When last we heard about Pastor John’s dilemma, his church was in turmoil because of the controversy regarding the color theme for the church’s sanctuary as they remodel.
So, facing four possible repercussions of hurt feelings, loss of members, diminished reputation in the community and financial loss for the church, how does one approach resolving the differences?
Matthew 5:23-24 is a great passage that we all need to remember for personal issues. Mainly because it points out that when a person has wronged another, he or she needs to be responsible in experiencing remorse and making amends to resolve the wrong. But what if the offender is not repentant? Many times in individual and group conflicts within the church no one will accept responsibility for being the offender for one of two reasons. One reason is that pride will not allow either side to admit they’re wrong. In other words they’re both “right.” The other reason is that no one is the offender, they just disagree. And the disagreement escalates. So this isn’t an appropriate application of Scripture in most church conflicts.
The other passage that’s frequently referred to for conflicts is Matthew 18:15-17. As in the previous passage we looked at, it’s application is for disputes between two individuals. Also, it is loaded with conditional clauses. In other words, if the first condition isn’t met, you can’t continue with the next step. Additionally, in it’s referral to a conflict between two individuals, it requires two or more witnesses of the original offense. It’s not indicating that there is a need to have witnesses for the confrontation between the alleged offender and offended. (Duet. 19:15) So applying this to a church conflict is also inappropriate.
A church can prepare to deal with conflicts in the way God does. Being prepared in advance can keep the pastor from becoming entrenched in a way that he becomes the loser. A method that allows for resolution without either side being “right” and the other “wrong” means that everyone wins.
You can get your church ready for any problems that might come up.
- God has blessed each church with some great abilities and gifted people by His presence, so take advantage of your church’s strengths and prepare yourselves.
- Plan with the “right” approach. Haven’t you had The Manuel for that all along? Unfortunately, the how of resolving conflicts is not part of seminary training. Details of each incident change from situation to situation. Opposing factions may be open to resolution and work readily to end a conflict. Other times those involved will be more invested in “winning” their argument than in wanting everyone to win, so all lose. There is a way to increase the probability of getting a healthy result.
- Implementing scripture is obviously the key. How to put it into effect is the question. Knowing which scriptures are to be applied is also a concern. As cited earlier, the application of Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 18:15-17 when they are not appropriate, creates more difficulties. (c.f. Hope In the Face of Conflict, Dr. Kenneth Newberger)
- Prepare ahead of time. You can begin to prepare now to head off the devastating results of conflicts in your church. Don’t wait till a problem has arisen to explore ways to deal with it. After a conflict begins is not the time to have to scramble for a way to survive.
Rather than waiting for a crisis to surface, get help now with planning and training to be prepared for problems and head them off. Contact me if you’d like information regarding training for your church to be prepared to resolve conflicts before they impact your church. Click on the following link to send me a message: www.ChurchHarmonyNow.com