People often ask me how I can stand to do divorce mediation. Actually, I find divorce mediation easier than church mediation. In divorce mediation, the parties tend to focus on two things: money and kids. Both parties have to have money to live on and both usually want what is best for the kids, though they may have different ideas as to what that is. But at least one can expect both parties to care about the kids and care about having enough money to live on.
Church Mediation is different. People fight about a zillion things and they may fight long and hard but may not realize what they’re fighting about. So when mediating in churches it takes a lot more time to “unpack” the reasons behind the dispute. People may fight about the color of the sanctuary but not know why it is so important. You can dig and dig to find out that someone’s mother told them she liked blue sanctuaries and that all sanctuaries should be blue.
Like the above example, often times these reasons are from childhood and are near or at the core of their being. They may have never even examined WHY they believe what they believe, even though they believe it very strongly. A stray remark in childhood a parent makes about marriage, or gays or even “fat” people can be the makings of a severe conflict decades later. It may make the fight seem trivial to an outsider or to the mediator but for the participants in the fight it is anything but trivial. That makes searching for the real reason and real dispute in church mediation tough and hence church mediation much harder than that of divorce mediation.