Is your church in the midst of a damaging conflict, one that inhibits its ability to live out its mission? Is your church interested in becoming a more relational community, one where healthy differences are seen as opportunities for growth?
FaithCARE can help. Through a series of open and honest conversations done in facilitated circles, FaithCARE helps churches work through conflicts in such a way that they lead to deeper understanding and healthier relationships. And through training and mentoring, FaithCARE gives tools to help churches become restorative congregations—to build strong, healthy, “conflict-friendly” communities.
FaithCARE’s practice is grounded in the belief that:
- Every person has God-given worth
- No one is disposable
- Conflict and harm are most effectively addressed by attending to the needs of everyone affected
Restorative questions form the basis for talking circles. Questions may include:
- What happened?
- What impact has the incident or issue had on you and others?
- What is the hardest thing for you about this?
- What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
- What are you prepared to do to help make things right?
Everyone has a voice, and the process is always invitational. Each FaithCARE service is tailored to each congregation under the congregation’s direction.
Congregations have told us “we would not have been able to move from our pain and conflict to where we are now without the support of FaithCARE.”
One of the mysteries of faith is that some of the most difficult, painful and damaging conflicts between people take place in church settings. Likely many of us know of congregation-based disputes that have left people hurt and embittered – perhaps even questioning their faith.
FaithCARE has developed Listening Circles to help facilitate conversations about specific topics.
What is a Listening Circle?
A listening circle provides participants the opportunity to listen to each other about a specific topic. Through a structured process, participants respond to a series of questions while the rest of the participants listen.
Everyone just listens.
Sometimes Listening Circles can be used to prepare or feed into a response, a direction or vision, but often they are not: they’re just for listening.
Benefits of a Listening Circle:
- everyone has a chance to speak without being interrupted
- participants listen to others who may have a different perspective on the issue
- participants gain a shared understanding of the impact of the issue on the community
- participants practice listening as an act of love
Since 2007, our multi-denominational team of veteran Restorative Practice facilitators has partnered with over 80 churches around Ontario from 10 denominations. In addition, we have worked coast-to-coast, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and in the United States and Haiti. Issues have ranged from low intensity to very high intensity conflict. We have also walked alongside churches as they live out their desire to become “restorative culture congregations”, where all church activities, such as Church Council meetings and Bible studies, are seen as opportunities to engage and deepen relationships.
- Download the FaithCARE brochure.
- Subscribe to FaithCARE’s eNewsletter, FaithCARE Links by sending an email to Danielle VandenAkker.
- Read articles about FaithCARE from the International Institute of Restorative Practices, the Canadian Church Council on Justice and Corrections,and North American Association of Christians in Social Work.
- Read this article from a participant at a FaithCARE training and how her thinking shifted and how they learned how to give space, to listen and to offer ideas for growth.
- Watch this space for information about the next three-day FaithCARE training offered in your area.
FaithCARE is guided by an inter-denominational Steering Group made up of experienced Restorative Practice practitioners.
International Institute of Restorative Practices – Canada
We are grateful for the partnership of the International Institute of Restorative Practices – Canada in FaithCARE.
A pastor who had requested a restorative conversation with a congregational member before he took a position with another church said:
Now I feel free to move on.
The situation had been on our Council’s agenda for a couple of years. We were so frustrated. It was finally addressed.
Anne Martin, Director of FaithCARE Services