Friday, June 24, 2005

For Conflicted Emergers: Keeping the Peace

Since May of 2001, the 350 or so faithmappers (though many lurk, have moved on to other email addresses, have forgotten they've subscribed, etc) have posted 41,513 emails to our community discussion group (averaging ab 845 a month). Though our community has had some tense moments, one reason it has worked as well as it has is that one of our primary requirements for participation: mutual respect. We suggest that's helpful in other contexts as well! Here's the note that's sent out monthly to underline this need:

**On Respect**


The faithmaps discussion group is not a church, but church happens here.

We have a pretty wide spectrum on this list from those who do not believe in God at all but like to talk to us folks that do to a number of us who not only passionately believe in the existence of the Judeo-Christian God but also believe that He has spoken and that reliably in Scripture. We are a public list and anyone is welcome to join as long as they understand what we're about and the parameters of our discussion (like any discussion list). We've been compared to Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri: and the discussion group find their foundation in evangelicalism, but all from any ideological orientation are welcome to participate. We seek to advance God's kingdom thru such interactions.

So I'll typically put my moderator hat on only when I think we are about to
stray significantly off discussion of

"tools for navigating theology, leadership, discipleship and church
life in postmodernity"

or when I see a breakdown of respect.

**conflict and respect**

Our discussions here are sometimes quite spirited, but collegial. We occasionally disagree or explore a topic from various viewpoints but generally we do so with mutual respect. We believe much learning occurs through such interchanges.

But I'll step in if - and this is very important - I perceive that anyone is dealing with someone else disrespectfully. We have a great community here and it would be sad to see it disintegrate into potshot land or a place of mere rhetorical positioning and grandstanding.

I also am not anxious to see us bogged down into debate on any one issue or especially emotive issues that are debated endlessly and with great verve on other lists (homosexuality, abortion, etc).

In the past on very rare occasions, I have stepped in when it seemed to me that discussion on any one topic on which there was disagreement debilitated to what I call "little motorcycle circles in the sand." Most of the time this is not an issue because most folks realize that a point can come where further discussion is counterproductive. But the desire to have the last word, or perhaps a passionate commitment to one's point of view, or other motives can subject all the 'mappers to endless reams of fruitless discussion, so I may choose to interdict or redirect such a thread.

Failure to respond to moderator notes dealing with these matters subjects violators to having their posts moderated (posts coming directly to me for approval) or even to being banned from the group. Further, in an effort to stop serial violators, any faithmaps participant who has been addressed with moderator's notes in the past are subject to *immediate* moderation (all their emails will come to me for approval) or even being banned.

I will always strive to act in fairness to both supposed violators and the group in my best judgment.

When other differences of opinion come up, our discussions should drive to either

agreement - humble people of integrity are
susceptible to being enlightened by others!,

synthesis - in my experience, successful resolution often ends here,

or a *civil* agreement to disagree.

If you've reached a point in discussion where it seem fruitless to continue or you find it difficult to discuss a topic further without debilitating into unwarranted disrespect or sarcasm, perhaps it's time to withdraw from that particular discussion thread and/or opt for the third option listed above.

And my mentioning synthesis does *not* imply that I believe that there are no instances of genuine thesis/antithesis where one party is right and one party is wrong.

There is no reason disagreement and disrespect must always coincide. I strongly feel that we must not absolutize others down to the one thing on which they disagree with us. But I also see that folks often have a tendency to incorrectly and/or prematurely analyze disagreements down to thesis/antithesis without giving sufficient diligence to seeking either an understanding of our opposite or a third option.



1 comment:

Scot McKnight said...

Thanks for this, and what you are saying here is what the emergent conversation/movement is all about. I applaud you for your work, and for this little reminder to be charitable.