Every church experiences conflicts! To deny this reality of church life is to deny the selfishness of human beings. A church is made up of people who think and perceive life differently. Therefore, there will be differences. Some differences will be recognized as such, and some will become growing conflicts that may get ugly if not defused and refocused on Christian brotherhood.
Pastor John, of the Church of Blessed Assurance, was deep into the third year of his first pastorate. The church had been in existence for thirty-seven years, the result of a split from The First Non-Denominational Church of Downtown. Since it’s inception, the congregation had been slowly growing as it gained increasing appeal in the community. John had well-prepared sermons and delivered them with a warm style that exuded his sincere love for God and people. As he approached the anniversary of his fourth year as shepherd of the little flock of 225 members, he anticipated continued smooth sailing.
Then his world was upset by increasing conflict within the church family. A group of the faithful core was increasingly upset with another group of the faithful core. The entire church was beginning to think that they needed to plan for remodeling the sanctuary in celebration of the approaching 40th anniversary of the church. The conservative “Green” group was beginning to campaign for a change of color theme from the worn blue in the 35 year old building, to a forest green theme because of it’s meditative warmth. The heretical “Red” group wanted a bright red motif, to remind all who worshipped there of the blood of Christ, shed for all. The conflict was growing exponentially!
What is Pastor John to do?
It sounds silly, doesn’t it!? And yet I’ve heard of a church splitting over this very problem and other just such insignificant issues! Sometimes it’s small things that devastate a church’s health and sometimes it is a core theological issue that brings a church or minister to it’s knees. The reality of life is that every church faces conflict in some form at some time or another in it’s existence. Usually, over the life of the church, conflicts arise often or infrequently, but they do arise multiple times in various forms.
So here’s the question for your consideration: Whatchyagonnado?
Are you prepared to deal with the fallout of conflict in your church — minister or layman? Think about the ramifications of conflict:
- Hurt feelings — George Barna, guru of Christian life in the US says that his research has discovered that most people who identify themselves as Christians but don’t attend church take that tack because they’ve been hurt by someone at church.
- Loss of members — When there are hurt feelings because of conflict, people involved stop attending that church.
- Loss of reputation in the community — When there is conflict in the church those involved and many observers often share their observations with others, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those in the community who hear of the problems. Regardless of which side of the conflict the source supports the reputation of the church is wounded.
- Impact of finances for the church — When people are offended and/or leave the church, they’re not going to continue to contribute to the church. While the church is not is not in the business of making a profit, the reality of life is that money to support ministries is a reality.
Suggestions for being prepared for conflicts will follow in the next Church Harmony article, coming soon. In the meantime, do a mental inventory of your church’s preparedness for dealing with conflicts that will arise, in little or big ways.
One way for pastors to prepare to head off conflict before it even begins is by Getting Your Staff on Board for Church Harmony. Sign up for your free report on the right side of the home page for your free basic guide for working with your staff’s enthusiastic support to bring your church into unity.