It's like ripping off a bandage to bathe the wound in healing sunlight.
Unpleasant. Even painful. But the end result is health and restoration.
That's what church conflict is like. Painful but, when treated properly, the path to a healthy church and a stronger, more confident pastor.
At least that's the results of a survey conducted by the fine folks at Leadership Journal.
10 healthy responses to church conflict
Effective turnaround pastors run to the sound of gunfire. Internally they may recoil from conflict, but they recognize that something more important than personal comfort is at stake. Dealing with conflict sooner rather than later is a learned skill that any pastor can master.
- Resolve that you will deal with conflict sooner rather than later. (Ephesians 4:26, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger," will help you be mindful if you commit it to memory)
- Accept the fact that peace is not always possible because some people don't want it. (Memorizing Romans 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all," will help you balance your responsibility against that of the other parties to the conflict)
- Write out a personal plan for how you will react and what steps you will take in various conflict scenarios; this helps you respond in measured fashion rather than reacting on the fly.
- Be quick to confess and quicker to forgive.
- When conflict erupts, focus on future benefits rather than the temporary pain.
- Journal every day while the conflict is hot to process your thoughts and feelings.
- If you work with a coach or mentor, increase the frequency of your meetings. If you don't work with a coach or mentor, find one.
- Do not, under any circumstances, permit your reaction to become the issue! (The pastor's reaction when another sins against him often ends up becoming the issue. Then the source of the conflict cannot be resolved).
- Feel free to grieve the losses, but move beyond that by adjusting to the new, healthier normal.
- Track down the following verse in your Bible and dog-ear that page:
When you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.