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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Congregational Peacemaking: Managing Conflict and Congregational Change

Faculty: Steve Joiner and Al Sturgeon

Congregations face tremendous challenges in the current cultural and religious environment. Yet it seems the place that should provide peace in the middle of trouble doesn't manage conflict well in many cases. Most leaders feel inadequate to address the conflict embedded in these complex, adaptive organizations. This course will provide skillsets that will help churches move productively through complexity and challenge.

What you will learn:

  • Biblical guide to peacemaking – a theology
  • Spiritual encouragement – the role/place of the "go-between" in balancing neutrality and fairness
  • Conflict assessment – issues, positions, and interests
  • Problem-solving processes – negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and moving beyond impasse
  • Understanding and developing competencies as "conflict leaders/peacemakers" – leadership
  • How to manage difficult personalities and hold productive conversations
  • Learn to identify transformational opportunities and redesign the "church/family" environment
  • Discover how to use conflicts as opportunities for personal growth, organizational learning, strategic change, emotional healing, and transformation/reconciliation "...the mind of Christ"

Steve Joiner is the dean of the Institutes and managing director for the Institute for Conflict Management at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. Joiner has been an academic dean for 15 of his 22 years of academic life. The Institutes at Lipscomb, along with offering academic master's degrees at the university, function as a service to businesses, governmental agencies, churches, and nonprofit organizations in leadership and transition in their systemic life. Joiner is also a nationally recognized mediator, trainer, and educator in the field of conflict management. Joiner also teaches courses on leadership, negotiation, religious conflict, generationally generated conflict, and conflict systems design at the graduate level. Joiner has mediated conflict in over 75 churches and other religious organizations. He serves on the board of directors of Biblijski Institut in Zagreb, Croatia, and the supervisory board of Leadership Tennessee. He is also a visiting instructor at Southern Methodist University Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, teaching law students and non-law students in facilitation and generational conflict management.

Al Sturgeon is the dean of graduate programs at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law. He earned a BSE with high honors from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1992 and a JD with honors from Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law in 2011. He has extensive leadership experience in churches and religious organizations, having served as a youth minister, full-time preaching minister, houseparent at a children's home, founder and president of two Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and currently as an elder of the University Church of Christ in Malibu, California. He has taught law-related classes at Seaver College and at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law, including Apology, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation for the Straus Institute. He is a member of the State Bar of California and serves on the advisory board of the Malibu Community Labor Exchange.