The Procedure for Conflict Resolution (the Procedure) sets out a procedure for resolving conflict between two or more staff, volunteers, members or attenders of the Church in a pastoral and restorative manner, rather than through a formal complaint handling procedure.
It is important to identify that some issues cannot be resolved in this manner and this Procedure is not designed to:
- Resolve issues relating to domestic violence, family law matters before the Family Law Court (or similar body),
- Resolve complaints or concerns relating to abuse (including Child Sexual Abuse or Sexual Misconduct involving a child), or other serious breaches of the Code of Conduct that are to be resolved in accordance with the Complaint Handling Procedure, or
- Replace any process set out in the Constitution of the Church in relation to the disciplining or removal of members from membership of the Church.
The procedure applies to all staff, volunteers, members and attendees of the Church.
An attendee is a person who regularly attends (at least once a month) a ministry of the church (for example – Sunday worship, home group, youth group etc).
The Procedure should be read in conjunction with the Safe Church Policy and
- Leaders Code of Conduct
- Volunteers Code of Conduct
- Procedure for Handling Complaints against Staff or Volunteers
- Procedure for Responding to Child Protection Concerns
When does this procedure apply?
Situations to which this policy applies include the following:
- A disagreement between two or more staff, volunteers, members or attenders of the Church;
- A perceived offence caused by a staff member, volunteer, member or attendee to another;
- A perception by one person that they have been bullied by a staff member, volunteer, member or attendee (and that it is a matter that is able to be resolved in a pastoral manner);
- Dissatisfaction with the manner in which a staff member or volunteer has fulfilled their ministry role; and
- A complaint that a staff member or volunteer has committed a minor breach of the Code of Conduct.
Raising an issue:
- Anyone may raise an issue
- With a person directly (see Pathway 1)
- With Church leadership or the Safe Church Team in order to seek assistance in resolving the issue (see Pathway 2).
- If the concern relates to a member of the Church Leadership or the Safe Church Team, the person should raise their concern with another member of the Church Leadership or Safe Church Team.
In raising an issue, all parties are to be guided by the following key principles:
- Seeking to glorify God in our responses to each other,
- Striving to serve each other even in the midst of our disunity,
- Seeking to be Christ-like in our reactions to each other,
- Extending grace to each other,
- Focusing on forgiveness and restoration of relationship where appropriate,
- Seeking help where needed to address grievances.
The Church acknowledges that:
- The nature of relationship breakdown means that it is necessary to respond sensitively and with care for all parties involved;
- In many conflict situations, to help each party understand the key issues and ways forward, the assistance of a neutral third party becomes essential;
- Many issues are specific to a particular context and relationship and so must be responsive to this, seeking resolution of substantive issues and where possible, appropriate restoration of reiationships between ail parties;
- The pathway recommended by the Church Leadership will depend upon the nature of the issue, the positions or roles of the parties involved and the skills and capacity of Church Leadership to address the situation.
Pathway 1 – Personal Approach
- Where an issue arises between a staff member, volunteer, member or attendee and another and the parties feel able to address their concerns without involving other parties, they are to go to the other person and express their concerns with a view to resolving their differences in accordance with Matthew 18: 15-17.
- The person initiating the personal approach should consider seeking counsel from a wise and unbiased senior leader (from within the church community eg: an Elder, or externally) or receiving conflict coaching before approaching the other person.
- This approach may be useful for addressing personal disagreements and the perceived offences. This pathway will not be appropriate where there are concerns about significant power imbalances.
Pathway 2 – Locally assisted approach
- In the event of any of the following, then the matter should be brought to the attention of the Church leadership:
- Pathway 1 being unsuccessful in restoring relationship; and/or
- There are concerns about significant power imbalances; and/or
- The issues relates to perceived bullying; and/or
- The issue relates to dissatisfaction with the manner in which a staff member or volunteer has performed their ministry role.
- If an issue is brought to the Church Leadership
- Church Leadership are to provide support to all parties.
- Where the Church Leadership considers the issue to be sufficiently serious, they are to appoint a suitably skilled person to assist in resolving the conflict. This may be a senior member of the pastoral staff. Church Leadership are to avoid conflicts of interest where possible when selecting this person. In some cases, for example, where the conflict involves the Senior Pastor, a church consultant from the Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT may be requested.
- Where all parties involved in the matter are willing to work towards restoring relationships, the person selected to assist in resolving the conflict will:
- Value confidentiality at all times;
- Meet with each person separately to ensure they are given a chance to tell their story in private, working through their underlying concerns in moving towards resolution;
- Clearly communicate the process to be used to each party during the resolution meetings;
- Hold a meeting with the parties together to identify common ground, work through the issues and determine the course of action;
- Follow up to ensure that the solutions are being implemented; and
- If appropriate, monitor the situation over the following weeks, including to check-in with the parties to ensure that the situation is resolving and that relationships are being restored.
- At any stage throughout the process, the person selected to assist to resolve the issue may contact Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT for assistance or resourcing.
Escalation to Procedure for Handling Complaints against staff or volunteers
During the course of resolving a concern in accordance with this Procedure, it may be necessary to escalate the matter in accordance with the Procedure for Handling Complaints against Staff and Volunteers. There may be several reasons this is required, including:
- That on inquiry into the issue it is identified that the conduct complained of would more appropriately be characterised as a serious breach of the Code of Conduct (such as children protection concerns); or
- The subject of the concern is a staff member or volunteer and they are not willing to participate in this Procedure (as required under the Code of Conduct).
Escalation to membership removal process
During the course of resolving an issue in accordance with this Procedure, it may be necessary to escalate the matter to the process for removing someone from membership of the Church as prescribed in the Constitution of Belconnen Baptist Church.
Procedure for Conflict Resolution Download