttering, and how to overcome the disagreements that followed.
Another clergy friend at the coal face mentioned that her job often felt more akin the chief executive of a small charity. Both roles depend on building and maintaining a complex web of relationships in order to keep things moving.
This sense of feeling underprepared for the full reality of one’s role is of course natural and impossible to resolve entirely, but there is plenty that we can do to better prepare clergy and those in positions of church leadership to nip conflict in the bud and to develop more trusting and collaborative relationships.
Part of the problem is that we rarely think of communication and relationship building as skills in and of themselves that deserve and demand study and practise - a fallacy also reflected in many secular organisations as well as our broader culture.
Consequently, we tend not to recognise and reward outstanding practitioners, thus creating a vicious circle that is hard to break. And yet these tools, in practice, seem to form much of the foundation for everything that clergy and the broader church seek to be and do in their communities. Whether that be organising the next quinquennial process, reconciling honest differences of opinion on difficult topics, or, yes, securing agreement to mend
My experience as a mediator (and veteran church musician) is that communication and inter-personal tools underpin the cause that clergy and all those in positions of responsibility hold most dear: drawing people closer to Jesus.
In sum, Khuba Reconciliation’s cause is to support you to fulfil that mission.
I invite you to join Khuba and be part of this renaissance of the inter-personal. Let’s commit to sharpening our communication tools for the tough winter that lies ahead, and to continue polishing the lens through which we perceive our fellow humans with greater self-awareness, insight and compassion.
Each fortnight I’ll offer ideas, tools and real life examples to support you and your colleagues in ministry. Please do get in touch with your comments and hard-won wisdom. It would be great to hear from you! And please feel free to share this post with others.