Jesus called us to be peacemakers. He said such people prove they really are sons of God (Matthew 5:9). What does peacemaking look like at Westside? Each member and regular attendee involved in service with us signs the following policy. This statement summarizes some basic, biblical truths about conflict resolution.
Westside Baptist Church Conflict Resolution Policy
1. Commitment to Protect Our Children
a. Sin affects everyone. It is possible that children could be harmed even during church activities. We cannot guarantee that such things will never happen. However, we will take every reasonable precaution to protect our children. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
i. No one will work regularly with our youth (children or teenagers) until he or she has regularly attended Westside for at least six months, unless our elders have acceptable references that negate this waiting period.
ii. All our youth workers will offer references and be willing to have a background check.
iii. Whenever possible, youth workers will serve in teams and be visible to other workers.
b. If a child is harmed in Westside, we will take immediate steps to inform the parents, accept responsibility for our role in the situation, and hold offending workers responsible for their actions. We will also evaluate our practices and procedures, considering changes that might reduce the likelihood of such harm to children in the future.
2. Commitment to Biblical Confidentiality:
The Bible teaches that we must guard personal and private information that others reveal to us. (Proverbs 11:13; 20:19; 25:9; Matt. 7:12) Therefore, all members and attendees are expected to refrain from gossip and respect the confidences of others. In particular, to prevent our elders from compromising their pastoral work, we agree that we will not try to compel them to testify in legal proceedings or otherwise divulge confidential information received through counseling or ministry. When our elders or counselors appointed by them believe it is biblically necessary, they may disclose confidential information to appropriate people in the following circumstances: to obtain help from fellow leaders in counseling someone; in cases of imminent danger or suspected abuse; or if there is a need to begin the church discipline process with a person, as defined in Matthew 18:15-17.
3. Commitment to Refrain from Civil Courts:
When we have a business or legal dispute with another Christian, we will make every reasonable effort to resolve the conflict within the body of Christ through biblical mediation or arbitration, rather than going to civil court (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). If the other party attends another church, our elders will cooperate with the leaders of that church to resolve the matter. If we have a legal dispute with or within our church and cannot resolve it internally through the steps in our bylaws and this policy, we will obey God’s command not to go to civil court. Instead, we will submit the matter to mediation and, if necessary, legally binding arbitration. We will entrust arbitration to a board of three fellow Christians selected mutually by each party and our elders. The membership can vote to suspend any part of this policy in unusual circumstances.
4. Commitment Not to Impede Accountability:
Our natural human response to correction is often to hide or run away from accountability (Gen. 3:3-10). To avoid this age-old trap and strengthen our church’s ability to rescue us if we are caught in sin, we agree not to impede our church’s practice of corrective discipline against us. If we withdraw from membership during the discipline process, we will not try to stop that process through secular entities (including civil courts). Although we may stop attending Westside at any time, we agree that the church must fulfill its God-given responsibilities to encourage our repentance and restoration, and to bring the disciplinary process to an orderly conclusion, as described in our bylaws and this policy (Matt. 18:12-14; Gal. 6:1; Heb. 13:17).
5. Commitment to Warn Fellow Churches:
We affirm that sometimes a member’s actions are so serious we must warn fellow churches. Therefore, if someone leaves our church while discipline is in effect or is being considered, the elders may recommend to the membership that we warn other churches. That recommendation must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote. The elders may then ask churches to encourage the person’s repentance and reconciliation. Whether as a member facing discipline or as a former member, we will not try to stop such warnings through secular entities (including civil courts). This action is intended both to help the individual find freedom from sin and to warn other churches about the harm that he or she might do to their members (see Matt. 18:12-14; Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 5:1-13; 3 John 1:9-10).
6. In order to live more by the biblical values summarized in our bylaws, I support and submit to these commitments.
You can’t avoid conflict forever, but you can choose how you will handle it. We are committed to making Biblical Peace Making a priority. We use the resources from Peacemaker Ministries to help equip Christians to respond to conflict in a biblical manner.