Dealing with Conflict in a Biblical Way

In this video, pastor and author Chris Brauns interviews Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries and Tony Kroening of SIMA International. Churches experiencing a conflict during their pastor search will profit from the insights shared as well as gain ideas about where they can look for more help as their church moves forward.

One of the most damaging mindsets that besieges churches seeking a new pastor is the following: “If we do everything correctly during our pastoral transition, then our church will be completely unified.”

This mindset negates a lot of the challenges a church faces when searching for a new pastor. Guests Ken and Tony discuss three reasons church have conflict:

  1. Breakdown in previous pastor relationships
  2. Process of change – different expectations within the congregation
  3. Differing expectations between the new pastor and the church

Both the Bible and experience warn that any time God’s people move forward, they can expect conflict. Consider these quotes from both Scripture and leadership resources:

I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

– 1 Corinthians 16:5-9

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

-Acts 20:28-30

Over time and through hundreds of conversations we came to recognize that change does not happen without conflict. As we reviewed the biblical patterns, every time—without exception—the people of God began to make adjustments to join God in his activity, conflict emerged.”

– Jim Herrington and others, Leading Congregational Change: A Practical Guide for the Transformational Journey

…Virtually every leader in Scripture endured some type of conflict in his or her life. The cost of following Christ is great. We cannot become complacent with the status quo just to avoid conflict. We must lead. Yes, we must love the people, and we must console them when change becomes increasingly painful to them. But we must lead. We cannot be content with a life and a ministry that could be described in the epitaph:”This leader avoided conflict well.”

– Thom Rainer, Breakout Churches.

It is concluded that every congregation that successfully adapted and flourished in a changing community had a substantial church fight. Those that chose to avoid conflict at all costs failed to flourish. No exceptions.

– Gene Wood, Leading Turnaround Churches.

You can see why it is so damaging when pastoral search committees think that if they do their job well there will be no conflict. When conflict is experienced, the logical conclusion is that either the pastoral search committee didn’t approach the process in the right way, or that the new pastor is somehow at fault.

Rather than promising ourselves that there will be no conflict, churches looking for a pastor should prepare to respond biblically to conflict when it arises.

Your Thoughts
What have been sources of conflict in your pastoral search? What advice would you recommend to other to prevent those conflicts from happening?

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