We recently highlighted the fact that conflict can derail church revitalization efforts. While that is true, many pastors are able to navigate church conflict on their way to revitalize their church. It’s not easy, but it is always possible. Here are five steps to help overcome church conflict on your way to church health.
Tie Everything to Your Mission
The fact that conflict distracts from your mission can’t be denied. However, I also think the opposite is true. A focus on your mission distracts from conflict.
I recently heard of a church that was in the middle of a significant church conflict. All the typical components were present, gossip, arguing, anger, etc. While this was taking place, their region of the country was devastated by flooding. This presented both a practical need in their community and a missional opportunity. This church laid aside its disagreements, united around its mission, and served its community.
This did not solve all their problems, but highlighting their missions made them less focused and consumed with their disagreements.
Be Okay with People Leaving Your Church
No pastor wants people to leave their church. We love people, we are called to minister to people, and we want to see them grow in their faith. However, sometimes churches grow by subtraction. Sometimes the healthiest thing that can happen is for someone to leave your church. It’s never what I want, but I have learned that sometimes it is best.
Preach on the Importance of Unity
Never underestimate the power of Scripture. Simply communicating the truth of God’s Word will have an immeasurable impact. Unity is such an emphasized theme in Scripture that it needs to be communicated from the pulpit.
Preach the Truth of Scripture and trust God to use it in the hearts of your people.
Have Honest Conversations
There is no substitute for an honest face-to-face conversation rooted in love and truth. There are times that conflict is rooted in incorrect assumptions about another person’s thoughts. It is also hard to gauge tone and emotion through email or text. Your heart on a matter is best communicated through an in-person conversation. These conversations in no way minimize truth, but they can demonstrate love and reveal your heart.
Conflict is not going to be remedied overnight. It will take time. By all means, work to resolve the conflict quickly, but if you have stepped into a church where conflict is the standard way of life, it can take time to change that culture. As Mark Dever has said, “Preach, Pray, Love, Stay.”
Conflict will happen, but it doesn’t have to be the most notable aspect of your church. Following these five steps can help you overcome conflict and realize church health.