One of the reasons churches don’t grow is because they are conflicted, and they don’t know how to deal with their conflicts. The potential for conflict exists wherever two or more people are gathered and that is just what the church is and does. Church’s experience conflict because of differing ideas and opinions, contrasting motivation and goals, and a variety of needs and concerns. The potential for conflict is everywhere. So as a church leader, how do you personally deal with and model for others how to handle conflict in your church?
How to Handle C.O.N.F.L.I.C.T.
Call on God in prayer for guidance and protection.
Before confronting any situation take some time to consult with God. Pray for wisdom, patience, and direction about what you are to say, how you say it and what you don’t say!
Organize your thoughts and words.
What is the end game you are trying to achieve and what is the best path to get there? In the heat of conflict, emotions may rise causing you to possibly say things that you may regret so think before you speak.
Never contradict God’s word.
The Bible tells us that a tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:43) and the fruit of God’s spirit is our guide for dealing with others. Galatians 5: 22-23 tells us that
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
So, if you’re not relating in love, peace, kindness, gentleness etc. in a conflict situation, then you will never resolve the conflict or grow your church into a healthy, fruit bearing tree.
Find the good in the other person.
The conflict you have is not with the person his/herself but more than likely with the behavior of that person. A good reminder is to address the behavior, not the person. This is your sister/brother in Christ, if you look for the good in the other person you will find it.
Let go of the need to be right.
Ask yourself this question during a confrontation, “Would I rather be right making my point, or would I rather restore the relationship with this person?” Our stubborn pride is often the stumbling block to resolving conflict with another.
Invite the other person’s perspective.
Steven Covey in his classic book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” gives us this principle, “Seek first to understand then to be understood”
Conflict often dissipates when we, with empathy try to understand of another’s perspective.
Create a bridge to reconnect.
Even if you are only responsible for 5% of the problem, apologize for your part. That paves the way for the other party to apologize for their part. Bridges are built one brick at a time. You start.
Tell the truth in love.
Being truthful is imperative but telling the truth does not allow you to smack someone over the head with it. Using civility and humility remember your goal in this conflict is to resolve the problem and hopefully restore the relationship if possible.
Jesus gives us wise advise regarding conflict resolution in Matthew 18:15–17 (NLT)
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
Walking on eggshells, spouting passive aggressive comments or totally avoiding conflict only builds resentment but confidently engaging in these suggestions are positive steps toward reconciliation in your church. (2 Corinthians 5:11–21)