Informed Consent (Pg. 2)
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Based on its experience in mediating and arbitrating lawsuits against churches, Peacemaker Ministries has developed model "RelationalCommitments." These are designed so that churches can clearly establish their own Scripture-based policies on conflict resolution, divorce, counseling methodology, confidentiality, and church discipline (see a sample document at www.Peacemaker.net/Risk_Management).
By updating your governing documents with these kinds of provisions, you can strengthen your ability to obey God's command to restore straying sheep, while simultaneously reducing your church's exposure to legal threats.
Ken Sande is an attorney who serves as president of Peacemaker® Ministries (www.Peacemaker.net), which provides training, educational resources, and conciliation services to churches, ministries, and individuals around the globe. He is also the author of The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Baker Books, 3rd Ed. 2004), and has written numerous other resources on biblical peacemaking and legal risk management.
1Here is a sample provision from one of our model relational commitments: "We realize that our natural human response to correction often is to hide or run away from accountability (Gen. 3:8-10). To avoid falling into this age-old trap and to strengthen our church's ability to rescue us if we are caught in sin, we agree not to run away from this church to avoid corrective discipline. Therefore, we waive our right to withdraw from membership or accountability if discipline is pending against us. Although we are free to stop attending the church at any time, we agree that a withdrawal while discipline is pending will not be given effect until the church has fulfilled its God-given responsibilities to encourage our repentance and restoration, and to bring the disciplinary process to an orderly conclusion (Matt. 18:12-14; Gal. 6:1; Heb. 13:17)."
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