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Conciliation Clauses

Plan Ahead to Mediate, Not Litigate

These ICC Conciliation Clauses can be included in all contracts, by-laws, handbooks, and all signed agreements in order to ensure conflict resolution in a biblically faithful manner, according to 1 Corinthians 6.

One of the best ways to make sure that a conflict is resolved constructively is to include a conciliation clause in any contract you sign. These clauses are legally enforceable and require that any dispute related to the contract be resolved through biblically-based mediation or arbitration rather than through litigation.

Using these clauses may help you to avoid the stress and expense of the secular legal system. They should not be used merely for that reason, however. Conciliation clauses should be used by those who are truly committed to biblical principles of peace, justice, and reconciliation, and who place a high priority on honoring God and preserving relationships even in the midst of conflict.

Why Use Conciliation Clauses?

Conciliation clauses have been used successfully for many years. The language suggested above is similar to language that has been used for decades by the American Arbitration Association.

Conciliation clauses may be used in almost any kind of contract. They are useful in employment, sales, construction, and professional services contracts.

Conciliation clauses are simple to use. Even though there are basic steps that must be followed when using them, these clauses are not complex. Once you understand the underlying concept, you may use them in many kinds of contracts.

Conciliation clauses can save you a great deal of time, money, and energy. A lawsuit can consume thousands of dollars, deplete you emotionally and spiritually, distract you from important activities and people, damage your reputation, and continue for years. A conciliation clause can help you to stay out of court and avoid many of these hardships.

Conciliation clauses can help to preserve valuable relationships. When conflict erupts over a contract and people go to court, the adversarial process often damages their relationships beyond repair. In contrast, conciliation provides a way to settle substantive issues while at the same time resolving personal differences and promoting genuine reconciliation, allowing people to resume their personal and business relationships.

Conciliation clauses are legally enforceable. Both state and federal courts will usually enforce conciliation agreements that require arbitration. If a dispute arises and either party refuses to participate in conciliation efforts, the other party may petition a court for an order to compel the parties to proceed with mediation and arbitration. Similarly, if either party files a lawsuit regarding a contract violation, the other party may ask the court to stop the suit and direct the parties to proceed with conciliation.

Numerous courts have addressed whether contracts requiring mediation and/or arbitration pursuant to The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation are enforceable. The following courts have found that contracts requiring the parties to resolve disputes according to biblical principles, and specifically according to a process set forth in The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation, published by the Institute for Christian Conciliation, are enforceable:


  • Whitefield Academy et al v Alford et al, Kentucky Ct of Appeals, No. 2021-CA-0678-I, November 2021  -- ICC med/arb clause in parents’ contract with Christian school enforceable where parents claim school discriminated against student based on gender.

  • Maynard v Christian Valley Academy, Case No. 5:16-CV-01889 (ND Ohio, August 21, 2017) -- ICC med/arb clause in teacher contract enforceable for teacher claims under FLSA.

  • Spivey v. Teen Challenge of Florida Inc, First District Court of Appeal of Florida, 2013 (  -- requiring plaintiff in wrongful death action to be bound by the ICC arbitration clause in the contract that decedent entered into with Teen Challenge, despite plaintiff’s 1st Amendment challenge.

  • Woodlands Christian Academy v Weibust,  No. 09-10-00010-CV, 2010 (9th Court of Appeals, Texas) ( -- ICC med/arb clause, including Rule 4, in teacher contract enforceable.

  • Easterly v. Heritage Christian Schools, Inc., Case No. 1:08-cv-1714-WTL-TAB (S.D. Ind. Aug. 26, 2009)  -- ICC med/arb clause, including Rule 4, in teacher contract enforceable, even for claims under ADA and ADEA.

  • Encore Productions, Inc. v. Promise Keepers, 53 F.Supp.2d 1101 (D.Colo.1999)  --  ICC clause is valid and enforceable in contract dispute; “the Rules for Christian Conciliation lead me to conclude that they are not impermissibly inconsistent with the application of Colorado law.“ 53 F.Supp.2d at 1111.

  • Woodlands Christian Academy v Logan (1998 WL 257002, Tex.App.- Beaumont, May 21, 1998, NO. 09-97-348-CV) -- ICC clause in contract between Christian school and a teacher upheld.

  • McCaffrey v Philadelphia Montgomery Christian Academy and Peacemaker ICC, Superior Ct of Pennsylvania, Case No. 3511, EDA 2012 (2013) -- ICC clause in contract between Christian school and a teacher upheld.


One court has reviewed an arbitration decision rendered according to The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation and found it valid and not subject to review or being overturned:

  • Prescott v. Northlake Christian School, 244 FS2d 659 (United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana, 2002); 369 F.3d 491, 187 Ed (5th Cir. 2004); Civil Action No: 01-475, Section: “J” (2), Oct. 29, 2004.


There are also at least two cases that did not enforce the ICC Clause:

  • Rejecting ICC arbitration clause as unconscionable:

    • Higher Ground Worship Center v Arks, Inc. (Case No. 1:11-cv-00077-BLW, March 1, 2011, Fed Dist Ct, Idaho) (Note that the defendant lessor had modified the standard ICC clause by inserting an exception for non-payment of rent.)  -- Clause was procedurally unconscionable where church was led by pastor with GED who had little bargaining power compared with builder; and substantively unconscionable because it forced the weaker party—the church—to arbitrate all its claims but exempted non-payment of rent, allowing lessor to sue church for non-payment, which it did. [interpreting North Carolina law]


  • Refusing to enforce ICC clause in church membership:

    • Doe v Vineyard Columbus, No. 13-AP-599 (Ohio Ct of Appeals, 10th App Dist, 2014) – Couple was not precluded from suing their church despite signing a membership agreement that contained the ICC clause because the couple never saw the ICC clause and were never informed of the church policy.

Conciliation clauses do not affect other rights. When you sign a contract containing a conciliation clause, only your rights and responsibilities related to that particular agreement are affected.

The best time to agree on how to settle a conflict is before it arises. When people are initially negotiating a contract, they are usually on friendly terms and seldom expect serious problems in their relationship. If a conflict arises later, however, trust evaporates quickly; people often become defensive, suspicious, and hostile, and may refuse to agree to conciliation. Therefore, the best time to suggest using conciliation is when a contract is first being written and both sides are inclined to see a conciliation clause as a prudent, non-threatening precaution.

Conciliation clauses may be implemented even if there is not an established Christian conciliation ministry in the parties’ community. The language proposed by the ICC commits the parties to a defined process, not to a particular conciliator. If a conflict develops and conciliation is necessary, the parties may ask leaders from their respective churches or other respected individuals in their community to settle the matter using the ICC Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation. If such assistance is not easily available, they may bring in experienced conciliators from another location. (If the parties cannot agree on who will handle their case, the Rules provide that the ICC will make that decision.)


It is wise to talk with an attorney before using a conciliation clause. In some states conciliation clauses must be written in a certain way to be legally binding. A visit with an attorney can confirm your commitment to avoid litigation, alert you to local requirements, and ensure the enforceability of a conciliation clause in your contract.

The ICC has materials that can help you explain the benefits of using conciliation clauses. One of the best ways to persuade other people to agree to use a conciliation clause is to encourage them to visit our web site and provide them with copies of these Guidelines. 

If you begin using conciliation clauses today, you are taking a wise precaution against unnecessary stress and expense in the future. Moreover, by openly committing yourself to the conflict resolution principles set forth in Scripture, you will be making a clear statement that you trust in God and desire to follow his principles in every aspect of your life.

Cases upholding the enforceability of clauses requiring faith-based arbitration include:


  • Jenkins v. Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 825 N.E. 2d 1206 (Ill. App. 2005).

  • Kyer v. Teen Challenge of Florida, Inc. No. 8:07-cv-1824-T-23-TBM. Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2008 WL 1849024 M.D.Fla.,2008.

  • Graves v. George Fox University, No. CBO6-395-S-EJL, August 16, 2007, Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2007 WL 2363372D.Idaho,2007.

  • Answers in Genesis of Kentucky Inc. v. Creation Ministries Intern., Ltd. Civil Action No. 2008-53 (WOB) August 04, 2008. Slip Copy, 2008 WL 5657681 E.D.Ky.,2008.

  • Weibust v. Woodlands Christian Academy, No. 09-10-00010-CV, 2010 (9th Court of Appeals, Tex).

  • Pettey v Medi Share (US District Ct, S.D. Miss., October 1, 2019).

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