8 Reasons Church Conflicts Often Burn out of Control Quickly

Posted by | October 04, 2017 | For Pastors, Ministry Life | No Comments
Wildfire burning out of control

By Chuck Lawless

As a pastor, I sometimes felt like I spent all my time putting out fires in the church. It might have been right for me to deal with the fires, but I seldom caught the fire before it started burning more brightly than I wanted. Here’s why the fires of church conflict often burn out of control quickly:

  1. Church leaders have too little training in resolving conflict. What we have learned, we’ve often learned the hard way: in the middle of a conflict, and then primarily through our failures.
  2. We face a supernatural enemy who delights in conflict. From the Garden of Eden, Satan has sought to turn followers of God against other followers. He’s sly – and viciously and quickly divisive.
  3. Kindling for conflict sometimes lies all over the congregation. That’s what happens when internal conflicts smolder throughout the church. Each “conflict” may be small, but the combination of many conflicts creates ready-made fuel.
  4. Nobody’s paying attention to sparks. I’m amazed by how many leaders are caught off guard when their congregation erupts in flames. That usually means the leaders are too disconnected from their people.
  5. Some church members specialize in fueling fires. We’ve probably all met them in a church somewhere. They delight in creating conflict and spreading gossip, sometimes deceitfully so under the guise of “prayer requests.”
  6. Undiscipled people aren’t equipped to deal with potential fires. They’re still babies in Christ – and babies don’t recognize the danger of fires. Actually, somebody must rescue them, or they’ll get burned, too.
  7. Some congregations have a history of fires. They’ve almost burned down in conflict so many times before that fires have become the norm. When a fire’s always burning, it doesn’t take much to become a conflagration.
  8. Everything’s dry. The preaching is boring. Evangelism isn’t happening. The worship music puts people to sleep. Nobody’s talking about missions. Young people are nowhere to be found. When everything’s dry, one small spark can quickly consume it all.

Any reasons you would add to this list?

Click here to read the original blog on ChuckLawless.com

Dr. Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. Dr. Lawless served as pastor of two Ohio churches prior to joining the Southern Seminary faculty in 1996. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals.  He and his wife Pam have been married for 23 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC. 

About Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married 39 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 39 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

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