How to Respond to Church Conflict

Blurred image of a church on a hill

The most vicious attacks against Jesus came from the religious community. Why should we think it would be any different for us? But it does hurt when people in your own congregation begin to act in unloving, unkind, and even ungodly ways.

So, how can I respond to church conflict in a way that honors God and fulfills His purposes? How can I navigate through the treacherous waters of conflict?

  1. Recognize the source of the conflict.

Ephesians 6:10-20  ” We wrestle not against flesh and blood”

  • The enemy is actively involved in divisions within the body of Christ.
  • The enemy will use unsaved church members masquerading as Christ-followers.
  • The enemy will use saved people who are deeply carnal, immature, and focused on their own agenda.
  • The enemy will use self-serving autocrats.
  • The enemy will use your own selfishness, stubbornness, and pride.
  1. Do nothing before you pray. Then, pray some more. Give God time to work in answer to prayer. He specializes in changing hearts. (Philippians 4:6-7)

  1. Realize that God is in control of the situation even though you may not understand what He is doing or allowing. He can be trusted to work out everything for GOOD. (Romans 8:28)

  1. Take ownership of your part of the conflict.

  • Where you have made mistakes, be quick to admit them.
  • Where possible do everything you can to mend the fences and heal the hurts. (Romans 12:18)
  • Whenever possible be the first one to reach out towards reconciliation.
  1. Seek counsel from wise and godly people outside the church.

  • Seek counsel from a “safe” unbiased source with experience, like Care for Pastors.
  • Other pastors who have faced conflict can give wise and godly advice.
  • Denominational leaders can also be a great resource.
  1. Communicate with the parties involved and keep a record of your communication.

  • In the heat of emotion, times, calls, notes, emails, and other communications can get muddled.
  • Clarity, truth, and facts are the friends of those who want to resolve conflict.
  1. Listen more than you talk. Sometimes conflicts can be resolved by simply listening to the other party.

  • Active listening tells people that you really do care about the issue.
  • It communicates that you value the other person.
  • It lets the other person know that they have been heard and that you understand their point of view.
  1. Don’t be afraid to implement church discipline.

  • Be sure to teach on the subject from Scripture.
  • Follow the guidelines of Matthew 18.
  • Claim the Lord’s guidance and presence. That is His promise.

Be assured that this conflict has not caught God by surprise. He has purposes for it that go way beyond anything we can see.  Allow God to work out His purposes in your life as He guides you through the process of resolving church conflict.

About Robert White

Dr. Robert White was raised in central Florida and completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida. After college, he completed the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. For more than 40 years he has served as pastor of churches in Florida and in Massachusetts. He served as adjunct professor at the Orlando Extension Center of Luther Rice Seminary, teaching Bible and Theology for 15 years. He taught classes for the certificate program of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served on the New Work Council of the Greater Orlando Baptist Association and the Pastor Support Team of the Ridge Baptist Association. In October 2016, Dr. White joined the counseling staff of Care For Pastors. He currently resides with his wife, Kaye, in Davenport, Florida.

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