Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!




If you have ever served as a pastor in a church, you have probably heard this phrase, “Pastor, I love you in the Lord, but…”  Nothing good ever follows that phrase.  Ever.

The truth is… the people in your church are not more mean spirited than the people in the church down the street.  Every church leader (and church) has its share of scars, wounds and horror stories.  Conflict – especially over change — is normal.

Norman Shawchuck (https://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/) writes about the main reasons churches experience conflict:

  • Problems in an organizational structure: To lessen organizational conflict, each church ministry needs job descriptions and clear guidelines for people who want to become involved. If the church and its ministries do not provide guidelines, people may create opportunities that are not orientated to the church’s vision and goals.
  • Pastoral Issues: Two extremes exist concerning pastoral issues: If a pastor has served well for many years in a congregation and is replaced, displaced, or retires, it is like a father has been taken away. During these times of transition, people often cannot distinguish what is happening in the organization from what is happening in their lives.
  • Different Seasons in a Church: Pastors need to understand that certain times of the year and different events are more prone to conflict than others. Christmas and Easter are often times of conflict.
  • Environmental Stressors: A church is not isolated from the problems or stressful situations in the community. If the community is in a period of economic downturn or community disaster, the congregation will also be affected.
  • Numerical Decline or Growth:  Numerical growth is as stressful to a congregation as numerical decline. Numerical growth should cause celebration, but significant numerical growth causes some people to lose their influence. New people bring new and different ideas, and old members find themselves smothered by them.

Shawchuck provides several solutions to conflict.  One of his most helpful remedies is to find the real source of the conflict and deal with it right away.  He writes:

Pastors need to find the real source and deal with it. The real source can be found by using our God-given senses. What do I see? What do I hear? What are my senses telling me? These allow us to tune in to the dynamics of the congregation even though we have no hard data. A church that is in trouble has a feeling about it. The Holy Spirit can also reveal things to us that provide insight into conflict. The Holy Spirit will use our five senses. He also provides the gifts of the Spirit, including the discerning of the Spirit.

Do you have a plan to manage conflict?  Do you have a Biblical theology for conflict?  When was the last time you taught and modeled conflict management at your church?

Post your best remedy for conflict resolution here… it may save the ministry and health of another pastor and church. 

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