Scripture admonishes us that "we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies" Ephesians When I struggle with disunity, discord, and dissent, it sure feels like a flesh-and-blood battle! But we are reminded in Scripture about this spiritual reality: Satan's only method is to "steal and kill and destroy" John What better place than in our relationships in ministry? We must be vigilant in guarding our unity and the peace between us. When we sense discord, we cannot ignore the fact that there are forces at work that desire our fracture.
This can be a point of motivation in pain, to continue to seek peace even when you feel like giving up. When we face struggles in ministry, we want to react as spiritual leaders, not as petulant, pouting children. But we often think too highly of our ability to handle conflict.
Managing Conflict in the Church
A better understanding of how you will manage your ministry relationships is how you handle your family relationships. Don't expect to be anyone other than yourself when you handle a conflict at work.
If you tend to withdraw or avoid conflict in your family or other relationships, you can expect to act the same way at work. Knowing your own relational patterns can help you understand your growth areas and be aware of blind spots in the way you enter conflict. I am painfully aware that the true "end goal" in many arguments is to get my point across, prove I'm right, or make sure a decision goes in the direction I desire.
It is a much higher call to make the relationship between the people in conflict my number-one priority. I often find I want the problem fixed regardless of what happens to the relationship. Diffusing conflict in a rigid church system is really not much different than doing so in a dysfunctional family system, except that it takes longer and is far more complex. The same can be done in a church system, with the result that the performance of the church greatly increases.
But it takes longer, calls for more concentrated conflict management skills, and far more energy than is demanded in circumstances involving smaller groups of people. In a troubled church, one must take the initial stance that no one is wrong and no one is right. Rather, each individual possesses a sliver of truth, which is often mistaken for the whole truth.
Whatever role one plays in encountering conflict in the church, it must be undertaken with a great degree of sanctified professionalism and human dignity. One must know what he is about, and where the resolution project is to go before he starts. Once one is in the midst of the whirlwind, there is no turning back. In addition, one must be careful to become neither the victim nor the victimizer.
It is also easy for a pastor—or interventionist—to hasten too quickly into the fray, thus becoming the victimizer of those who in reality seek healing, although they know not how to get it. Pastors encountering Level Two conflict can benefit greatly by developing around them a support group which can help them process the myriad frustrations and complex feelings with which they will be assaulted.
Interventionists called in from the outside would profit to consult with former pastors, former lay leaders, district ministers, and others who can provide both insight and support. Above all, it is paramount that only one doctor leads the team. He may call for additional consultative support, but no one else unilaterally should do so. It is also useful to share this insight about feelings with people involved in the conflict. To do so is better than merely to encourage them to bridle their feelings.
In order to understand the feelings of conflict, and finally to direct them as Christ would teach us, requires that we learn the difference between having emotions, expressing emotions, reporting emotions, and being unnecessarily victimized by the bad effects of emotions. Closely connected to the erratic way in which emotions work in the midst of conflict are issues of power, control, and feelings of being overwhelmed. As the feelings of the pseuche are integrated with the eternal spirit and corporeal body in a practical as well as a theological manner, we will begin to experience in new dimension the holistic salvation that is offered to us by God.
Then, indeed, our churches will become whole, and will more fully live out the purpose of salvation to which we are called. Thomas Pastor Carey dreaded the monthly church council meetings.
In practicing and teaching good listening, the following techniques are helpful: Reduce fear in the other person by legitimizing their right to be heard, and by receiving what they say as validly being their view of things. Practice the art of active listening, by affirming the statements and feelings of the speaker as being their own, and by giving them permission to be vulnerable in the presence of another without being victimized for it.
Do not give the sense of taking sides with or against the speaker, but rather seek clarification both for yourself and for the speaker. In dealing with two people, the three steps can be presented, or outlined on a marker board or piece of paper, and the pair can be coached through one or two practice sessions of the technique.
In dealing with a small group of people, the steps can, again, be presented by lecture and illustration. People can be paired off for practice sessions, using issues and questions prepared by the pastor-teacher.
In dealing with a conflicted group, the pastor or process leader can watch for natural pauses in the conversation, and then ask R-R-C questions of the group. Ways of implementation include: Teaching people how to let an initial wave of emotion pass without imputing grave sin to the occasion. Helping people understand that feelings are not bad; only bad behavior is bad.
Sin is not in the initial thought, it is in the extension of the thought to malicious words and deeds. Show that the Apostle Paul generally followed that rule, and then extended it by making critical statements only in constructive and positive ways. Showing people that in the biblical narrative, collaboration was many times more useful than confrontation in resolving differences Thomas, This, however, requires that one follow up with teaching on how collaboration works.
Six principles of Christian permission-giving, which allows people to develop at their own rate of internal agility, may be summarized as follows: Give life permission to be the way it is, until Christ changes it. Be who you are—responsibly. Let others be who they are—caringly. Care about your sister or brother—appropriately.
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Conflict Management in Church and Home
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Managing Conflict in a Church Setting
Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Managing Conflict in the Church by David W. A music minister resigns from his church because several board members threaten to have him removed if he doesn't return to a traditional worship style. Several people stop tithing in protest when their church decides to spend money on a new gym rather than a new fellowship hall.
As a church starts a second service to accommodate their growing congregation, thirty members A music minister resigns from his church because several board members threaten to have him removed if he doesn't return to a traditional worship style.
Direction: The Pastor's Role in Managing Church Conflict
As a church starts a second service to accommodate their growing congregation, thirty members leave because they want to start a new building project instead. The consequences of unresolved conflict in the church are disastrous. A small argument can grow into a tug-of-war that rips the church apart. From personality conflicts to power politics, the causes of discord in the church are as diverse as the people involved in them. But you can handle the variety of conflicts that you encounter daily if you have a fundamental understanding of the nature of conflict.
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